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Running For More…

The personal blog and website of Kristen Cincotta

Posts Tagged ‘Personal’

New Year, New Beginnings

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Welcome to 2016!

Much has happened since the last time I clicked myself over to this blog, with new beginnings happening all over the place. Since today is the first day of the new year, it only seemed fitting to give everyone an update about where I’ve been, and more importantly, what’s on deck for 2016.

Career Changes

By far the most significant change for me has been a job change, a change that was not unforeseen. I was employed at the CDC as a research Fellow, and my Fellowship was scheduled to end on Thanksgiving day, 2015.

One last stunning sunset over Atlanta, as seen from my office at the CDC.

One last stunning sunset over Atlanta, as seen from my office at the CDC.

Going into the final year of my Fellowship, all parties involved were both expectant and excited about the likely possibility that I would be staying on permanently at the CDC, as part of the rapidly growing Prescription Drug Overdose team. My team had the funds to hire several people and both my supervisors and I wanted me to be one of those people. However, over the summer, I learned that it wasn’t going to be possible. I’m not going to go into the details as to why here, but suffice it say, everyone was disappointed that it didn’t work out, including me. I LOVED being a part of the CDC, I really liked the vast majority of the people I worked with (both at the CDC and beyond), and I was pretty dang excited about several big things that were/are in the pipeline for the PDO team. To compound things, even as it became increasingly apparent that the primary project that I had been working on throughout my Fellowship was taking significantly longer to wrap up than expected, there was just no possibility of extending my Fellowship further. To be completely honest, it made for a pretty difficult last few months, especially as new people with less experience than I had were brought in to the permanent positions that I had been hoping to land. I wanted to stay and finish my project at my high standard of work, and instead, I felt like I was being pushed out the door. I would not give up my time at the CDC for anything – I had dreamed of working there for as long as I can remember and I am thrilled I was able to make it happen. I just wish things had ended on a better note.

A major SABCS highlight - meeting Dr. Susan Love and several Komen Advocates in Science at the Brinker Awards Reception.

A major SABCS highlight – meeting Dr. Susan Love and several Komen Advocates in Science at the Brinker Awards Reception.

BUT! When life closes a door, it opens a window, as they say. And in this case, life has opened a giant, beautiful bay window for me, with a stellar view of the future. With a bit of persistence and a good bit of luck, I was able to secure a job with Susan G. Komen as an Evaluation Manager, focusing on scientific research programs. In this position, I will be joining the team at Komen that is responsible for assessing the impact of the dollars that Komen has invested in breast cancer research over the years, identifying research successes that have stemmed from those dollars, and helping to improve Komen’s research programs overall. I will also get the opportunity to take these rusty blogging skills out for a spin by writing some pieces for the Susan G. Komen blog, email newsletters, and other social media properties. It is, in short, my dream job and in just three short weeks of employment, I have already had a career-high moment when I got to attend the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium on behalf of Komen. I have followed the news coming out of SABCS for years, dating back to when my mom’s oncologists presented her case there during one of the case study sessions. To be there in person, just days after starting my new job, was an amazing experience. I cannot understate how excited I am for this new opportunity, especially given how crushed I was to have to leave a job I loved at the CDC.

Lifestyle Changes

The cherry on the sundae that is my new job is that in addition to doing work that I’m genuinely passionate about, I am going to get to do said work from home! My greatest frustration at the CDC was being forced to adhere to a standard 9-5 workday, with little freedom to manage my own time. While I will still have regular hours at Komen, working from home does give me a bit more flexibility. I will be able to do things like fold laundry while thinking through tricky problems, go for runs on my lunch break, and other things like that. At the CDC, I was easily spending 2.5 hours in the car every day between driving to & from daycare and commuting to work. Being able to just pop Dash over to daycare (or better yet, run commute him over on nice days!) and come right back home is going to save me TONS of time. Dash is about to have his own new beginning starting next week when he transitions to a new classroom at his daycare, so it’s nice to know I’ll have a little more flexibility in the event he needs me a bit more for the next couple weeks too. Plus, my beloved Shenanigans never really forgave me for taking an office job (she developed severe separation anxiety), so to stay home with her all day, every day, just feels right. Feeling like I’m in control of my time again has me VERY optimistic for everything I’d like to get done in the next year. And speaking of things I’d like to get done in the next year…

Volunteering with Komen Atlanta

I am once again serving as the Teams and Recruiting Chair for the 2016 Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure!

One of my homes away from home!

One of my homes away from home!

As always, the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure will take place on Mother’s Day weekend, returning again to the Lenox Mall. Race registration will “officially” open on Monday, but shhh…. a little bird told me you can actually register now (click here)! And to make things even better, this year I have a 25% off discount code that everyone can use to save some money. Simply enter “KCincotta2016” during registration and the computer will do the rest!

In addition to recruiting new teams and participants directly, I am also taking on something new this year – I have recruited 10 absolute superstars to serve as Race Ambassadors for the Race this year. I’ve already held one training session with them that left me totally jazzed up for the potential impact of this program on our Race registration, and especially on the performance of our teams. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about this group in the coming months, so be prepared. As a I said, these ladies are superstars – longtime participants, top fundraisers, big time team captains. They are going to really push me to bring my best to our Race this year – I can’t wait!

