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Running For More…

The personal blog and website of Kristen Cincotta

Posts Tagged ‘Race for the Cure’

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!

Training Tuesday – Atlanta 3 Day, Week 1

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

This post is part of a series of posts that will document my 16 weeks of training for the Atlanta 3 Day in October. To read the rest of the posts in this series, please click here.

The first two weeks of training for the 2015 Atlanta 3 Day are officially in the books! It’s been hot and busy around here, but I’ve been doing my best to follow the training plan that I laid out in this post. In the interest of accountability, I’m going to do my best to use these Training Tuesday posts to recap how my previous week (or weeks) went. So let’s get to it!

Week of June 29th – July 5th

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A great moment from my first morning of training!

In general, the first week went well, although that isn’t really a surprise since it was basically the same running routine I’ve been loosely following for the last six months. I did miss my mid-week run on Thursday though due an uncooperative baby and some really exciting family news, although I justified that as being part of my “taper” ahead of the Peachtree Road Race. At this early stage in training, I can get away with skipping some runs here and there, but as the weeks go on, I’m really going to have to buckle down and get in my miles. Otherwise, the wheels are going to come off at the 3 Day and that’s just not okay with me. If I’m injured and can’t walk, that’s one thing, but if I don’t make it those 60 miles due to my own laziness? Nope. Not ok.

Monday

Ran 2.98 miles (plus 4 sets of strides) before work + 30 minutes of core strength before bed

Got in my miles super early and was treated to the most spectacular sunrise. This felt like a great omen for how the rest of my training is going to go!

Tuesday

30 minutes of core strength

At the beginning of June, I joined a 30 day core strength challenge on Facebook that KICKED. MY. BUTT. This was the last day of the challenge and I was ready to be done with it. The challenge was sit-ups, crunches, leg raises, and planks, with an increasing number of reps of each as the month progressed. On the last day, I did 125 sit ups, 200 crunches, 65 leg raises, and a 2 minute plank. I’m stoked I completed all 30 days (on time!) and I am definitely much stronger through my core than a month ago, but PHEW. That was a lot of work!

Wednesday

Rest day!

Wednesdays are always marked as running days on my training schedule, but I’m considering these Wednesday runs as my “bonus” runs each week. If I can complete them, I will. But my husband runs on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, so my only options for these runs are pushing the running stroller after work or on the treadmill at the gym at my office. By making these runs “optional”, I’m building in some schedule flexibility for when life things come up as well. In this case, I got caught up at work and didn’t have time to run. Oh well.

Thursday

Rest day!

This SHOULD have been an early morning run. However, Dash woke up right when I should’ve been heading out the door and just did not want to go back to sleep. So I got stuck. I thought about making it up at the gym after work but I forgot to bring my gym bag with me. TWO of my cousins had babies on this day and a large group of us were keeping up with all of the excitement via group text all day long. So I was just a tad distracted this entire day. I decided to just consider it a mini-taper before the Peachtree and settled in to look at pictures of the newest Reeves babies.

Friday

Rest day!

At a minimum, this should’ve been knee PT, and preferably a make up run, especially since I didn’t have to work. But I decided to use my rare day off to sleep in and I just didn’t get another chance during the day to get my run in. In the afternoon, we all headed to the Peachtree Expo, where I volunteered for the Atlanta Track Club. Love being surrounded by the energy of a race expo!


Hanging out at the Peachtree Expo with my fellow Atlanta Track Club Ambassadors!

Hanging out at the Peachtree Expo with my fellow Atlanta Track Club Ambassadors!

Saturday

Peachtree Road Race 10k (which, by my Garmin, was 6.5 miles – WHOOPS!)

One of my favorite races every year. Splashed down Peachtree in a thunder storm and finished in a solid 1:04:50. Still a few minutes off from my pre-pregnancy PR, but a solid effort. More details to come in an actual race recap soon!


Celebrating at the Atlanta Track Club Members' party after the Peachtree!

Celebrating at the Atlanta Track Club Members’ party after the Peachtree!

