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Running For More…

The personal blog and website of Kristen Cincotta

Posts Tagged ‘Pictures’

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.

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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

Race Recap Flashback: The 2013 Peachtree Road Race!

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Welcome back to Race Recap Flashback week! I have already recapped my Run for the ROC at the Publix Georgia Half Marathon, which you can read here, and the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure, which you can read here. Tonight, I’m wrapping up this short series with my recap of the Peachtree Road Race earlier this month!Peachtree Road Race Logo

When I first started to get an inkling in my brain that maybe I wanted to give this running thing a shot, I knew that I had to run The Peachtree. I mean, you aren’t truly an Atlantan, let alone an Atlanta Runner, until you’ve run those six sweaty miles down the center of our fine city. For those who aren’t familiar, the Peachtree isn’t just a local 10k. It isn’t even just a big holiday 10k (it takes place every 4th of July). It is the world’s largest 10k. It is MASSIVE. And it is the one holiday event across the entire calendar that Atlantans truly rally around. The whole city is buzzing about it for weeks in advance. So yeah, before I even knew what a race bucket list was, this race was on my race bucket list. I also wasted no time crossing it off my race bucket list – just two months after I finished my first “running” 5k at the 2010 Race for the Cure (I had walked others), I ran the Peachtree. And I’ve run it every year since and I plan to continue to build my streak for as long as geography and our finances allow.

The 2013 Peachtree was our fourth straight Peachtree, and this one was a little special – my brother-in-law Matt (Mike’s brother) came down from New York to run it with us ahead of his birthday and a weeklong art course at SCAD. So even though the Peachtree is getting to be old hat for Mike and I, this year, we got to experience through the eyes of a newbie once again.

[Sidenote: Have I mentioned that my BIL is a crazy talented artist? Because he is. Click on over to his Facebook page and look at some of his work. It is truly phenomenal!]

I also decided that for the first time, I wanted to incorporate a fundraising component to my Peachtree efforts. I thought about using Crowdrise to support one of the “official” Peachtree charities, but none of them really clicked with me. So when I was putting together my goals for 2013, I decided that I would use the Breast Cancer Research Foundation‘s Time for Research model to raise money for something very close to my heart – breast cancer research. I posted about my fundraiser in mid-June and called it, fittingly enough, the #Run4Research.

From there, it was time to train (which I did a lot of!) and it was time to spread the word about my fundraiser (which I didn’t do enough of, it turns out). And then, it was suddenly time for the race…

Pre-Race

As savvy veterans of the Peachtree, Mike and I chose to have our race bibs mailed to us. It might cost a little extra, but it’s worth it to avoid the crowds at the Expo. Plus, you get that fun surprise in the mail in mid-June when you find out your official start wave. In the past, I’ve still wound up at the Expo because I usually volunteer there with the Atlanta Track Club. However, because the 4th fell on a Thursday this year, the Expo was on Tuesday and Wednesday – both work days for this girl. So that meant no volunteering this year. All in all, I was pretty resigned to not making it down to the Expo…


Rows of race bibs at the Expo!



… and then my BIL decided to come run with us and my good friend Julie generously leant him her number (she has been dealing with a heinous case of plantar fasciitis and was saving her feet for the Boston 3 Day at the end of the month). However, Julie chose not to have her number mailed to her which meant that after work on Tuesday, I still found myself fighting traffic to get to the Peachtree Expo. As it turned out, it was fortuitous that I had to go down there because we also needed MARTA cards to get to the race start. And Nuun. And I picked up a new tank top on clearance from Big Peach. And I splurged on my first ever Sparkly Soul headbands. Among other things. Like I said in my #Run4ROC recap post, I should NOT be left unattended at race expos. After about an hour of wandering around in my high heels from work, I headed back home to finish cleaning before my BIL got there the next afternoon.

The night before the race was COMPLETELY different than the night before the Publix Georgia Half. Before that race, I was a nervous wreck. But this time, I was confident. I knew I was well trained, I know the course very well at this point, and I’d been running great all year. Our only real concern was the forecast – all of the weather folks were forecasting not just rain, but torrential downpours right at starting time. So, just like everyone else in the city, we were a little worried, although more about the race getting canceled than getting rained on. But, not being capable of controlling the weather, we instead set out our stuff for the next morning, peppered Matt with all of our best tips for the race, and headed to bed at a relatively early hour.

The Race!

Well, actually, first we had to get to the race. We stepped out the door to begin the 1.5 mile trek to the nearest MARTA station around 6am and were not terribly surprised to find it sprinkling. So staying dry for the race lasted about three minutes. Oh well. We took our short cut through the post-race area in Piedmont Park which we WERE surprised to find we had to show our race bibs to enter. The ATC had notified all of the runners that they were increasing the security presence around the race following the events at the Boston Marathon and they were not kidding. The entire finish line area was absolutely lined with uniformed policemen, which honestly, was sort of comforting to see. We took our annual pre-race peak at the finish line itself, then zipped across Peachtree to the MARTA station.


Peeking down at the finish line!

Usually at this point in the morning, we end up standing in a hot, sweaty MARTA station waiting for a jam packed train to come by for about 45 minutes. But, someone was looking out for us this year. Just as we walked onto the platform, a completely empty train pulled up and we were able to walk right on. I mean, I got a seat on the train. A real, whole seat. That NEVER happens on Peachtree day. So up we went to Buckhead where we deboarded into the flood of racers. Security again was noticeably tight. They were letting people out of the stations in waves in order to control the crowd and keep an eye out for anything suspicious. We’ve never seen them do that before.


Riding MARTA to the race in my patriotic Sparkly Soul headband!

Soon enough, though, we made it to our start wave. Because Matt was using Julie’s number, we ended up starting back with him in Wave P. The later start afforded us plenty of time to stretch, go to the portapotties, snack on some Clif Bars we brought, and just generally take in the scene. We were a little concerned that with the weather, a lot of people had decided to stay home, especially when we were able to get on a train so easily. That fear was completely unfounded. The portapotty lines and the crowds in the corrals were just as huge as always. Plus, the rain had basically stopped by the time the later waves were approaching the start. Before we knew it, we were passing underneath the huge flag marking the starting line and were on our way.


The crowds at the starting line, which is all the way up there under that American flag



Our little group before the Peachtree – Matt, me, and Mike

The boys both took off pretty quickly once we got across the start, which I expected. Mike is MUCH faster than I am, and Matt wanted to try to run with him for as long as he could hold on. Thinking ahead to the big hills in miles 4 and 5, I chose to start a bit conservatively and just enjoy the easy downhills of the early parts of the course. I also was doing something I don’t do often during races – I was running entirely based on effort, rather than a pace tracker. Because of the rain, I didn’t want to chance it with headphones, so I left my phone (and with it my RunKeeper app) off. I just settled into a comfortably hard pace that I thought I could hold and moved along through the first part of the race. I waved at the giant red tube dude that’s always in the middle of Peachtree early on, yelled out a greeting to Newbie, the New Balance mascot in front of their store, dodged the flying freebies from Moe’s (t-shirts and frisbees, not burritos, I promise!), and just generally enjoyed the kookiness of the Peachtree spectators. Like I said, Atlanta always rallies around the Peachtree, and even with the rain, this year was no exception.