I am also trying to launch one other initiative for Race that centers around improving the Race experience for our best performing teams on Race day. I don’t want to go into too many details here because it’s still in the preliminary planning stages. But – I AM looking for someone to join my “Teams Team” and head up this new effort for me. I’ll be there to help along the way, but I’ve already committed to launching the Race Ambassadors program this year and don’t want to give either program short shrift by trying to do both all by myself. So if you, or someone you know, might be interested in working with me on this new effort, let me know by shooting me an email. Thanks!

Volunteering with Atlanta Track Club

Dash trying out the indoor track at the snazzy new ATC offices.

Dash trying out the indoor track at the snazzy new ATC offices.

Last June, I was thrilled to learn that I was selected to once again serve as a Community Ambassador for my beloved Atlanta Track Club. The ATC has really helped me become a “real” runner over the last few years, and I’m honored to be able to spread the word about everything that they bring to our local running community. However, shortly after my Ambassador term started, I decided to back off of any racing until I knew what was happening with my job situation (and more specifically, our financial situation). I was already committed to the Atlanta 3-Day in October and I needed to devote my limited training time to that event anyways. So I didn’t really do much running between mid-July and mid-November, despite my best intentions. And as you can imagine, that made it pretty difficult to trumpet all the wonderfulness of the ATC.

Thankfully, right around the time I was tip toeing back into the running world post 3-Day, all of the Ambassadors were invited to extend their terms by an additional six months or so, so that our terms aligned with the calendar year. I sent off an email accepting that offer within seconds, knowing that this was my chance to really bring my best efforts to my Ambassador gig. So, you can expect much more from me about my experiences with the various programs and races that the Atlanta Track Club offers, both here and on social media, throughout 2016. Yeah!

Running in General

With my GOTR race buddy, before she totally smoked me!

With my GOTR race buddy, before she totally smoked me!

As I already mentioned, I began tip toeing back into running in mid-November after a bit of a break over the summer and early fall. I did my best to complete the “Striding through the Holidays” challenge that the

awesome ladies at Another Mother Runner organized, which was great motivation to get back into more consistent running and workouts. I also ran with my friend Julie’s daughter in the Girls on the Run ATL 5K, during which Niblette (her online nickname) absolutely dusted me. I was pretty dang proud of her wheels, but boy, was that the kick in the pants that I needed to get serious about running again. So I sucked it up, set some goals for myself for 2016, and got started. I rolled directly from the Stride challenge into training for the Publix GA Half Marathon (now being run by the ATC – holler!), following the final 14 weeks of the AMR Half Marathon Finish It! plan. This plan is a bit higher mileage than I’ve been running lately, but with more flexibility in my day to day schedule (see above), I am certain that I can handle it. I am also certain that my butt needs to really feel like I’m training for something if I’m going to stick with it, so hopefully this plan hits that sweet spot. I’ll wrap up my third week of training on Sunday and I’m pretty stoked with how it’s going already. More to come on that soon.

Beyond the Publix Half, I’ve got some other big running goals as well. But since this post is getting monstrously long already, I’ll save those for their own post. Cliff hanger!

Blogging

Celebrating with my Atlanta run-blogging ladies at our annual holiday get together.

Celebrating with my Atlanta run-blogging ladies at our annual holiday get together.

Throughout this beast of an update post, I’ve alluded to the fact that I’m hoping to blog A LOT more regularly over the next year – about Race for the Cure, about ATC, about my running in general, and many other things. I feel like I promise this to myself and the four people out there reading this at least once every few months, but again, with a more flexible day to day schedule, I’m super optimistic that I can actually make it happen this time. I love having this outlet to share my thoughts, successes, and struggles, and I really don’t want to let it languish as I have in the past. I’m going to let the content evolve naturally as I see what happens with my new job, but I definitely want to get back to regular training updates and race updates as a start.

So that’s a bit about where I’m at and what I’m looking at for 2016. The last time I was this excited to kickstart a new year was when I started my Fellowship at the CDC, when I had a lot of similar things on tap. Thanks for joining me on this ride – let’s make it great!

Welcome to the world, Dash!

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Seventeen days ago, my husband Mike and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary by welcoming this guy into the world:

 Dash 20

As most of you know by now from social media, his name is Dashiell Reeves Cincotta and we affectionately call him Dash. Although my pregnancy was easy, Dash’s birth was not. I don’t feel comfortable sharing all of the details of his birth story in this public forum, but suffice it to say, three days of contractions (two days worth of which were induced following my water breaking) does not make for fun times. The length of time between when my water broke and when Dash was born also led to some nervous moments immediately after he arrived as well. Thankfully, everything turned out for the best and everyone has been doing well since then.

We have now been at home for two weeks, slowly figuring each other out and learning our new family dynamics. My mother-in-law was here for the first week and was hugely helpful, especially when it came to letting me catch up on sleep and recover from labor and delivery. She was joined by my father-in-law and brother-in-law last weekend, making them all Dash’s first visitors. While it was great to be surrounded by so much love and support, I think that by the time everyone left, both Mike and I were ready to be on our own as a small family and try to find our own new routines. The past few days have been a wonderful mix of happy baby snuggles (I could let this guy sleep on my chest for days!), frustration over seemingly cause-less baby wails, proud parenting victories (no crying during bath time last night!), and a love between all of us that grows exponentially with each passing day.