Sunday

One hour of “Yoga for Runners” from Yoga Today

A few years ago, I purchased three hour long yoga videos from Yoga Today that I absolutely love and “Yoga for Runners” is my favorite of the three. It felt GREAT after giving it a solid effort at the Peachtree the day before.

Total Planned Miles: 12

Total Completed Miles:  9.48

Total Cross Training workouts: 3/3 

Total knee PT: none (unacceptable, Cincotta!)

 

Week of July 6th – 12th

Week 2 brought with it my first back-to-back long training walks! I was able to finish both of them at a much faster pace than I expected, which was a big confidence boost. Of course, pace doesn’t matter AT ALL on the actual 3-Day. In fact, if you’re walking too fast, you’ll miss all of the best of the event. But I’m a busy person and those training walks are going to get really long, really soon. The faster I can bang out my training miles, the better!

Monday

Ran 2.95 miles (plus 6 sets of strides) + upper body strength before work

Got up early and got it done. I was surprised at how quickly I was able to complete my planned upper body workout, especially given that I was still sore from yoga the previous day.

Tuesday

Rest day!

Wednesday

Rest day!

I had every intention of running over to pick up Dash from daycare after work because we had a new water meter installed and I was working from home all afternoon. However, the workmen didn’t come back to check the installation and turn our hot water back on until almost 5pm, which was way too late for me to run over. In fact, they were so late, I didn’t make it to daycare at all. Hubs had to pick up Dash on his way home from work instead. Super frustrating.

Thursday

Ran 3.29 total miles of speed work (10 min warm up jog over to the track, 6 x 1 minutes at 5k pace with 2:30 minutes of recovery, 10 min cool down jog home)

This workout felt SUPER easy. I hit paces that were WAY faster than expected (I averaged an 8:20 pace!) and I felt like the recovery intervals were too long. It was encouraging, to be sure, but I’m clearly underestimating what I can do. Speed work should be challenging and this just wasn’t.

I received some pretty tough news at work on Thursday morning, so I was strongly thinking about pounding out some stress (and making up my Wednesday run!) by heading home from work early and running over with the stroller to pick up Dash from daycare. But when I left work, it was literally 100 degrees. Yeah, that wasn’t happening.

Friday

Rest day!

I had planned to do a second strength workout plus some knee PT before work but the baby woke up super early and didn’t really want to go back to bed. So I skipped it.

Saturday

Walked 5.06 miles early in the morning

Got up early to get these miles in before my day really started. I walked 2.5 sort of slow miles around the neighborhood with my “OG” training partner, Shenanigans, and 2.5 miles on my own. I decided to explore the undeveloped northern stretch of what will be the Eastside Beltline trail extension and had a blast. I walked along trails and abandoned railroad tracks and felt like I was miles and miles from home. I would never go this way if I was running due to the uneven terrain, so this was a nice treat.

IMG_1956 The future Beltline!
With my best girl and original training partner! The future Beltline!

Afterwards, I headed to the Peachtree Road Farmer’s Market and helped Komen Atlanta distribute upcycled “market totes” made from old Race for the Cure t-shirts. Anything to spread the word and increase Race awareness!


Showing off my Pinterest skillz.

Showing off my Pinterest skillz.

Sunday

Walked 6.25 miles pushing Dash in the stroller followed by an hour of Ashtanga yoga

I expected that pushing the stroller would really slow me down (since it definitely slows down my running pace) but Dash and I really cranked on these miles. He was such a trooper too. Not too long ago, he would start fussing if he had to be in the stroller for more than 15 or 20 minutes, and today he hung in there like a champ for an hour and 39 minutes. Must be all that “base building” we’ve been doing walking around town and festivals for the past four months!

Yoga was tough but I was glad I got it done. I needed to stretch after pushing it for 11 miles of walking this weekend.

Total Planned Miles: 6.25-ish running, 11 miles walking

Total Completed Miles:  6.24 miles running, 11.31 miles walking

Total Cross Training workouts: 2/3 

Total knee PT: none (you’ll be ticked off when your knee implodes, Cincotta!)

Print

As always, I am putting in all of these miles to prepare for the Atlanta 3 Day which benefits Susan G. Komen. If you’d like to make a donation in support of my efforts, you can do so here. Thanks!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Welcome to 2014!