Going into this race, I had some pretty big time goals. After clocking progressively slower times the last three years, I REALLY wanted a Peachtree PR (that would’ve been sub-1:06). As this is my only planned 10k for this year, I also knew that if I wanted to reach my goal of setting a new 10k PR this year, this was the race where I would have to do it (that would’ve been sub-1:05). And the one big thing standing between me and those goals was Heartbreak Hill. Heartbreak Hill is a sneaky beast of a hill. For the first three miles or so of this race, you’re cruising mostly downhill. Then, just before you reach the Shepard Center, you come upon a blind curve. And around that curve is Heartattack Hill. It comes out of nowhere, you’re usually tired because you went out too hard on the early miles, and, just when you think you’re at the top of it, there’s a second peak just beyond it. It’s a mental challenge, to be sure. I’ve never made it up it without walking… until this year. I made it all the way to the top of not just that first peak, but the second peak as well. I made myself hold onto until I reached the next water stop before I gave my legs a short breather while I hydrated.

From there, the race covers a series of rolling hills that basically don’t stop until you reach the finish line back at Piedmont Park. My legs were really tired by this point, but I felt like I was having a strong race and that I was probably within reach of my time goals, provided I didn’t let myself wuss out over the last two miles or so. Once I spotted the sign for 17th Street, I knew I was getting close. The race turns off of Peachtree and towards the finish on 10th. I started counting the cross streets, willing my legs to keep going. I also kept reminding myself that this part of the course was more of my home turf – just like I did during the half. As I pushed down 10th Street, I could just barely make out the numbers on the clock, which read something like 2:11 and some odd seconds. I distracted myself with some quick math based on the clock at the start and suddenly I knew: I was WELL ahead of my PR pace. Once last kick to the end and it was locked in. A new, HUGE 10k PR of 1:01:02!!


Walking into Piedmont Park after crossing the finish line!

Post-Race

After the race, I did what I always do after the Peachtree. I grabbed a not-at-all cold bottle of water from a volunteer (hey, you try icing down 70,000 bottles of water all at once!), and headed for those coveted t-shirts. However, it became quickly apparent that this trip across Piedmont Park was a little different from in past years. You see, while we had all forgotten about the rain during the race, the ground at the park had not. And after 60,000+ people had tromped across the same swatch of grass in the span of just over two hours, it had become one giant mud pit. It was ridiculous. It was also a good thing I had already decided to replace my running shoes post-Peachtree, because there was no way they were surviving all of that mud!


Matt and Mike after the race

Because of all of the mud, we didn’t really stick around too long after I met up with Matt and Mike. They gave me a quick run down of their races (Mike had finished in a speedy 50:46 despite a nagging injury that would sideline him for over three weeks post-race while Matt finished in 53:37 despite relatively little training) and then we decided to start making our way out of the part. We made a quick stop at the ATC Member’s tent to pick up our finisher’s gifts (aluminum water bottles with the shiny new logo!) and then walked up the Beltline to the post-race party at Phidippides. I don’t even think we really grabbed food at the park this year. We just wanted to get out of the mud and get to the party, especially since the rain was starting to make a reappearance.

The Phidippides party was great fun, as always. Hundreds of sweaty runners (who were also all caked in mud), free food and beer, good music… what’s not to like? I even won a giftcard to the Hard Rock Cafe! Which, honestly, I forgot we even had one of those here in Atlanta. But hey! More free food. Plus, I got to geek out when I spotted Jeff Galloway (Olympian/winner of the first Peachtree/founder of Phidippides) giving a tour of the store and catching up with Bart Yasso (the “Chief Running Officer” of Runner’s World Magazine). All in all, a great way to finish the Peachtree and start our 4th of July celebrating!


Bart Yasso and Jeff Galloway at the Phidippides Post-Peachtree party

Fundraising Results

Yeah, about that fundraiser. When I posted about my #Run4Research in June, I had every intention of pushing this fundraiser to make it just as much of a success as my #Run4ROC fundraiser in March. But life just got in the way of this one. Not to make excuses, but about a week after I launched this fundraiser, I developed a severely infected tooth that required a root canal a week before the race. I was in a ton of pain and I wasn’t really in the mood to cheerlead my fundraiser. The donations were also slower to come in than in the past, which was discouraging. Altogether, I kind of lost my juice for this fundraiser, something that I really disappointed in myself for. I will be writing an additional, more detailed, post about what I think went wrong and the lessons I learned next week. I also have every intention of making my last fundraiser of 2013 even bigger to make up for my woeful effort on this one. But as far as this fundraiser is concerned, I dropped the ball.

BUT! That is not to say that I didn’t have any donations at all. In fact, four donations were made to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation via my fundraising page, which together with my starter donation brought the total raised to $155 – about 15% of my overall goal! Each of those donations lifted my spirits immensely and I’m sure will be used by BCRF in the future as they continue to wage the war against breast cancer. So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to the following people for making donations to this fundraiser:

  • Andy Carr, an ATC staff member that I got to know while volunteering at packet pick-up for the Women’s 5k and who’s become one of my Twitter buddies.
  • Crystal Elster, one of my #3DayTweeps friends who’s father has run the Peachtree (FAST) every year for something like 35 years. After four years of trying to catch up with her at the race, we finally saw each other at the Phidippides post-race party this year!
  • Katie, Jesse, and Alice Schank, some of our closest Atlanta friends and their adorable daughter. The Schanks are moving back to Georgia at the end of this year, so maybe we can run this together next year!
  • And lastly, Laura Scholz and her husband Tim Long, who ALSO donated to my #Run4ROC. They’re good peeps, truly.

My muddy post-Peachtree legs say THANK YOU!!

Closing Thoughts

 All in all, this race was a huge success for me, running-wise. I had a great race from top to bottom and truly felt like a veteran racer the whole way. However, I would’ve loved to have capped that victory off with a fundraising success as well. I have no one to blame but myself for that and I intend to do better next time. This was a good reminder that to be a successful charity runner, you need to put the effort into both parts: the running AND the fundraising!


Commemorative finisher’s medals that we were able to get for a little extra at registration. LOVE them!

Note: If you would like to see all of my pictures from the Peachtree Road Race 10k and the surrounding events, please click here. Also, the link to donate to BCRF is still active and will remain so until I choose to take it down. If you would like to make a donation to this great cause, please either click here or on the big clock up in the left hand corner of this page.

Race Recap Flashback: Atlanta Race for the Cure

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Welcome back to Race Recap Flashback week! I have already recapped my Run for the ROC at the Publix Georgia Half Marathon, which you can read here, and I’ll be posting my recap of the Peachtree Road Race over the weekend. Tonight, it’s all about the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure, which took place over Mother’s Day weekend back in May!

Every year, the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure is on Mother’s Day weekend. Because much of my breast cancer advocacy is inspired by my mom’s fight with breast cancer, that makes it especially meaningful for me. I was even able to walk last year’s event with Mom, which was a whole new experience for me. The Komen Race was also my first EVER road race that I actually ran, again making it an extremely important event for me all around. If I had run the race this year, it would have been my seventh event here in Atlanta and my ninth (tenth?) Race for the Cure total.

But, of course, I didn’t run the race this year. I didn’t walk it either. Instead, for the first time, I was actually on the race planning committee, where I served as Safety Chair. And because I was committed to making sure everyone else had a safe race, that meant I couldn’t run the race myself. However, because as Safety Chair I wasn’t anchored to a particular area of the race site, I was really able to take in all of the aspects of the event. So, since this isn’t a traditional race recap, I’m going to do this recap a little differently too. It’s going to be a photo recap!

(Sidenote: If you want to see any of the pictures here in a larger view, just click on the pics themselves or on the link to the album at the bottom of the page.)