Dash 22

During the time since Dash was born, the world said good bye to Robin Williams. His passing led to a lot of discussion about the need for open dialogue around depression. In that spirit, I can honestly say that while things get better every single day, being a new parent has been a hard adjustment for me. I knew it would be physically exhausting, but the emotional toll it has taken has been a surprise. The best way to describe how I feel is this: I feel homesick. Not for a place, but for other times. I loved being pregnant and now realize that I wasn’t prepared for it to come to such an abrupt end. Our lives pre-Dash were easy and free, if a bit quiet in recent years. Shenanigans was the center of our universe for a very long time and I hate the idea that she is feeling neglected due to a change she had no say in. The thought that I can never go back to those times hurts my heart immensely, as it always does following a major life change. I also miss my mom more than I thought humanly possible. Knowing that, for the first time ever, my life has moved on to a stage that she will never be a part of makes everything that much harder. I am leaving her behind with my old life and that thought breaks my heart on a daily basis.

All of that being said, with each passing day, things get a bit easier. Sleep certainly helps, as does having a wonderfully supportive partner. I’ve also done better this week about getting outside for some fresh air and exercise most days. I can’t wait until next week when I can start running again, even though I know it will be challenging. Writing things out, as I’m doing here, also helps me to make sense of things. Returning to some of these old habits is a helpful reminder that not everything in life has changed and even those things that have changed, haven’t necessarily changed for the worse. Life just looks a bit different now and that’s ok.

As for Dash and I, we’re taking things one day at a time. We fall deeper in love with each other by the minute and I find that if he sleeps for too long, I actually miss him. Even with all of the emotions that I’ve been wrestling with, I have rarely felt overwhelmed by Dash himself. Holding him and realizing that I really do have the ability to comfort and soothe this tiny person in a way no one else does has been incredibly reassuring. I am genuinely amazed that he finds my singing voice soothing. Spending time looking into his big, curious eyes and feeling him snuggle into me has been very comforting to me in much the same way that holding Mike’s hand has always made me feel better in times of stress in the past. I already find myself wishing Dash would grow slower and stay this tiny forever, even as I simultaneously long for the days when he can take care of himself a bit more. I have not for one second regretted our choice to become parents.

Dash 27

I promise that not all of my blog posts going forward will be quite this personal, or even this Dash-heavy. But since I know a lot of people are checking in on me and are curious how I’m doing, I thought I would share a more thorough update. From here on, though, things will be back to blogging business as usual, as time and Dash allows. Next week starts my official “training” for the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving Day, so you can expect to see training updates popping up regularly (hopefully weekly!). I’m not fundraising for this race, since completing this race is enough of a challenge for me at this point, but I always have my eye on the cancer advocacy world and will try to mention different events and opportunities as I learn about them. I’m already thinking about posts around the Stand Up to Cancer telethon on September 5th and both the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Atlanta walk and the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure in October. I’m also confident that I’ll be tying on my Komen Atlanta and Atlanta Track Club volunteer shoes soon enough. So there will be plenty to write about in the months to come. Plus you never know when I’ll throw in some Dash updates, so definitely check back regularly.

For now, though, a deep and sincere thanks to everyone for their well wishes and supportive words. While we haven’t been able to respond to everyone’s texts, tweets, emails, phone calls, cards, and Facebook messages, we have read and appreciated every single one!

Dash 16

 

All of the gorgeous photos in this post were courtesy of Allison DePalma Photography

#100HappyDays

Monday, June 9th, 2014

It has been over four months since I last wrote a blog post. It has been an eventful four months, to say the least. Pregnancy (only seven weeks left!) and all of the related preparations and doctor’s appointments that entails, job uncertainty for my husband Mike, significant restructuring around my job, rehabbing my first significant running injury, ailing relatives, and significant volunteer time commitments have combined to keep us on our toes this year. But by far, the hardest thing that we have had to face has been the loss of my mom to breast cancer after a seven year fight. Her health declined significantly over the last six months and we finally had to say good-bye to her in mid-May. While I am coming to some sort of peace with what has happened, my heart has been forever changed by it. That she will never know the little guy growing in my belly is something I will never be able to truly comprehend.


With Mom (and Dad) at a Braves game last September

With Mom (and Dad) at a Braves game last September

I have many more things to say about my mom’s passing, as well as all of those other things I mentioned above as well. With time, I will attempt to fill in some of those blanks. I have always found writing (and running!) to be a great way to work through complicated thoughts and feelings around all sorts of topics. With everything that has been swirling around my head in the last four months, my return to this small corner of the internet has been long overdue. But tonight, I have something else that I wanted to write about: #100HappyDays!

For those who are unaware, #100HappyDays is an online photo challenge of sorts, and theoretically, an easy one at that. You sign up for the challenge on the website, and then every day for the next 100 days, you post a photo of something that made you happy during that day. Truly, anything that has brought you a moment of joy can be shared – a get together with friends, a snuggle from a loving pet, a great cup of coffee, anything. You can post your pictures on any social media site that you choose (or just email your photos to the #100HappyDays curators), although most people choose to use Instagram. And that’s it. At the end of your #100HappyDays, you will have a nice archive to look back on of everything that has brought you happiness of the previous 3+ months.

After hearing about this challenge from a number of friends (and seeing the hashtag explode in my social media feeds), I decided I wanted to give it a try. At the time, it was clear that Mom’s health was declining significantly, although we didn’t yet know how little time she had left. I was looking for a way to stay positive and focus on all of the good things happening in my life despite everything happening with Mom and this seemed like a great way to do just that. When I realized that it was approximately 100 days before my due date, it just felt right – one positive thing for each day leading up to the arrival of our little dude. So I jumped right in and began posting my pics.