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

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

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

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

Nope. Never made it there. Boo.

Nope. Never made it there. Boo.

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

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

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

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

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

Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure logo

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

Announcements!

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

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

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

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

ACS Making Strides Logo

Click on the image above to join my team!

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

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

Komen Atlanta Logo

 

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

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

ATC New Logo

 

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

ACS Determination Logo 2

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

 

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.

2013 Mid-Year Check In Part 2: Goals Update

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

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

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

Celebrating after completing my first half marathon in March!

Running Goals

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

Fundraising Goals

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

Advocacy Goals

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

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

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

2013 Mid-Year Check In Part 1: Racing Recap

Monday, July 15th, 2013

So, it turns out that finding time to blog while working full time is a little harder than I anticipated. But that’s ok, I love a good challenge. I promise to keep trying to find time to blog if you all promise to keep finding time to read what I write. Deal?

Running in the Publix Georgia Half Marathon!

Back in early March, I wrote about my goals for 2013 which included goals for running, fundraising, and advocacy. One of my advocacy goals was to get back into blogging, including both weekly fundraising updates and monthly training updates. To date, I have written zero of those blog posts. Whoops. So over the course of two posts this week, I’m going to try to get caught up a little on what should have been in those posts. Tonight, I’m going to focus on a general running update for the first half of 2013 and Wednesday night, I’ll have a post up looking specifically at my progress on those goals I posted about in March.

(Update: you can read Part 2 of my mid-year update on my goals for 2013 here!)

But First – A Recap of My Running History To Date

For those who are new, I sort of started running back in the spring of 2010, when I used a Coach to 5K program to train for the Atlanta Race for the Cure and then stretched myself out for the Peachtree Road Race 10k. And then I took a nasty spill on a run and got busy at work (I was still in grad school at the time) and well, I stopped running for about six months. Then I kicked things up again in January 2011 when I realized that writing my dissertation meant A LOT of inside time sitting on my butt. So I signed up for Atlanta Track Club’s Women on the Move 5k training group, which I rolled right into their 10k training group for the Peachtree. I also sprinkled a few other races in there as well. And then after the Peachtree, I realized I had to buckle down or I would never finish my dissertation. So I stopped running again. Ugh.

At the beginning of 2012, I made it my goal to sustain my running throughout the whole year. For the first half of the year, I trained regularly but took a fairly relaxed attitude towards my races. I had fun with friends at the ATC Grand Prix races and the Color Run, walked the Race for the Cure with my family, got muddy in the Warrior Dash, and just generally was laid back about the whole running thing. It was more about running consistently at that point, rather than running better. And you know what? I didn’t get better! I was consistently around the 32 minute mark for my 5Ks and I ran my slowest Peachtree ever that July. And the week after the Peachtree, I ran a particularly miserable 5k as part of the Beltline racing series. And that was when I got fed up with my lack of progress.

After that Beltline race, I starting setting some real goals for myself, starting with my first double digit race mileage – an early fall 10 miler that was part of the ATC Grand Prix series. I put actual speed work on my training schedule, starting running more regularly with the Phidippides running group on Thursday nights, paid attention to my diet and how different foods affected my running, and started mixing in some strength training and yoga. In short, rather than burning out in the fall like I had the previous two years, I kicked things up a notch. And slowly but surely, I started seeing some improvements in my racing – I set a 10k PR that September and beat my goal time in the 10 miler by more than 10 minutes. So, encouraged by my success, I put some big goals on my calendar for 2013…

Racing in 2013 – Suddenly, I’m Speedy!

So that brings us to this year, which has been by far my best running season to date. I continued to build on my hard work and success in the fall and have been shredding my PRs left and right this year. Seriously: I’ve set NINE new PRs so far in 2013. NINE. I’ve set PRs at EVERY distance that I’ve raced this year: 2 miles, 5K (three times!), 4 miles, 8k, 10k, 15k, and half marathon! Granted, a few were because those distances were new for me (2 miles, 8k, 15k, half), but five of them were legitimate, “I’ve never run this fast”, PRs.