So, to start, I had to be at the race site at an absolutely heinous hour of the morning. However, I love this event so much that I was wide awake long before my alarm went off. My first order of business after I got to the site was checking in with my girl Julie who was responsible for assigning everyone their walkie talkies. I also had to get a picture of us together (even though it was still totally dark) to mark our three year “In Real Life” friend-a-versary (and our 4th Race for the Cure together)!

Pre-race shot with my girl!

From there, I did a quick tour of the race site and helped get my Grady medical teams ready to go. Then, it was back down to Julie at “Central Command” to fetch one of my favorite little people: her daughter Niblette. I was also able to capture this beautiful little moment of them:

LOVE THEM

My next “assignment” was to hand out our special Pink Honor Roll t-shirts (and coffee!) to our top 100 fundraisers, which Miss Niblette was kind enough to help me out with:

Pink Honor Roll shirts!

With my super helper Niblette

With the rest of the volunteers assigned to the Pink Honor Roll tent

I also had some visitors while I was working in the Pink Honor Roll tent:

Some of my #3DayTweeps before the race, including my friend Pam (in blue), Anne Marie (in the bandana), and Anne Marie’s daughter Liza. Niblette walked with them during the race.

Mike came and hung out with me before he went to actually run the race. Since I had to be there so early, he actually ran TO the race before running IN the race.

Not long after that, Mike headed down to find some of his work colleagues who were also running the race while we broke down the Pink Honor Roll tent. From there, it was time for me to make my way to the starting line, checking out the sights along the way:

Mike with his colleagues Lisa, Brandon, and Justin before the race. Go FFG!

Some last minute stragglers picking up their race numbers.

More of our great volunteers working hard before the race.

I also made one last check in with some of my medics, where I commented that things had been really quiet on the safety front thus far, including during the one mile fun run. They told me to me to NEVER say that because it’s basically tempting fate. As you’ll read later, I really should have listened to these guys:

Some of my phenomenal team from Grady, waiting for the race to start.

After that, I headed right to the front of the crowd and made my way up onto the starting platform. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to see the race from up there and I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity. I was able to get some GREAT pictures!

The MASSIVE crowd of racers waiting to start…

And with a word from the Komen Atlanta Executive Director Cati Stone (in the pink shirt), our racers were off and running!

Racers making their way towards the start as the large crowd pushed forward. And hey look! Even though I didn’t see him AT ALL, I totally captured Mike in my picture (left side, blue t-shirt, behind the folks in the pink “Thing” shirts)!

Racers flooding across the 17th Street Bridge

And of course, making their way along the crowd were my bike medics! Go team!

Once everyone was safely out on the course, I took a shortcut back through Atlantic Station and down to the finish line area. I met up with Julie again and captured this great shot of her with the banner she designed for our Survivor Tent when we went in to grab water bottles:

We love our survivors AND those who are surviving!

Like I said: Survivors AND Surviving!

I also took some time to check in with some of our local community grantees:

As a Community Grants Review Board Member, I felt extra proud of this group!

At this point, I figured I should head to the finish line and try to catch Mike, who I missed by a couple minutes. However, it didn’t take me long to find him and we were able to catch up for a few minutes. Unfortunately, though, that was all we had because my walkie talkie suddenly started barking my ear – someone was having an asthma attack at the finish line and I needed to head over there. So off I raced into the crowd, thinking I’d see Mike again in a few minutes. By the time I got there, my Grady folks had already taken care of things. So I stopped to chit chat with one of the bike medics to find out what happened and have her fix my walkie. As she was taping up my radio, I commented to her that it was probably the most first aid she’d have to deliver all morning, which, of course, jinxed us AGAIN.

As it turns out, while we were chatting, things were getting ready to go a little crazy on the safety and medical front. Over the course of the next 45 minutes, my medical team had to provide additional care for the person with the asthma attack, as well as a woman with a broken arm and FOUR people with severe dehydration. Apparently, since we had been expecting rain and overcast skies, folks weren’t prepared for what ended up being our warmest morning of the year to date and failed to hydrate properly before and during the race. Needless to say, I was QUITE busy during this period and didn’t take any pictures. You don’t really want to see pictures of people scared and in pain anyways.

Thankfully, my volunteer medics from Grady were true professionals and handled everything VERY smoothly. In the end, everything calmed down and, eventually, I was even able to help everyone else break down the race site post-event. I am also really glad that I ignored the repeated reassurances from the experienced members of the planning committee that “there’s never really any incidents, so Safety Chair is an easy gig” and made sure I had a solid emergency response plan in place BEFORE the race. We had more incidents in this one 5k than they’ve had in the previous three Atlanta Race for the Cure events combined.

Our race chairs, Jess and Liz, celebrating the end of a successful event!

From there, it was off to brunch with Mike, Julie, Niblette, and some of my #3DayTweeps friends and then home to a well-earned nap. It was a long day, but a very fun and fulfilling day!

Posing with some of my team at the end of the race. I really can’t say enough about how great they all were to work with! Thank you Grady EMS!!

So that pretty much wraps up my 2013 Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure experience. It was definitely challenging in new and different ways, but it was also fantastic to get to experience so many aspects of this year’s event. I am ABSOLUTELY planning to come back and take part in the Race Planning Committee again next year. Our new Executive Director has some big goals for us to grow and improve our event and I could not be more excited to help her make them a reality.

See you again in 2014, Atlanta!

PS – If you would like to see ALL of my pictures from the Race for the Cure, you can find them here.

Race Recap Flashback: Running for the ROC at the Publix Georgia Half Marathon!

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Publix Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon display at the Expo!

If you read my mid-year running recap, then you know that I’ve been doing a great job in my races thus far this year. However, I’ve done a terrible job about writing about my races here, even the big ones. So, I’ve declared this Race Recap Flashback week. This week, I’ll be recapping both the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure and the Peachtree Road Race. But first up, my Run for the ROC at the Publix Georgia Half Marathon!

Throughout most of 2012, I had a little voice nagging at my brain and at my heart. It kept saying the same thing: “I want to run a half marathon. I KNOW I can run a half marathon. I need to run a half marathon.” As I got more involved with the Atlanta Track Club and the local running community, that voice got louder and more persistent. So, sometime in November, I decided to bite the bullet and register for the Publix Georgia Half Marathon, right here in Atlanta. This race course comes within blocks of my house. I’ve cheered for many friends over the years as they’ve conquered these miles. The race is almost always on my birthday weekend, which also happens to be St Patrick’s Day weekend. If any race was going to be my first half, it had to be this one.

So I was settled on the race. I also knew that I wanted to jump back into the fundraising game and raise some money for a breast cancer charity, something I’ve gotten away from more than I’d like over the last two years or so. After considering a few options, I ultimately decided to dedicate my efforts to a specific cause that was near and dear to my heart: the Give Hope a New Home capital campaign to build the new regional oncology center at Upstate Medical University (aka “The ROC”). For those who are new around here, the ROC is where my mom has gotten her breast cancer treatments since 2007. The team there has been fantastic and I was ecstatic to have this opportunity to support them in something this important. It took me a bit to figure out how I was going to run this fundraiser, but eventually, a great woman named Terry Shenfeld helped me set up a fundraising page on the campaign’s website and I was off and running (so to speak…)!