Two weeks later, I flew to New York to say good-bye to my mom for the last time. I am generally a very positive, happy person. But the thought of trying to find something, ANYTHING positive in those last few days was just too much for me. While my mom was in the ICU, my father-in-law was upstairs on the main floor for a week fighting a nasty kidney infection that stemmed from some brutal kidney stones. Two days after I got to the hospital, my lifelong best friend’s father was also admitted to the same hospital (five doors down from my FIL) to recover from reparative knee surgery. I was surrounded by loved ones in all types of pain. The thought of posting a picture of an ice cream bar from the hospital cafeteria just felt trivial and disingenuous. The only thing bringing me any comfort was the immense support network that the universe conspired to provide me at the hospital in the form of my always great in-laws and a friend who has been there for me whenever I’ve needed her for the last 32 years. But they were dealing with their own stresses and posting artificially cheerful photos of them just didn’t seem right. I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t in the mood to fake it. So I stopped.

Now that I have had a bit of space from everything that happened, I think it is time to start my #100HappyDays again. I need to continue to heal and the reality is, I still have much to be happy about. Baby C is healthy and in spite of everything, this pregnancy has gone very well. I have a wonderful husband and great friends who have continually surprised me with their generosity and kindness over the last few weeks. And while not everything is great (still sorting out Hubs’ job situation!), I again want to focus on the positive. I don’t want to wallow or descend into a hole. I am taking responsibility for my own happiness as we count down to Baby C’s arrival.

Today is my new Day 1. It is exactly 50 days until Baby C’s due date, meaning approximately half of my challenge will precede his arrival and half will follow in his wake. I can’t think of a better way to document this unique time in my life.


#Day1 - Reaping the rewards of last year's hard work with my highest ever start wave placement at the Peachtree Road Race!

#Day1 – Reaping the rewards of last year’s hard work with my highest ever start wave placement at the Peachtree Road Race!

If you would like to follow along during this second attempt at #100HappyDays, my Instagram feed can be found here. I also generally share the pictures to my Twitter feed, which can be found here. See you there!

Running for a Whole Lot More in 2014!

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Final Announcement for Web

Surprise! More details to come soon!

 

Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Welcome to 2014!

First and foremost – apologies for sort of disappearing a bit in December! While I am usually pretty busy this time of year (as we all are), this year really wiped me out. In addition to the normal hustle and bustle of the holidays, I also ended up having multiple orientations for some things I’m taking on this year (including serving on the Komen Atlanta Community Grant Review committee and acting as an Ambassador for the Atlanta Track Club), a number of parties with new friends and old, and a five day trip home to upstate New York, something we haven’t done in YEARS. Unfortunately, due to our work schedules, the only time we could schedule that trip was two weeks BEFORE Christmas, right in the middle of the month. The timing of that trip threw me off so much that I’m STILL playing catch up. Seriously: I’m still working on getting our “Christmas” cards out. On January 2nd. OIY. All in all, it was such a crazy month that by the time New Year’s Eve rolled around, Mike and I were perfectly content to just stay in by ourselves and relax.

Celebrating the season with some of my fellow Atlanta-area running bloggers, a wonderful group of ladies!

Celebrating the season with some of my fellow Atlanta-area running bloggers, a wonderful group of ladies!

On top of that general busy-ness, I also haven’t been running, thanks to a knee injury that just will not heal. When I initially hurt my knee back in October, I planned to take off a full month and hope for the best. After that month was up, I could tell from just my day to day activities that my knee was still pretty inflamed, so I decided to take December off as well. Things finally started feeling better over the last couple weeks, so in the hopes of participating in the ATC’s Resolution Run on New Year’s Day, I attempted a short run last weekend. It did NOT go well. Less than a mile in, my knee flared up and felt just as bad (if not worse) than it felt back in October. It was incredibly discouraging. My fellow running bloggers have been writing and sharing their running goals and race plans for 2014 and I couldn’t even finish three miles, let alone start planning for next year. Honestly, it was kind of a crummy note to end the year on.

Nope. Never made it there. Boo.

Nope. Never made it there. Boo.

However! I can’t let that get me down. Instead of moping, I’m making my first resolution of 2014 to figure out what’s wrong with this knee once and for all, figure out a plan to get it back to where it needs to be, and follow that plan to the letter until I’m back out on the roads and running the way I want to be. That means it’s absolutely time to find a doctor. I gathered some recommendations from friends on Twitter and on Facebook (thanks for your input, friends!), and established today that my health insurance doesn’t actually require a referral to see an orthopedic specialist. Tomorrow, I’m going to start calling around and see who can see me in the next couple weeks. Fingers crossed that by the end of this month, I’ll have the beginning of a game plan to get back to running again.