Not only have I suddenly become a speedy little mid-packer (because let’s be honest, I’m still not setting land speed records over here… ), but I’m also enjoying running more than ever. I’m getting to know more people in the running community here in Atlanta and look forward to seeing new friends at my races. I don’t feel like I’m stressed out on my runs even though I’m clocking much faster paces even on my training runs. Everything has really been clicking for me this year and I’m optimistic that it will continue this fall. I’ve scaled back on mileage over the last couple months as I’ve focused on building speed going into the Peachtree (always a “benchmark” race for me), but now I’m ready to build distance again as I start training for a fall half marathon and a pair of 10 milers. It should be a fun fall, provided I can stay injury-free!

(Which, well, maybe not. I rolled an ankle on my run last Thursday and then somewhat stubbornly raced an ATC 4 miler on it on Saturday morning because I wanted the Grand Prix finish. I’ve been hobbling around ever since. The pain comes and goes and seems to be the most pronounced when my ankle gets stiff or I try to move side to side. Hopefully, a few days of ice and rest and I’ll be as good as new. But you never know.)

Highlights from the first half of 2013

  • Running my first sub-30 minute 5K in January
  • Finishing my first half-marathon in March
  • Taking part in the Phidippides Boston Tribute Run in April and hearing the stories from our local runners who were there. It was a terrible thing that brought us together but a powerful and meaningful event to be a part of.
  • All those PRs. I mean, seriously.
  • KILLING it at the Peachtree after three straight years of progressively slower finish times

Lowlights from the first half of 2013

  • Losing my racing partner to injuries, twice – Mike had an achilles injury that kept him mostly sidelined through March and is currently dealing with a knee injury that is likely to keep him out through the first part of August.
  • Two DNSs – we bailed on the ATC Resolution Run on January 1st due to amazingly bad weather and then the ATC Women’s 5K was canceled right at race time due to lightening.
  • SO. MUCH. RAIN. I’m pretty sure we’ve only had three race days with blue skies. Craziness.
  • And now this ankle thing. Hopefully it will be short-lived.

Quick and Dirty Race Recaps

FYI: You can find all of my race times on my race results/schedule page here and all of my race pics here. I’m also going to writing some “Race Recap Flashbacks” in the next few days or so in order to properly cover the Publix Georgia Half Marathon back in March, the Atlanta Race for the Cure in May, and the Peachtree.

Race 1: Hot Chocolate 15k (1:36.36)

While I had been targeting this race since last fall, I wasn’t able to secure a number until just over a week before the race. As a result, I hadn’t really properly trained and tapered before this longer race. It turns out that it didn’t matter – the weather was unseasonably warm for January, I loved the course, and I finished quite a bit faster than I was expected. LOVED all that chocolate at the end too, even though the temps were pushing 70 degrees!

Race 2: Peachtree City 5K (29:09)

My first ATC Grand Prix race of the year and definitely one of my best. I was expecting much on this insanely cold morning, and out of nowhere, I FINALLY ran a sub-30 minute 5k. And not only did I run a sub-30 min 5k, I beat it by A LOT. Even though this was a low key, small race, I’m sure I’ll never forget it. This was a major, major milestone for me.

Race 3: Hearts and Soles 5K (29:11)

Second ATC Grand Prix and another wicked cold morning. Came super close to my PR from the previous race which was really encouraging – this race proved that my first sub-30 minute 5k wasn’t just a fluke!

Race 4: Publix Georgia Half Marathon (2:14.10)

I’m going to write a longer recap on this one soon, I PROMISE. But briefly: everything about this race went about as perfectly as I could have hoped for. The weather was great, I ran well throughout, I high-fived a ton of little kids, and I beat my A Time Goal (sub-2:20) in my first ever half-marathon. Add to that a smashing fundraising success and well, it was FABULOUS birthday for me!

Race 5: Northwestern Road to the Final 4 5k (28:47.19)

We had been planning to run the Color Run this weekend and then got shut out because I waited to long for us to register. It actually worked out for the best, though, because we got to run this 5k (which benefitted the American Cancer Society’s Coaches vs Cancer program) instead. As my 3-Day family had lost one of our own the day before, it just felt right to run a charity race like this in her honor. Bridget’s spirit carried me along and I was able to set my second 5k PR of the year.