Pre-Race

I’m not going to go through all my training and fundraising leading up to the race. Suffice it to say, I ran a lot (including a course run two weeks before the race), and I pumped my fundraiser as much as I could, both through social media and fundraising emails. So let’s zip ahead to the weekend of the race…

The Saturday before the half was a big day for me – it was my birthday! I’m normally the type that wants to make a big deal out my birthday. However, with the half the next day, I opted to keep things quiet and running-focused. I spent the morning doing one of my favorite things – recruiting new members at the ATC booth at the race expo. It was really fun and motivating to talk to everyone about their race goals, especially knowing that unlike in previous years, I was part of this conversation. Once I was done with my shift, it was time to pick up my race packet and hit the rest of the expo. I’m always a bit “splurge-y” at expos, but this year, I was particularly indulgent; I mean, it WAS my birthday. All together, I left with some new socks, some new running tops, a race-themed t-shirt, Clif bloks for during the race… and lots more that I’m forgetting because it was months ago. It was a lot. I was feeling confident and very much like a “real runner”.

… And then I got home and I got NERVOUS. I wanted everything to go perfectly and I was suddenly worried about all of the details: would I make it to the start on time (because, hey, last year I mis-read our Peachtree wave start times and we got there late… )? Would I be too hot (what is this heat wave in March)? Would I be too cold (but wait, what are those pre-race temps doing in the upper 40s and low 50s)? Would I be able to find Mike along the course (because I had a problem with that at the Hot Chocolate 15k)? Serious pre-race jitters, I tell ya. I was also trying to make a shirt to wear during the race and the iron on transfer just would NOT work, which was really stressing me out (I ended up just printing the graphic below on paper and pinning it on). All in all, I was feeling super anxious about this whole thing. But here’s the great thing about running: the race starts whether you’re ready or not. And when it does, you either step over that starting line or you get left behind. And no matter how nervous I was, I was not getting left behind. So I headed to bed relatively early and did my best to sleep.

My shirt back (click to enlarge)

My shirt back for the race (click to enlarge)!

The Race!

I’m sure my alarm clock went off at some godawful hour of the morning and I’m even more sure that I was wide awake long before it started bleating in my ear. I quickly got dressed and had my usual pre-race breakfast (whole grain english muffin with peanut butter and jelly and a glass of Nuun). I pinned my race bib on the front of my shirt and my “Run4ROC” information on the back, wrangled Mike into the car, and we were off. Because we had such a hard time with parking before the Hot Chocolate 15k, we had planned for Mike to just drop me off near the starting area (Centennial Olympic Park) and then he headed out to his first planned spectating spot where he napped in the car until the race got to him. Out of my paranoia, I got to the starting line REALLY early. I wandered around the area, checking out the finish line chutes, taking pictures, and warming up a little bit. I even had someone mention to me, upon seeing my shirt, that they had family that had been treated at the ROC in Syracuse, something that was completely unexpected down here in Atlanta. I took it as a good sign for the race to come. A little more stretching, a quick snack on a Clif bar, and it was time to line up with my start wave.

Ready to go!

Going into this race, I had two time goals in mind: my “I won’t be disappointed if I at least finish in… ” time was to run sub-2:30 and my “I THINK I can actually finish in… ” time was to run sub-2:20. My plan for the race was to get in front of the 2:30 pace group early on and just focus on staying in front of them. Since this was my first half marathon, I figured trying to focus too much more on pace other than that was probably a recipe for disappointment. So when I got to my start wave, I positioned myself alongside the 2:30 pacers and was ready to go. After a short walk up to the starting line, we were finally off!

The first half of this half wound through downtown Atlanta, and then up through Old Fourth Ward, Little Five Points, and Inman Park, one of my favorite neighborhoods.  Those first few miles felt EASY and I was able to get in front of the 2:30 pace group right out of the gate, just as I had planned. In fact, I was running so easily that the first time I saw Mike, I commented to him that I was worried I had gone out way too fast. The temps were perfect, the hills were manageable, and the vibe was, honestly, somewhat peaceful. At one point, we were running towards the sunrise and was struck with the thought that while I had seen plenty of sunrises on St Patrick’s Day from celebrating my birthday over night, this was probably the first one I’d seen from this side of morning. It was a beautiful morning for a run, that’s for sure.

Cruising along mid-race!

The second time I passed Mike was just after the six mile marker, at which point I ate some Clif bloks. I tried Gu on one of my long training runs and HATED it, but the bloks I could work with. Luckily, I was ready to fuel right when I saw Mike because I couldn’t get the package open and needed him to help me. Lesson learned for next time – open the package pre-race! After that, we headed up into the Virginia Highlands and Midtown, the area of town where I live and do the majority of my training runs. Between the bloks and the mental boost of running on my “home turf” I was feeling GREAT as I headed into Piedmont Park. Even better, I knew that after I left the park, there were only four miles left. Four miles? I can do that!

Yeah, I only thought those four miles would be easy. It turns out, those four miles were pretty much all uphill. Or at least, that’s how it felt. Juniper Street, you are NOT my friend. However, I knew that I had been trucking along at a solid pace and hadn’t really walked at all outside of the water stops (which was big deal for me mentally). I definitely didn’t want to blow my strong first eight miles by wussing out on the last four, so I kept pushing even as my legs grew tired. I focused on the people who I had chosen to dedicate each of my miles to and let them carry me up those hills. I also starting searching for this family of three little girls that were giving out high fives every half mile or so. Each time I’d see them, they were lined in height order so that I could just run along and high five all of them. I must’ve been running near whoever they were supporting because not long after I passed them each time, they’d hop on their bikes with their dad and scoot up the course. I must’ve high fived these girls seven or eight times in those last four miles. It was a great distraction!

Before I really knew it, I found myself making the last turn onto Marietta Street and starting the last uphill climb towards the finish. My legs were exhausted by that point, but I knew I wanted to finish strong. Suddenly, I found myself behind a cop on a bike following someone pushing stroller – completely strange. Then I realized – this was the last “runner” from the 5K that had stepped off not long after the last start wave for the half! That was motivating – I really wanted to “lap” that last 5k-er. Just as I was passing the 5K caboose, I starting hearing sirens and the screaming at the finish line got noticeably louder – could this be for me? Yeah, definitely not. It was the FIRST finisher for the full marathon. As much as I wanted to pass that last 5k runner, I did NOT want to get passed by any of the full marathoners. So, I dug deep, gave it everything I had left and pushed across the finish line, approximately three strides ahead of the winner of the marathon. YES!

All in all, it was fantastic race. I ran well throughout, took in everything I could along the course, and really enjoyed myself. Even better, I KILLED my goal time. My final time was a 2:14.10 – almost six full minutes faster than my big goal. I was ECSTATIC and ready to celebrate!

My Results!

Fundraising Results

As excited as I was about my race results, I was even more thrilled with how well my fundraiser went for the ROC. When I kicked things off at the beginning of March, I set my goal for this fundraiser at $1000. I challenged my friends and family to donate in various amounts corresponding to mileage or my time goals and had hoped to reach my fundraising goal by the end of March, two weeks post-race. Well, everyone responded so generously that I didn’t even need that long. By the time I took my first steps in the half marathon, I had already raised $518 – and that was in just two weeks! Even better, within a week of my race, that amount had ballooned to $1218, well past my goal. At that point, with an eye towards my planned fundraisers for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the American Cancer Society later in the year, I chose to stop actively promoting this fundraiser. However, even that didn’t stop my phenomenal support system from donating. As of April 15th (the last update I received from Upstate), I had raised $1513 for the ROC’s Give Hope a New Home capital campaign.