So, given that ongoing frustration and the general chaos of the holidays, it’s been pretty easy to fall out of my “Running for More” groove. However, I love writing here when I get the time, even if it is occasionally sporadic. Plus, with the new year starting, a lot of exciting things are happening that I’m really looking forward to:

  • As I mentioned above, I’m serving on the Komen Atlanta Community Grants Review Committee again this year. I’ll be reviewing my assigned grants over the next month and in early February, I’ll meet with the rest of the committee members to decide on our final funding recommendations to the Board of Directors. The whole process is intended to be confidential, so I probably won’t say much more here. But suffice it to say, working through this process will be eating up a big part of my January!
  • As an ambassador for the Atlanta Track Club, there are two non-race events next week that I’m really looking forward to: the town hall to discuss the future of the Grand Prix race series at 6pm on Monday, January 6th and the Annual Member Social on Thursday, January 9th. Look for a post with all the details on both of those over the weekend. Just as a note, though, ATC has asked people to RSVP for the town hall by Friday, January 3rd. If you’re interested in attending, please shoot a quick email to feedback@atlantatrackclub.org.
  • Finally, as this year’s Participation and Teams Chair for the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure, I would be absolutely remiss if I didn’t mention that registration for this year’s race (which will take place on Saturday, May 10th) is now OPEN! This is a GREAT goal race if one of your resolutions is to get in the exercise habit and improve your physical fitness. Our race is open to runners and walkers alike, so regardless of your personal goals, we’d love it if you made taking part in our race your goal. Also, as an added bonus, if you use the discount code “earlybird” at checkout, you can save $10 off your registration from now through January 15th. If I convinced you to register, you can do so by clicking on the link at the end of this post!

And finally, I really do intend to go back and fill in some of my blogging gaps from back in October. Tentatively, I’m planning to write those up over the next couple of weeks (I think I’ve got five posts to write). I think I’m going to back-date those posts when they’re done so that they make more sense in the archives and then I’ll write a quick wrap-up post with all of the links once they’re done.

With all of that on my plate, maybe it’s for the best that I’m not also trying to squeeze in training and races. I’m going to be plenty busy enough as it is focusing on the “For More” part of my personal mission without the “Running” bit. But first, though, I MUST finish addressing these Christmas cards once and for all before this gets seriously embarrassing!

Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure logo

Click the image to register for the 2014 Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure today!

DetermiNation

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

Sometimes, in both life and running, it is about reaching new highs and achieving personal bests. And sometimes, it’s just about putting one foot in front of the other and getting through the commitments we have made for ourselves. It is about the DetermiNation to see the thing through.

Ready!

Ready!

Tomorrow is the Atlanta Marathon 10 Miler. I am running it to raise money for the American Cancer Society through their DetermiNation mini-series program. I called my fundraiser the #Run4Results because I am inspired by the great results that the ACS has had in the fight against cancer to try to achieve the best results I can. As with all of my races, I am going to run it to the best of my ability in the moment. But that “best” will be far from my personal best.

In the last few miles of the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon earlier this month, I started to develop a twinge on the outside of my right knee. That twinge grew into a full blown IT band problem on my only other long run between then and now (a 9 miler two weeks ago). I haven’t been able to run more than 2.5 miles since then without it hurting immensely. Making matters worse, I learned on that rather awful 9 mile run that running through the knee pain caused me to alter my gait in a way that re-aggravated the left ankle injury that I never let properly heal in July. I spent over a week after that long run alternating between a seriously aching knee and a seriously aching ankle.

Since then, I have taken it VERY easy with my running. I have run only three times, and never more than three miles at a time, for a total of less than nine miles in two weeks. Even with that easy schedule, I’m still hurting. So tomorrow when I toe the starting line, I know that I will be running headlong into a painful situation. And I am going to do it anyways.

I am not required to run this race tomorrow. In fact, the smart thing to do would be to skip it altogether. But I made a promise to myself and to all of my supporters in my #Run4Results fundraiser that I would run this race and I want to live up to that promise.

In the last year, I have watched as some of my nearest and dearest have continued to fulfill their obligations while facing much more significant challenges than a sore knee and ankle. I have watched my mom face every new cancer treatment and every new setback with a resolute determination to just keep fighting. I watched my father-in-law face his own cancer diagnosis and treatments with a stoic steadfastness that is inspiring. I watched the running community come together and resolve to keep racing in the face of the Boston Marathon bombings. I watched my friend Julie struggle through an endless battle with plantar fasciitis to complete as many miles as possible during the Boston 3 Day this summer. And just this week, I have watched that same friend say good-bye to her mother after her sudden passing, something that shook all of us who know Julie and her mom Pat to our core. Watching Julie persevere in the face of a pain I can only imagine has been inspiring and has made my injuries seem downright trivial.

So, in honor of my loved ones, I will attempt to do as they have done. I will keep fighting. I will be steadfast in my determination. I will resolve to make it to the finish line. I will persevere and I will reach the finish line. This will not be my best run. In fact, it may very well be my worst. But without a doubt, it will be one of my most meaningful races.

If you would like to support me in my #Run4Results fundraising efforts, you can still make a donation to the American Cancer Society in my name at the link below. I am less than $100 shy of my goal of raising $1000. Please consider making a donation in whatever amount is right for you and helping me reach my goal. More importantly, your donation will help so very many others as they persevere through their personal fights with cancer to achieve their goals, something far more important than my race tomorrow.

ACS Determination Logo 2

Please click on the image above to visit my fundraising page and make your donation!

Announcements!

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Even though I am STILL furloughed from my job as a research Fellow at the CDC, my advocacy and fundraising work never stops. I finally sent out my #Run4Results fundraising letters and they have worked like gangbusters – I’m less than $170 away from reaching my goal with two and half weeks still to go before the Atlanta Marathon 10 Miler. I’ve also been easing back into training following the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon this past weekend. And I am starting to put some pieces in place for the future, including a few fun announcements!