Race 6: Spring has Sprung 8k (48:13)

After the half marathon in March, I had been hoping to run the 15k distance for this race, my third ATC Grand Prix. However, life intervened a bit and without any longer runs in the book since the half, I decided to scale back and stick with the 8k. Even then, I didn’t have high hopes, so I was pretty pleased with my final time.

Race 7: 420Fest 5K (28:32)

This was the first race in our self-styled “Festival” race series. All of the neighborhoods here in Atlanta have street festivals at various times during the year and most of them have some sort of road race as part of the festivities. We made it an unofficial goal to run as many of these festival races as we can this year. This was the first of those races and one I was particularly excited for. This course is very similar to the Atlanta Women’s 5k that was canceled back in March – a course I’ve PRd on twice before. Clearly, this is still my lucky course – I set my third 5k PR this year!

Race 8: The EIS 2 Mile Prediction Run (17:06)

Easily the least traditional race I’ll run this year (it was on a Tuesday night!). This tiny race was part of the CDC’s annual EIS Conference and started as an opportunity for the incoming and renewing EIS officers to get in their physical fitness requirements. For fun, this race was a prediction run, meaning the runner closest to their predicted time wins. Seeing that the course went partially off-road and forgetting I’m running faster this year, I predicted 19 minutes. Then I finished in just over 17 minutes. Whoops.

Race 9: Inman Park Festival Rocket Run 5k (29:39)

This was my 3rd race in eight days, plus I also participated in the Boston Solidarity Run and a charity walk for Lupus awareness in that same time span. So by the time we got to this race (the 2nd of our Festival Runs), I was EXHAUSTED. Plus, this neighborhood is particularly hilly. Mike and I took it fairly during this race. I didn’t PR but I was still able to stay sub-30 minutes. After all of that racing, I considered this a victory.

Race 10: Lauren’s Run 5k (28:55)

This was a charity race benefitting CURE Childhood Cancer. It was also REALLY rainy that morning. I logged my third sub-29 minute 5k of the year and happily headed home to warm up!

Race 11: Atlanta Race for the Cure

I didn’t actually run this race – I was the Safety Chair. I will be recapping my experiences soon though!

Race 12: Virginia-Highlands Summerfest 5k (29:45.9)

The third of our Festival Races. This course was CRAZY hard – hills after hills after hills. This was also our first really hot race of the year, which is actually really late for Atlanta. I was really frustrated by how poorly I ran in this race but felt much better after hearing that other runners struggled just as much. JUST squeaked in under 30 minutes for the seventh time this year.

Race 13: Braves Country Father’s Day 4 Miler (38:17)

After setting PRs at the 2 mile, 5k, and 8k distances this year, I REALLY wanted a 4 mile PR in this race. I also remembered loving this course last year – it ends behind home plate at Turner Field! – so I went into this race with high expectations. I also wanted redemption after my crummy Summerfest race. When I busted across that finish line and saw 38 minutes on the clock, I was STOKED.

Race 14: AJC Peachtree Road Race 10k (1:01:02)

I’m going to do a Race Recap Flashback on this race as well. After three years of progressively slower times in the Peachtree, I didn’t just set a Peachtree PR. I BLEW away my 10k PR, dropping over 4 minutes off my time. It was rainy and muddy and I loved every second of this giant party of a race!

Race 15: Dekalb-Decatur 4 Miler (38:34)

This was the race I ran this past weekend on a sore ankle. My race plan was to run as strongly as I could until my ankle couldn’t do any more and then walk the rest. As it turned out, my ankle held up for the full distance and I only missed my PR by 17 seconds, which was kind of shocking to me. However, my ankle really started to ache shortly after the race ended and it hasn’t been the same since. So while the race turned out great, it probably wasn’t my smartest move. Oh well.

So that’s the first half of 2013, in a nutshell. I had no idea I’d raced 14 times (plus the Race for the Cure and a Lupus walk) already this year until just now. That’s probably a few races more than is ideal but hey – I’ve been on a roll and I haven’t wanted to stop. Hopefully this ankle thing won’t lay me up for too long and I can get back out on the roads soon. Fall half marathon training starts soon!