I can honestly say that I was blown away by everyone’s generosity. The ROC and their staff are near and dear to my family but I wasn’t sure how broadly this cause would resonate with others outside of the Upstate NY area. As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Many people expressed to me that they were thrilled to have the opportunity to repay Upstate for the great care they’ve given to my mom, to Marcia, and to many, many others. I have no idea how far $1500 will go towards the new cancer center. I know it’s small potatoes compared to the donations from people who get whole wings named after them. But friends, together, we got Upstate $1500 closer to making the new oncology center a reality, which is more than most people can say. I believe strongly in paying it forward, especially when it comes to charitable endeavors. By helping to make the new ROC a reality, we are helping to give others a better chance at a cancer-free future.

As part of my fundraising challenge, I said that anyone who donated more than $100 would be able to dedicate one of my miles during the race to anyone they chose. I also said that I would wear their honorees name on my shirt during the race. While I received ten donations of $100 or more as part of this fundraiser, I received the majority of them after the race. Since I couldn’t recognize those donors and their honorees during the race (as you can see on my shirt image, above), I definitely wanted to give them a shout-out here. So, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to my $100+ donors:

  • Nicole Anderson – One of my #3DayTweeps friends. Nicole asked me to dedicate mile 11 to her aunt, Marilyn Duncan.
  • Julie Brock – My #3DayTweeps bestie. Julie asked me to dedicate mile 4 to her grandfather, LTC Walter P. Schlagel, who passed away earlier this year. During that mile, as I was thinking of him, I noticed I was running near a man carrying an American flag. I lost him after that mile and didn’t see him again during the race. I took it as a sign from Julie’s grandfather to keep pushing forward.
  • Kathy and Mike Cincotta – My wonderful, supportive, endlessly generous in-laws.
  • Kate and Joel Jackson – Another of my #3DayTweeps friends and an Atlanta running buddy. She swears she’s going to get me to run a full marathon with her soon.
  • James Lee – A friend of mine from graduate school. James is getting married this fall!
  • Pam and Sean McCormick – My mom’s youngest sister and her husband. Sean has recently started running too!
  • David and Laura Ostheimer – David is a long time colleague of my mom and he and his wife have been some of Mom’s strongest supporters over the years!
  • Claudia Reeves – My aunt on my Mom’s side. Claudia made her donation in honor of her friends “The Big Ladies”.
  • JT Shoemaker – A graduate school friend who is one of our rocks here in Atlanta. JT made his donation in honor of his mother Janet, a breast cancer survivor who has been incredibly kind and supportive of me throughout Mom’s journey.
  • And finally, Dr. Jonathon Wright, my Mom’s and Marcia’s long time oncologist at the ROC. Dr. Wright also sent me a lovely email about how tough and inspiring my mom has been as a patient. He has given my mom phenomenal care over the years and I will keep that email always.

I also would be absolutely remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my other donors, all of whom helped me to far surpass my fundraising goals: Anne Marie DeSimone, Dom Gambardella, Marsha and Dean Griswold, Jeff Kostusiak, Dawn Mazzanti (who was my first donor!), Jim McKeever, Jennifer and Bill Rabbitt, Faren Shear, and Laura Scholz and her husband Tim Long. This group represents a hodge podge of friends and family from all the various corners of my life. I am strengthened and inspired to keep running for more because of all of you and the wonderful mash up that is my life.

Closing Thoughts

Ultimately, this race and this fundraiser were phenomenal successes for me and have given me huge motivation to keep going with this type of “charity racing”. I can’t wait to get out there again for the AllState 13.1 half marathon this October, when I will be running for the American Cancer Society!

Victory!

Note: If you would like to see all of my pictures from the Publix Georgia Half Marathon, please click here. Also, as far as I know, the link is still active on the ROC website if you would still like to make a donation to this worthy cause!

Getting Back on Track with #NHBPM!

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

So…

After a really dedicated month or two of blogging, I sort of fell off the regular posting train there, didn’t I? And during Breast Cancer Awareness Monthno less, when I had so many topics that I wanted to post about it. Alas, after a few months of relatively low key unemployment, my October got REALLY busy. Busier than I’ve been since my dissertation defense last December. Here’s just a sampling of what I was up to in October that kept me away from writing:

Taking meetings on The Hill!

  • I spent four days in Savannah with my family celebrating both my husband & a cousin’s shared birthday and another cousin’s wedding. It was a BLAST.
  • I spent three days volunteering at and attending the Network for Public Health Law conference here in Atlanta, networking my tail off and learning so much about this fascinating aspect of public health. If you follow me on Twitter, I was blowing it up with conference tweets there for a bit using the hashtag #PHLC2012.
  • I spent four days in Washington DC taking a series of informational meetings on public health careers within the federal government and government affairs that a long time friend and colleague of my mom’s generously offered to set up for me. I also got to see some of my closest friends from Atlanta, almost all of whom have relocated to DC over the years, including their cutie kids Alice and Soren!
  • I also had a series of informational meetings with folks working in public health here in the Atlanta area that came out of my networking at the NPHL conference.
  • I took part in a number of public health related webinars and web/twitter chats, something I’ve been doing regularly since last spring in order to learn as much as I can about the current state of public health and the big challenges facing those working in the field.
  • I volunteered at two health fairs on behalf of the Atlanta affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, helping to hand out important information on breast health care, mammography, and breast cancer, something I’ve been doing now for about seven months.
  • I volunteered twice with the Atlanta Track Club, helping them prepare for the Atlanta Marathon and Marathon Relay that took place on October 28th. I LOVE getting to know people in the Atlanta running community and being a part of these events even if I wasn’t running – so inspiring!
  • Speaking of running, I ran in the Winship Win the Fight 5K to raise money for the Winship Cancer Center at Emory University. I also walked in the American Cancer Society Making Strides event in Marietta and ran in another local race as well.
  • I cheered on my friends on the last day of the Atlanta 3 Day for the Cure, which unfortunately overlapped with my DC trip so I couldn’t take part on the other days.
  • And in the midst of all that, I got the worst head cold I’ve had in years that is still with me more than two weeks later. Ironically, I’m pretty sure I picked it up from the Health Policy Director for the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee.

Meeting “new” friends and #3DayTweeps at Closing Ceremonies for the Atlanta 3 Day!

Plus I was still trying to keep up with my usual job searching and training activities throughout all of that. As I said, it was a crazy busy month and I’m honestly not surprised I got sick in the middle of it. I haven’t been out running around like this in a pretty long time. And with all of that going on, something had to give and that something was my blog, just for a bit.

BUT! Looking at my calendar for November, things look a lot calmer. Things seem to maybe, possibly, be settling in on the job search front (no more details for now until things are more definite… ) and I’m not planning to attend any races or big advocacy events in November. In fact, the only really big thing on my calendar is my husband and I’s first trip home to New York for Thanksgiving in nine years. So my big goal for this month is to pick up where I left off with my blog. Which brings me to #NHBPM

#NHBPM is the Twitter hashtag associated with WEGO Health’s National Health Blog Post Month. WEGO Health is an online network of health activists that I’ve been keeping up with primarily via Twitter over the last few months. WEGO’s primary goal is to connect health activists using social media platforms  and to help health bloggers especially by providing useful resources and inspiration. WEGO Health also sponsors weekly twitter chats focused on various challenges facing online health activists that I’ve found pretty interesting, including one on breast cancer activism last week.