1. I have started a team for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Atlanta Walk!

The Making Strides walk is on October 26th (the day before the 10 Miler!) and will take place at Centennial Olympic Park. Because I am still working on my #Run4Results fundraiser, I won’t be actively fundraising for this walk (although you can donate here if you are so inclined). Instead, I want to encourage as many people as possible to join my team and walk with me. It is $25 to register (or $35 on race day), with all of the money going to fund ACS’s breast cancer initiatives. It’s also only a walk, and a relatively short one at that – no running involved. My team is currently named “3 Day Tweeps” although I may change it once I see who will be walking with me. Clicking on the icon below will bring you to my team page where you can find all of the information about the event and sign up!

ACS Making Strides Logo

Click on the image above to join my team!

2. I have a new role on the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure planning committee!

Because I will almost definitely be out of town the weekend of the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure (May 10th, 2014!), I won’t be able to serve as Safety Chair again this year. Instead, I will be taking on a MUCH bigger role that is entirely pre-race: I’m going to be serving as the Participant Recruitment/Teams Chair! After seeing the numbers that we had turn out for our race last year compared to what other (smaller) cities were turning out, the staff at Komen Atlanta (including the new Executive Director Cati Stone) and the members of the Race planning committee realized that we can and should be seeing much, much higher participation levels. One of the main things that I realized during my stint on the committee last year was that one area where we could do much better was in recruiting more participation from other runners here in Atlanta. I also feel like we need to do more outreach to both the Komen Atlanta grantee organizations and to the local participants in the Breast Cancer 3 Day. So I took some of my ideas to Cati (a fellow runner and 3 Day walker), who was already looking to shake things up around our Race for next year. It turns out that she was already thinking of many of the same types of activities that I was to try to drive up our registration levels, both for teams and for individuals. So starting later this winter, and big time next spring, I will be hustling my butt all over Atlanta to get as many people as possible to take part in our Race. I am a little intimidated to actually find myself in a position to put my money where my mouth is (so to speak… ), but I’m even more excited about it. Our Race has been good in the past. This year, we’re going to make it GREAT.

Komen Atlanta Logo

 

3. I am going to be one of the inaugural Ambassadors for the Atlanta Track Club!

In a stroke of fortuitous timing, after I got home from meeting with Cati at the Komen Atlanta offices earlier this week, I found a wonderful email sitting in my inbox inviting me (and about 40 other people) to be part of the Atlanta Track Club‘s inaugural Ambassadors program. With as much volunteering and yammering on about them as I do, this position is a natural fit for me. I’ll be receiving some communications training and promotional materials to distribute and will be representing the ATC at approximately 4-6 race expos, health fairs, group runs, and similar events over the course of next year (the program will be starting in January). Seeings as I was already looking to do more outreach to the running community in Atlanta through my new Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure position, this Ambassador program is an AWESOME opportunity. I’ll be building connections through my ATC work that I can then use in my Komen Atlanta work – all the while promoting TWO fabulous organizations that I feel passionately about. WIN-WIN!

ATC New Logo

 

So that’s some of what I’ve been working on during my work furlough. As I’m sure you can tell, I’m downright GIDDY over these opportunities. But, before I can really dive into Race recruiting and promoting ATC, I need to keep my eyes on my first priority – meeting my #Run4Results fundraising goals and preparing for the Atlanta Marathon 10-Miler. Coming up in the next few days will be a three part series of posts on my final preparations for the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon and my race recap as well as a few posts about the great work of the American Cancer Society. I’ll also be posting some information about the upcoming Atlanta 3 Day for those that will be here in town and maybe even a hint about MY 3 Day plans for next year. For now though, if you would like to support me in my #Run4Results fundraiser, you can do so by clicking on the DetermiNation image below. Thanks for all your support!!

ACS Determination Logo 2

Please click on the image above to visit my fundraising page and make your donation!

 

I’m Back!

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Hi everyone!

First and foremost – MASSIVE apologies for going dark for the last week and a half. After the Atlanta Track Club Singleton 10 Miler race, I came home all set to spend the rest of the day doing two things: taking a nap and writing fundraising letters for my #Run4Results fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Unfortunately, while I was napping, the battery in my computer ran completely down. And despite all of my best efforts, I couldn’t wake it up again. It was totally, completely dead. It turns out that on top of a number of small tics that my computer had developed over the years (I couldn’t drag and drop or right click, my battery was warped… ), my logic board was FRIED. Without a logic board, there was no using my computer. So, after three trips to the Apple Store, off my computer went to get new logic board and overall internal clean up. After a stressful week and a half, I finally got my baby back today, just about good as new!

Unfortunately, with my computer in the shop, I didn’t have many options for blogging or doing much on the internet besides monitoring my social media feeds on my phone. The only other computer in our house is my husband’s work laptop and understandably, he wasn’t comfortable with me using that machine beyond what was absolutely necessary. So I was relegated to doing all of my “computing” via iPhone – NOT ideal. It was very limiting and unfortunately, really put a cramp in my ability to run my fundraiser the way I had planned to.

Thankfully, all of that is now behind me. Given that I am currently furloughed from my job due to the government shut down, it looks like I’m going to be able to spend some time this week getting “caught up”. First priority, of course, is sending out those fundraising letters. I’m also going to write up my training from the past two weeks (which has been going pretty well!) as well as an overall September running recap. Time permitting, I will also be writing one large post on ACS and why I chose them for my fundraiser. I had intended to make those posts a series, but I think with my condensed timeline before the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon this coming Sunday, one post will have to suffice. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t write something for Breast Cancer Awareness Month which officially kicks off today. So look for that too.