With my brother-in-law Matt and Mike before the Peachtree!

Don’t forget to check back later this week for part 2 of my mid-year check in – my goals update!

 

Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going – Goals for 2013

Monday, March 4th, 2013

So… I got a new job, blogged about getting said new job, and then promptly got so busy at said new job that I haven’t blogged anything in over two months. Whoops.

Ultimately, while I’m bummed that my blogging has slid by the wayside, I think it’s probably okay. I really want to build this short term fellowship opportunity with the Injury Center at the CDC into a full time job and a life-long career in public health, so disappearing down a hole to really focus on my work for a bit is exactly where my primary focus SHOULD be right now. For those who are curious, it has been going well. My project is really starting to take off and I continue to really enjoy both the type of tasks I’ve been assigned (and in some cases voluntarily taken on) and the type of thinking required to complete them. It’s been a challenge, but one that I’ve found very motivating. And I L-O-V-E being a part of the CDC community!

IMG_1632

This binder was my best friend for a while back in January.

I should also point out that while I haven’t been blogging, I haven’t completely given up my breast cancer activism either. Back in January, I spent a somewhat delirious week and a half absolutely buried in Komen Atlanta Community Grant applications, followed by a fascinating evening listening to really smart, engaged women discuss the merits of the various grantees. It was a great experience throughout and even though the final grantee list for 2013-2014 hasn’t been posted yet, I’m already looking forward to doing it again next year. I’ve also been attending committee chair meetings for the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure that is fast approaching (May 11th – have you registered yet?). My committee work has been basically non-existant thus far (as Safety Chair, there isn’t much to do until closer to the race date), although that will change this month when my responsibilities really kick in. However, it’s been eye-opening to sit in and listen to the behind-the-scenes chatter of how all of the pieces come together for race day.

The other thing that has been eating up my time in early 2013 has been running. I have been running my butt off this winter. I’ve already notched two PRs and came dang close to a third one, all the while training for my first half marathon that will take place just 12 days from now (EEEK!). I’ve spent a little bit of time over on my Kristen Runs pages updating my race results thus far and I’m in the process of updating my 2013 race schedule as well. You can be sure that I’ll post a quick update once that’s all set, hopefully by next weekend.

All of which brings us nicely to what I HAVEN’T been doing and how I am about to rectify that, starting tonight. And that thing is FUNDRAISING.

Back in January, I had big plans for a post about New Year’s Resolutions and my personal training and fundraising goals for 2013. And then one thing (work deadline!) led to another (grant reviews are due!) led to another (I need to update the race results from last year first… ) led to another (business travel? what’s business travel?) led to another (the dog ate the furniture!)…. and it just never happened, despite having actually set my goals for 2013 weeks and months ago. I wasn’t honestly sure I was going to even dedicate a blog post to my goals this year, but then tonight I saw that no less than Dean Karnazes wrote on Runner’s World that for fitness goals and resolutions, March is the new January, so I’m taking it as a sign. Plus, I clearly need some public accountability since I’ve been slow to get off the ground with some of these. So, without any further fanfare, here are my 2013 goals for (1) Running, (2) Fundraising and (3) Advocacy:

Running Goals

Celebrating at the finish line of the Hot Chocolate 15K in January!

  • Sub-30 minutes 5K – Not to spoil the ending, but I’ve already done this TWICE this year after never breaking this barrier before!
  • 10K PR – Because I’m SICK of getting slower at the Peachtree every year.
  • Complete two half-marathons – I’m definitely running the Publix Georgia Half Marathon on March 17th (my birthday weekend!) and I’m planning on running the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon in October on Mike’s birthday weekend as well.
  • Complete eight Atlanta Track Club Grand Prix races – I really want that sweet end of the season shirt. We’ve completed two already!
  • Volunteer ten times for the Atlanta Track Club – This isn’t a random number; there are end of the year gifts for volunteering ten or more times and I’m annoyed that I didn’t know that last year.
  • Total annual mileage of > 750 miles – This is notch up from the 600 something miles I ran last year. With my half marathon training, I’m well on pace to hit this goal!