Inspired by other November writing challenges, like NaNoWriMo and BlogHER’s NaBloPoMo, National Health Blog Post Month is WEGO Health’s latest initiative to help foster conversations amongst the health activist community of which I consider myself a member. The challenge is relatively simple in concept: 30 health-related blog posts in 30 days. To help with this challenge, WEGO Health has set up different writing prompts for each day of November that I’m mostly going to try to stick to. I say mostly because I’ve looked over the prompts and there are some days where I’m just not inspired by either of the prompts that were given. So on those days, I’ll go “off script” a bit and instead post on the topics that I’ve been meaning to write about for a long time now. Knowing myself and how I work, I can already tell you that I won’t necessarily get a post up every single day either (like, uh, yesterday… ). But it’s my goal that by the end of November, I will have written and posted 30 different blog posts relevant to my little corner of the health activist world, which is breast cancer research advocacy.

Since I’m a day behind already, I’m going to roll my #NHBPM response for Day 1 right into this blog post. For each day of this challenge, there are two prompts and as bloggers, we’re challenged to reply to one of them. So, for Day 1 the prompt I’m choosing to start with is:

Why I write about [my] health…

First and foremost, I should note that I differ from the majority of WEGO Health’s bloggers because I generally don’t write about my own health (other than talking about my training for events) and I definitely don’t write about my experiences with a given health condition from the perspective of a patient. While I do choose to focus my efforts on one particular disease (breast cancer, natch), I instead write my blog from my perspective as the daughter of a cancer survivor, a biomedical health researcher, and a passionate research advocate. As I’ve dug further into the breast cancer advocacy community, I’ve come to realize that, through no fault of their own, health research advocates, while well meaning, are often ill-informed about the actual process and needs of biomedical research. Rather, I think this mis-information is the fault of scientists who have done an exceptionally poor job advocating for themselves and educating the public about why science and health research is so critical if we want to live in a world with breast cancer. Or diabetes. Or Alzheimer’s disease. Or any of these diseases that are stealing our loved ones from us far too frequently. So as a biomedical research scientist (I studied neural/immune control of heart function as an undergraduate and Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment for my doctoral work), I decided it was time for me to heed the advice of Ghandi and be the change that I wanted to see in the world.

Ultimately, I have three primary goals that I’m working towards by writing this blog:

  1. I want to be the best advocate I can be by learning as much as I can about the current state of breast cancer research, funding, and policy. Researching and writing this blog helps me achieve that for myself.
  2. I want to help my fellow advocates be the best advocates they can be by helping them to understand the biomedical research community and its needs from an insider’s perspective. I don’t think I do this nearly enough, and I want to change that.
  3. I want to inspire those who are currently on the sidelines to get into the game when it comes to health advocacy, whether they choose to focus on breast cancer in particular or not. We are all human beings walking around in vulnerable bodies, which means we all stand to benefit from a better understanding of public health best practices and from more/better biomedical research. I hope that by highlighting various ways to get involved in advocating for improved health education, greater disease awareness, and increased research funding, I can motivate others to join me in my efforts.

So that’s why I choose to write about health issues. Hopefully with each post that I write, both throughout #NHBPM and beyond, I’m getting closer to achieving those goals!

Piedmont Park goes PINK!

Monday, July 30th, 2012

As I mentioned back in this post, on July 21st, Piedmont Park (the Atlanta equivalent of Central Park for you non-ATLians) played host to not one but TWO separate events promoting breast cancer awareness and women’s health. Even though I opted not to take part in either event (for a number of reasons), I was able to spend some time at both events, getting a nice dose of pink spirit in the middle of the long, hot summer.

The Pink Ribbon Walk

While I spent time with both groups, I focused most of my time on the Pink Ribbon Walk. While this was actually the 9th time that this event was held, I only became vaguely aware of it last summer when I was driving to meet friends for a 3 Day training walk and passed by all the walkers. While I had every intention of looking up more about the Pink Ribbon Walk and the Sisters… By Choice Inc group, in all honesty, I completely forgot about it until a few days before this event when I saw a passing mention of it on Twitter. And man, am I glad I saw that tweet because this event was FANTASTIC!

When I first walked up to the group, I was blown away by the turn out. I consider myself pretty plugged into the breast cancer awareness community here in Atlanta so I assumed that if I hadn’t heard about this until a few days before, well, I wasn’t expecting much. I am happy to say that I was very wrong. Even the Atlanta Falcon cheerleaders and the mayor of Atlanta himself, Kasim Reed, turned out for this event. The energy level before the runners/walkers took of for their 5K was palpable. There were a number of community and business groups taking part that gave the whole thing such spirit. I’m really hopeful that I can convince Hubs’ office to sponsor a team for this next year as part of their community support work.

One of the best parts about this event was the “expo” area. While most of these types of events feature tables from their sponsors and information about the sponsoring organization (in this case, a local group called Sisters By Choice… Inc), this expo was unique in that it featured tables from a number of other cancer organizations as well. As a cancer advocate, I think this is really great because groups like Living Beyond Breast Cancer, the Young Survivor’s Coalition, the Georgia Breast Cancer Alliance, the American Cancer Society, and Komen Atlanta all focus on such different aspects of the larger fight against breast cancer. I get very discouraged when these organizers are positioned as competitors to each other rather than as co-advocates, so to  see them all proudly represented at one event was fantastic.


Pictures from the Pink Ribbon Walk Expo

I cannot speak highly enough of the organization and energy around the Pink Ribbon Walk and I’m really looking forward to running in the 10th annual event next summer!

SheMoves Atlanta 5K

When I first got to Piedmont Park on Saturday morning, I almost immediately came upon the women of the SheMoves Atlanta 5K lining up for the start of their event. The group was a bit smaller than I anticipated but the race organizers were energetic and really got everyone going for the race. Unlike the Pink Ribbon Walk (which focused on runners and walkers), the SheMoves 5K was pretty much solely runners. Also, while the Pink Ribbon Walk went out into the streets around the park, the SheMoves course was entirely within the park boundaries. I suppose that reflects the goal of each event. The Pink Ribbon Walk was designed to get people talking about breast cancer awareness while the purpose of the SheMoves 5K was to provide a fitness event to motivate women to make healthy decisions for their families and themselves. As a result, the SheMoves 5K was a more low key, intimate affair.

The one thing that these two events did have in common, though, was that they both had great post-race expos. The SheMoves 5K expo, which was held at Park Tavern, was really focused on celebrating women’s health, with champagne, flowers, and beautiful race shirts. It reminded me quite a bit of the post-race area for the Atlanta Track Club’s Women’s 5K. All in all, it seemed like a great, supportive environment for a race. The SheMoves Atlanta group hosts a number of these types events over the course of the year so I’m going to be keeping my ears to the ground in the hopes of participating in one of their other runs.

All in all, it was a very pink-filled morning in the park and I loved soaking up every minute of it!

To see all of my pictures from both the Pink Ribbon Walk and the SheMoves Atlanta 5K, please click here.

 

Kristen RUNS Update!

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Running in the Resolution Run 5K (in the blue shirt & pink shades), alongside Mike (blue shorts) and Julie (pink running skirt).

When I first starting writing this blog, back when it was still hosted over on Blogger, I was using it primarily to keep my Breast Cancer 3 Day supporters informed about my ongoing training and fundraising efforts. In 2010, I expanded it a little bit and started talking about some additional breast cancer advocacy events that I was taking part in. Most of these events were centered around various walks in the Atlanta area (Relay for Life, Race for the Cure, Breast Cancer Network of Strength Walk to Empower), making the Kristen Walks blog title very fitting. However, around that same time, I started to get more into running, with the dual goals of running both that year’s Race for the Cure and the Peachtree Road Race. In the time since then, I have become quite an avid runner, taking part in numerous “competitive” and “fun run” type races, almost to the point where I might have to change the name of my blog!