I think that covers everything from my end. Again, apologies for disappearing into the internet ether and probably more importantly, extra emphatic apologies to anyone who had to endure my broken computer-related crankiness over the last couple of weeks. All in the past now!

Thanks for sticking with me!

ACS Determination Logo 2

Please click on the image above to visit my fundraising page and make your donation!

2013 Mid-Year Check In Part 2: Goals Update

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

While you’re here, please click over and read the first part of my mid-year update on my running!

Back at the beginning of the year, I set a number of goals for myself for my running, my fundraising, and breast cancer advocacy in general. Then I finally got around to blogging about those goals at the beginning of March. Today, in the interest of public accountability, I’m going to write a bit about my progress (or lack thereof) on each of my goals.

Celebrating after completing my first half marathon in March!

Running Goals

  • Sub-30 minutes 5K – DONE. Seven times. Because I’m an overachiever, apparently.
  • 10K PR – DONE. After three years of progressively slower Peachtrees and one promising 10k last fall, I shattered my 10k PR at this year’s Peachtree, dropping my 10k PR from a 1:05:29 to a 1:01:02!
  • Complete two half-marathons – Halfway there! I ran the Publix Georgia Half Marathon on March 17th, a race that is still on my agenda to recap. I’m also still planning to run the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon in October.
  • Complete eight SEVEN Atlanta Track Club Grand Prix races – To date, I’ve finished four ATC Grand Prixes: the Peachtree City 5k in January, the Hearts and Soles 5k in February, the Spring has Sprung 8k in April, and the Dekalb-Decatur 4 Miler in July. I also had every intention of running the Women’s 5k in March that was called off due to lightening at start time. Because the ATC had to cancel that race, the magic number for “completing” the series is now seven races, which means I need to finish three more. Right now, it’s looking like that will be two 5ks in August and the Singleton 10 Miler in September.
  • Volunteer ten times for the Atlanta Track Club – Back in March, I was able to volunteer for the ATC four times in the span of about three weeks. However, due to my work schedule, I haven’t been able to fit in any volunteer opportunities since then. I was hoping to pick up a few more during the Peachtree Expo, but alas, all of the Expo volunteer ops that weren’t during my work hours were taken before I was able to sign up. With two big race expos in the fall (for the Atlanta Marathon and the Thanksgiving Half Marathon), I SHOULD still be able to complete this goal. I just need to be more proactive about signing up early before the shifts I can work get filled by others!
  • Total annual mileage of > 750 miles – I’m doing GREAT with this goal so far. As of July 13th, I was at 420 miles – 56% of the way to 750 miles. Provided my ankle doesn’t act up (it’s feeling much better after a week of rest!), half marathon training starts again tomorrow. 750 miles is easily within reach!

Fundraising Goals

  • Publix GA Half Marathon: Raise at least $1000 for the Upstate Medical University Capital Campaign by March 31st. – DONE. Thanks to the generosity of my friends and family, I actually raised over $1500 during this fundraiser. Details coming in my race recap later this week!
  • Race for the Cure: Raise at least $500 for Komen Atlanta between April 1st and May 31st. – FAIL. I didn’t actually do any fundraising for the Race for the Cure. I wish that I had. I was VERY busy in April and just never made the time. However, I had a great experience as Safety Chair, which I’ll ALSO be recapping later this week, time permitting.
  • Peachtree Road Race: Raise at least $1000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation between June 1st and July 31st. – This fundraiser is technically still ongoing, so I can’t say that I missed my goal yet. However, I’ve only raised $155 thus far and I’ve pretty much stopped promoting this fundraiser. If you would still like to donate (which I would greatly appreciate), you can do so here. Otherwise, stay tuned for a “lessons learned” post in early August about why this fundraiser fell apart and what I’m going to do differently the next time around.
  • AllState 13.1 Half Marathon: Raise at least $1000 for the American Cancer Society between September 1st and October 31st. – I’m still planning to do this fundraiser and have high hopes about reaching my goal. In fact, I’m actually hoping to reach at least $1500 to make up for dropping the ball on my BCRF fundraiser.

Advocacy Goals

  • Weekly fundraising updates and monthly training updates here on my blog – Obviously, this hasn’t happened. But hey! Two posts in one week this week. Hopefully, this will be the start of some more regular updates. Regular blogging will also probably help with some of my fundraising goals as well!
  • At least two blog posts per month not related to my races or fundraising to continue to spread the word about the need for more cancer research funding and how everyone can get involved. – Again, this hasn’t happened. See above.
  • Volunteer with Komen Atlanta or other local cancer not-for-profits at least six times this year (beyond my Race for the Cure and Community Grants commitments). – In all honesty, I kind of forgot I set this goal for myself. So far, I’ve only been able to volunteer with Komen Atlanta once outside of my Race for the Cure and Community Grants committee work. However, there are a lot of “cancer awareness” observances and events in September and October, so you can expect to hear about some more volunteer work then.

So that wraps up where I’m at with my goals for 2013 – still plugging away and relentlessly optimistic, as always!

How are you doing with your goals for 2013? Do you have any tips for successfully sticking with your goals?

Running For More on National Running Day!

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Me and my best girl enjoying our morning run today!

Me and my best girl enjoying our morning run today!

Happy National Running Day!

Celebrated on the first Wednesday of June every year, National Running Day is a day for runners everywhere to stand up and yell “I’m a Runner!” and tocelebrate the inherent craziness that goes along with that. There are group runs in cities across the country, race discounts to be found everywhere, and for many running and fitness bloggers, lots and lots of giveaways. Last year, I celebrated by going for a short run and then blogging a little bit about why I’ve come to love running so much. This year, I’ve got something bigger up my sleeve. This year, I’m unveiling my new blog name!

