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Running For More…

The personal blog and website of Kristen Cincotta

Posts Tagged ‘Publix Georgia Half Marathon’

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!

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!