As I’ve gotten more involved in the Atlanta running community, the running that I’m doing these days often has nothing to do with my cancer advocacy efforts. In order to keep everything here on the actual “Kristen Walks” blog portion of my website relatively on topic, I decided to sequester my running “stuff” on this website under the “Kristen Runs” tab at the top of the page. Over there, you can find my racing plans for this year, recent and past results, links to some useful running resources around the web that I’ve found, and of course, my running photo albums. However, as I’m about to head into a series of races that are focused more on fundraising (and just plain FUN!) and less on actual racing, I thought this would be a good time for a (relatively) brief recap of my 2012 running season so far!

2012 Race Results To Date: The “Competitive” 5K Season

My first four races this year were generally smaller, non-fundraising events, most of which were put on by the Atlanta Track Club (ATC) as part of their Grand Prix series of races. Because of that, I’ve been thinking of this stretch as my “competitive” 5K season, focusing primarily on rebuilding strength and stamina in my legs after a long, stagnant period while I was writing my dissertation last fall and improving my personal times. I’m certainly no speed demon and I’ve never entered a race with the goal being to beat anyone but myself, but I’ve entered each of these first four races with specific goals I wanted to accomplish for myself. Thanks to a solid training plan and some hard work, I’m proud to say that I’ve hit all of my early running goals, setting me up for a really fun spring and summer of racing.

Race #1: ATC Resolution Run 5K:

Goal: Set a baseline 5K performance to build on in 2012.

This ATC Grand Prix race took place bright and early on New Year’s Day. My running through the fall and early winter had been sporadic at best and non-existent at worst, so I had zero expectations for this race. I just wanted to give it my best effort and use that as a baseline going forward. I ran this race with my fellow #RunningBadass2012 (our “team” nickname) Julie and my husband Mike. I wasn’t totally pumped about my 34:34 final time, but as I said, I knew I had to start somewhere. The accomplishment here was starting the new year on a positive, healthy note and setting my baseline. Only faster times from here on out!

#RunningBadasses2012 (Kate, Julie and I), freezing our bums off before Hearts and Soles

Race #2: ATC Hearts and Soles 5K:

Goals: Run the whole race, with no walking breaks. Improve my time from the Resolution Run.

This race took place on February 11th and had a fun Valentine’s theme. I had just gotten home from a wonderful 10-day vacation with my mom the weekend before and while I did get in some miles on the “track” on my cruise ship, I was a little concerned about how I was going to fare in this race. It was also FREEZING cold and drizzling rain as we waited for the race to start. So for me, the biggest goal here was to simply run the whole thing and hope that translated into a faster time than at the Resolution Run. Running a full three mile race was a HUGE goal of mine last year and it took a solid three months of training to achieve it. I was really eager to get back to that stage for this race. Julie and our third #RunningBadass2012 Kate had similar goals for this race as well. So, in the spirit of the race, I threw my heart into it, gutted out the full 3.1 miles without walking and was rewarded with a 33:08 final time. Things are looking up!

Race #3: JLA ShamRock ‘n’ Roll 5K:

Goal: Beat my time from this same race last year (so, sub-32:26).

While technically this race did have a charity component (raising money for the Junior League of Atlanta), I didn’t enter it for that reason and therefore, didn’t think of it as a charity race. Rather, for the second year in a row, Mike’s office sponsored a small team and I ran this race alongside them. Last year, this race came up on the calendar towards the end of my Women on the Move training group and I had high expectations to run the whole thing, only to be defeated by an unexpected large hill in the middle of the course. This year, I was armed with knowledge about the course and together with my success at Hearts and Soles, I knew that this was going to be a good race for me – and it was! I felt strong throughout the race and was thrilled to cross the finish line in 32:00 flat, knocking a full 26 seconds off my time from last year!

Celebrating two 5K PRs after the Women's 5K!

Race #4: ATC Atlanta Women’s 5K:

Goal: Set a new 5K PR, which I set at this same race last year (so, sub-31:22).

This is the first time I’ve ever entered a race solely focused on setting a PR and as soon as I vocalized to Mike that that was my goal, I got really nervous about actually being able to hit it. Running sub-31 minutes meant close to (or under) 10 minute miles for the whole race, which was faster than I had been training. But I had felt really strong on my training runs and at JLA, I was familiar with (and LOVED) this course, and I really wanted to see if I could hit that PR knowing that it’s going to be awhile before I run another competitive 5K. I set off with my fellow #RunningBadasses2012, steadily increased my pace over the course of the race, blasted through the finish line at a dead sprint and was THRILLED with my 30:19 PR!!

Over the course of these three months, I’ve managed to drop 4 minutes and 15 seconds from my 5K time, something that I’m incredibly proud of. My fellow #RunningBadasses2012 have likewise seen similar improvements in their times, making our “partnership” successful all around! So, with my new PR in my back pocket, it’s time to look forward to the next three months of running: new distances, new challenges, and maybe a chance at a new 10K PR as well.

Oh, and in addition to my own races, I’ve also volunteered at two additional races this winter/early spring: the inaugural Intown 10K and the Publix Georgia Marathon. I’ve started compiling my photos from my various race volunteering experiences in this album, in case you’re curious.

What’s Next for 2012: Charity Race Season!

While I do have at least one other competitive race on my calendar between now and July (the ATC Father’s Day 4-miler in June), it’s time for me to get focused on the real reason that I started running again: to help raise money for cancer charities, especially those focused on breast cancer and especially breast cancer research. For me, the Charity Race Season is marked with a series of races where having fun and doing good is far more important than running fast. The first of these “fun runs” (and in this case, it really was insanely fun!) took place last weekend: The Color Run!! This 5K road race wasn’t a fundraising event per se, but it did raise money for one of my favorite local causes, the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta (or CHOA). A number of my friends who are new to running/exclusively walkers also did this “run” with me as part of Team Twitter ATL which made it all the more fun! Being super familiar with the route around Piedmont Park (where I run almost every day), I chose to jog between the color stations and then wait for my teammates to run through each of the color stations together. As a result, I was able to get a ton of great pictures both out on the course and at the big color party at the finish line. It was a really fabulous way to spend the morning and it was the perfect way to kick off Charity Race Season!



Team Twitter ATL on the route (L) and celebrating at the finish line (R)

Now that most of the colors have been washed out of my hair, I’m starting to look ahead to the rest of my charity race schedule this spring and early summer. Namely, the charity races I’ll be running this “season” are:

(1) the Atlanta Race for the Cure (May 12th), a 5K benefiting the Atlanta affiliate of Komen for the Cure

(2) the Warrior Dash (May 19th), a 5K-ish mud run benefiting St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital

(3) the Peachtree Road Race (July 4th), the world’s largest 10K road race, which I’m running this year to benefit a cancer charity that is still TBD while I’m still setting things up over on Crowd Rise.

For each of these races, I WILL be actively fundraising. Because these events all overlap, I’m actually going to be fundraising for all three of my selected charities simultaneously, with a specific fundraising goal for each one and a larger goal to encompass all three events. I’ll be going into more detail about why these charities/events and how you can donate in my next blog post, so keep reading!

And that, I think, wraps up my running recap for 2012 to date! I’m going to continue updating the Kristen Runs pages over the next few months and I’ll be writing up official training, fundraising and race recap posts for each of my charity races as well. I’m getting really excited for this stage of my race calendar and even more excited to be sharing my progress with my blog readers again!