As of today, my new blog name is:

Running For More

So, why the new blog name? Well, Kristen Walks just didn’t feel right anymore. I picked that name back when my main breast cancer advocacy work was centered around the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. I walked the the 3-Day three times between 2007 and 2010 and I’ve been a fairly visible member of that community ever since. However, in 2009, I got it in my head that I was going to try to run the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure (with no idea how to train, it didn’t go well). Then in 2010, I decided I wasn’t just going to run the Race for the Cure again (with a training plan and everything!), I was going to Couch to 10K it all the way to my first Peachtree Road Race 10k. In 2011, staring at months of sitting on my butt writing my doctoral dissertation, I decided to be proactive and signed up for the Atlanta Track Club’s Women on the Move 5K training group. And the Women’s 5K race. And Race for the Cure. And Warrior Dash, because mud is fun. And the ATC’s Peachtree training group. And the Peachtree itself. So clearly, this running thing was becoming much more of “a thing”. That led to last year when I ran 18 different races, many of them with a charity component. I was officially a (self-declared) #RunningBadass.

Predictably, after I started my job late last year, I didn’t have as much time to blog. And when I did have time to blog, I found myself mostly wanting to write about running. Not about running in terms of “how to be a runner” or anything like that. There are plenty of bloggers that are much more knowledgeable about that sort of thing. I wanted to write about my training and my races, even when they didn’t have anything to do with my cancer advocacy. I felt that way even more strongly once I decided to try to do my own fundraising for my three big races this year, without the structure of an organization like Komen to guide me. Running is what I’m doing now and running is the major form that my advocacy is taking. In addition, with my position at the CDC, I have to be very careful about the public health and science information I post in public forums like this lest it be perceived as representing the CDC’s position on, well, anything. (To be clear: All the opinions and factual interpretations here on the blog are mine and are based on my professional perspective only. They are not necessarily representative of the CDC’s position on anything.) I also now have restrictions on my ability to persuade people to lobby the government, also on pretty much anything. So beyond the fact that I just plain don’t have time to research the types of posts I was starting to write last fall (like these), out of an abundance of caution, I decided to move away from any kind of post that could be potentially problematic. So that leaves me with writing about my running. Which meant that Kristen Walks as a blog name had to go.

So, how did I land on Running For More? I know this is going to come as a surprise, but it came to me on a run. I was running intervals on the track at Piedmont Park, to be specific, on a hot, dusty night. I had recently added new songs to my running playlist, and one of them was Melissa Etheridge’s song “Running for Life”. On her website, Melissa writes that:

Ford asked me to write a song for their “Race for the Cure” initiative to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer charities. I wanted to write a song that was personal; climb into people’s emotions and portray a woman who has had breast cancer but is out of it. The first verse is about a survivor. The second verse is from my own experience and the last verse is for those who have not been diagnosed or don’t know anyone with breast cancer yet. We are all running for answers and to make the situation better.

I’ve probably heard this song hundreds of times. I find it incredibly inspiring and always have. I also relate to many of the lyrics:

I run for hope
I run to feel
I run for the truth
For all that is real
I run for your mother your sister your wife
I run for you and me my friend I run for life

Those are all reasons why I run, which was what struck me during this particular run. So as I made my way around the track (probably not as focused on my pace as I should have been during speedwork), I started to think about whether any of those lyrics could work as a blog title. And none of them felt quite right. They didn’t quite encompass enough. They are all reasons I run but none of them are THE reason that I run. And then I got to the last lines of the song:

We will be running as we have before
Running for answers
Running for more

BINGO. Running for more. It was perfect. So I raced my butt home (ok, I had just done intervals – it was probably more of a trudge) and did a quick Google search. Miraculously, I didn’t find a single other blog using the name (if there is one, I apologize!). Even more astonishing, the URL www.RunningForMore.com was available. It was fate. And a short ten minutes later, it was mine.

So, what does Running For More mean? (I’m into the rhetorical question thing today!) To me, it truly encompasses all of the the things that I’m running to have more of in my life:

  • More AWARENESS of the need for more breast cancer research funding. And cancer funding in general. All biomedical research, really.
  • More EDUCATION on the risk factors for breast cancer, things you can do to protect your health, and the early signs and symptoms that something might be wrong.
  • More FUNDING for research, educational outreach, patient support, political action, and so many other aspects of the fight against breast cancer.
  • More HEALTH for myself so that breast cancer and other chronic diseases don’t steal years from my life like they have from my loved ones.
  • More EXPERIENCES through participating in great events, running in fun races, and volunteering for wonderful organizations.
  • More FRIENDS like those I have met through my advocacy and running.
  • More FUN!
  • And most importantly, more TIME. Time with my mom, time for other moms, time for everyone. Cancer has shortened too many lives. I’m O-V-E-R it. Through running and all those things I listed above, I’m running to give everyone, including myself, more time.

So those are the topics you can expect me to (try to find the time to) write about on here in the coming weeks and months. A lot more running, but still holding on to the best stuff from before. I’m excited about this. I hope you are too!

 2013 National Running Day Image

PS – Hey, graphic designer friends! I would love a new logo for that upper left hand corner, as well as possibly a new banner pic for the splash page. Anyone want to help me out?