Who knew running could be this much fun?!

 

Atlanta Race for the Cure Wrap Up

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

As I wrote a few days ago, this past Saturday, May 7th, I ran in the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure!

In my previous post, I noted the myriad of reasons that I love the Race for the Cure and Saturday did not disappoint. This was my fifth Atlanta Race for the Cure and my seventh Race overall, and to me, it was the best one yet! From spending time with my Team Twitter teammates to FINALLY running the whole darn race to our post-race team brunch, the whole morning was just PERFECT.

One of the things that made this year’s Race so great was the team that I was a part of. In the past I have walked/run with either my husband or a handful of friends. But other than when my whole family got together for the CNY Race for the Cure back in 2007, I haven’t really had a big team to experience the event with. Over the past year, I have had the pleasure to get to know a lot of my fellow passionate breast cancer advocates across the country, first through social media and then in person. As you could maybe glean from my blog, our group of charity walkers/runners here in the south east has been particularly active, getting together for training walks, fundraisers and sometimes, just for lunch. As many of us have participated in the Race for the Cure in the past, we decided that it was only fitting that this year, we band together and form our own team, Team Twitter!

Team Twitter

My good friend Julie (or @knittingbagel, as she is known on Twitter) set up our team and served as Team Captain. Ultimately, we ended up with twelve team members, including eight 3 Day walkers (one of whom was pregnant!), two significant others, one mom and even Julie’s five year old daughter (affectionately known online as “Niblette”) who was a part of the Kids for the Cure portion of the event. Julie and I ran in the 5K with my husband Mike, a few of our out of town teammates opted to “sleep in for the cure” and the rest of our team walked in the one mile event. It was great to see everyone participating at the level that was right for them. We all cheered each other on and had a really great time.

Our warpaint is pink!

Team Twitter was also very lucky to be sponsored this year by another member of the 3 Day Tweeps, Laura Davis (or @ldavis1800). Laura owns and operates the New Discoveries shop in Chicago, IL and was very generous in providing our team shirts for the Race this year.  You can (and absolutely should!) check out Laura’s online shop at www.shopnewdiscoveries.com. She sells some absolutely beautiful things from new artists that are well worth your time to browse through. Julie designed our “Pink Warrior Twitter Bird” logo (a variant of our cheerful 3 Day Tweeps Twitter Bird mascot), which we all proudly wore for the race. The shirts are really fantastic and we could not have gotten them without Laura’s support!

As far as the race itself, I made pretty decent time. Because there were no digital timing tags, I used the CardioTrainer app on my phone to track my time, which ultimately came out to 33 minutes, 26 seconds. However, when you are racing with 18,000 people, most of whom are perfectly happy to just mosey along the route, you can’t really get a good stride or rhythm going for at least the first half mile to a mile. I also know I started the app before I actually got to the starting line. So I figure I can scratch a few minutes off of my recorded time, making my actual race time closer to what I ran in the Atlanta Women’s 5K, which was 31 minutes, 22 seconds. The most important thing is that I ran the whole race (for the first time in three attempts at the Race for the Cure and for the second race in a row!), the race itself felt pretty easy to get through and I had fun doing it. I am calling the whole thing a victory for me.

Post race photos with Julie (left) and Mike (right)

All in all, it was a really great morning. I got to see my 3 Day buddies again, I met some of the Komen Atlanta volunteers that I’ve been communicating with through Twitter and email, I had a great race and we wrapped the whole thing up with a fantastic post race team brunch at West Egg Cafe. We couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather. What an excellent way to start the weekend!

If you would like to make a donation to Komen Atlanta in support of me or any of my Team Twitter teammates, it is not too late!  We can and will be taking donations through May 31st. You can find our Team Twitter team page here and you can find my personal page here. Just as a reminder – Julie, Mike and I will be running in the Warrior Dash next weekend, as the second part of our personal “Pink Warrior Challenge”. As we put ourselves through this test of our pink warrior-ness, we would love to have your support! While we may be running to prove our mettle, millions of women, including my own mom, face a much greater test every day as they battle breast cancer. Please consider making a donation today in support of all of the true pink warriors out there!

You can view all of my pictures in the Picasa slideshow below or by clicking over to the Photo Gallery page for this event, here.



We Did It!

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

One week ago yesterday, my Relentless Optimism teammates and I walked across the finish line of the Boston 2010 3 Day for the Cure!
Jen and I on the route!
It was a long, hot, emotional weekend but one that I would gladly take on again and again.  Having my life long best friends by my side for this incredible journey was wonderful – we laughed, we cried, we ached and in the end, we were arm in arm as we walked into Closing Ceremonies, 60 miles closer to a world a without breast cancer.

I have so many stories to share with all of you and I will do my best to start posting my thoughts and stories from the event soon.  However, I am in the last throes of my PhD thesis work and now that the hard work of training is behind me, I really do need to refocus my efforts on my school work.  But rest assured, Kristen is still walking and will still be posting!  (To lapse into the third person for a minute…)

The first goal for KW will be to catch up on my Blog Link posts from the last few weeks.  A lot of people in the 3 Day community have mentioned how much they appreciate those posts and I love putting them together, so that will be happening this week.  I am also hard at work touching up my photos from the 3 Day (over 600!) in order to post them online ASAP.  And once those photos are up, it will be story time!

Thank you all so very much for your support of me and my teammates throughout this adventure.  It has meant more to me than I can possibly say!
With my teammates at the finish line!
Oh, and don’t forget!  There is still time to donate!  We can accept donations up until four weeks after the walk (so three weeks from today!).  If you would still like to donate, you can do so on my personal donation page on the the 3 Day website.  Thanks!

***Please note that both of the photos in this post are courtesy of Brian Ristuccia, who was taking photos throughout the Boston 3 Day and kindly posted them on Facebook for all of the walkers and crew members to see.  Thank you Brian!

The Atlanta 3 Day Tweeps Training Walk!

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

One of the greatest things about the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure is the community of people that are involved in it.  3 Day people are optimistic, supportive and wonderful.  And that spirit of community expands far beyond the 3 Day event itself.  This past year, I have met so many great 3 Day walkers and crew members through Twitter.  Chatting with these great ladies and men is like getting a hit of 3 Day spirit every day.

Recently, a number of us Atlanta “tweeps” (or people on Twitter, for the uninitiated) got to chatting and we decided to meet up for a training walk.  We all decided to head up to the Silver Comet Trail this past Saturday for a nice nine mile walk between the Floyd Road and Mavell Road trailheads.  Due to scheduling conflicts, many of the ladies were unable to join us.  However, there were four of us that braved the rain and made it out on Saturday for our walk: myself (@kscincotta on Twitter), Julie (@knittingbagel), Lilly (@gphigirl) and 3 Day newbie Pam (@lilshadetree).  And of course, we were joined by a famous guest for our walk: Mug (aka @3DayMug)!  

After a few weekends of long solo training walks, it was a very nice to have some people to talk to.  We had a great chat during our walk and had a lot of fun, even though we had to dodge a few rainstorms along the way.  A little ice cream from the Silver Comet Depot post-walk and some incredibly nice gifts from Lilly rounded out an excellent morning of training.  It was truly the best way to spend my last weekend of training before the Boston 3 Day for the Cure in a few days!  Thanks ladies!

You can check out more of my photos from our training walk in this album on my Picasa page or in the slideshow below.  Enjoy!

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