Fundraising Goals

Advocacy Goals

  • Weekly fundraising updates and monthly training updates here on my blog
  • At least two blog posts per month not related to my races or fundraising to continue to spread the word about the need for more cancer research funding and how everyone can get involved.
  • Volunteer with Komen Atlanta or other local cancer not-for-profits at least six times this year (beyond my Race for the Cure and Community Grants commitments). In particular, I’d really love to get more involved with the American Cancer Society.

So those are my goals. Out there for everyone to see and read. I have always been a very goal-oriented person. When I set goals, I intend to do everything in my power to achieve them, even when things get tough and the world seems to be working against me. I WILL reach each of these goals, even those I’m already behind on.

Speaking of which… if you just read my goals, you hopefully just said to yourself, “Wait, if you’re trying to raise $1000 for this Capital Campaign thing by the end of March, why haven’t I heard anything about it???” Well, the reason you haven’t heard anything about it is because it took longer than I anticipated to get everything for that fundraiser up and running. But the good news is, I’m finally ready to kick off that fundraiser, which I’m calling “Run for the ROC“. And I’m doing it TONIGHT, in my very next blog post!

My BIG News – Dr. C Got a Job!

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

So… I sort of fell off the #NHBPM wagon. The goal was to write 30 blogs posts in 30 days. And I promise, I had every intention of doing just that. But yet, it’s now December 3rd and I only wrote/published 3 posts. I feel sort of bad about that. But not too bad, because I had a REALLY good reason for not posting:

I GOT A JOB!!!

It was a very long hiring process, one that honestly stretches back to last December when I applied for a public health policy research position on a team working on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As it turns out, I didn’t get that job. But my resume did catch the eye of the team lead, who also serves as the acting branch chief for the Health Systems and Trauma Systems Branch in the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention (DUIP), which is a part of the larger National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). When the next possible opening on the TBI team came up in May, she got in touch with me and we had a phone interview that went great.

And then I didn’t hear anything more all summer, other than assurances that NCIPC/DUIP were re-organizing and they’d be in touch. In the mean time, I continued applying for other jobs (and hearing nothing… ), researching possible fellowship opportunities, and networking, networking, NETWORKING. Anyone that I came into contact with who had even the most remote connection to a place I wanted to work or experience in the fields I’m interested in, I was all over it. In August, I spent over an hour chatting up a very nice woman who happened to work at the CDC while hanging out at my friend Kristin’s pool. And that conversation was where I learned about ORISE fellowships.

ORISE is an acronym, that stands for Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, a Department of Energy (DOE) institute focused on recruiting scientists and engineers to work on a whole host of health, science, and engineering issues. ORISE itself is a physical place located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee that is managed by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) consortium. However, not all ORISE scientists work in Tennessee. Rather, ORAU also sponsors a series of ORISE fellowships at a number of member institutions and partners, including at the CDC here in Atlanta.

So, what does this have to do with my new job? Well, as part of the big reorganization over in the NCIPC/DUIP, a team working on public health policy relating to prescription drug overdose (PDO) was relocated into the Health Systems Branch, which, as I noted above, is currently under the direction of the head of the TBI team that I interviewed with. The PDO team happened to have openings for two ORISE fellows to work on a two year project evaluating a series of state-run prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). And my contact, who was still looking for a way to bring me in, recommended that I apply for the position, which I did.

And then I didn’t hear anything for over a month.

Thinking that the lack of communication meant the fellowship was a long shot at best, I soldiered on, pursuing networking opportunities with a commitment that could best be described as “relentless fervor”. As part of this pursuit, I figured out a way to attend the Network for Public Health Law Conference here in Atlanta in mid-October. The conference was awesome and I learned A LOT. But more importantly, I met A LOT of people who were generous with their time and really went out of their ways to help me build my networks within the public health field. As it turns out, one of the people that I met at the conference just so happened to work on the PDO team at the CDC. And he went back to his team lead and talked me up, effectively moving my resume to the top of the pile.

[Side note: When you are looking for a job, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, will tell you “It’s all about who you know!“. I was told this three separate times at my dental cleaning in early October alone. Reluctantly, I admit that they’re right. But what people don’t tell you is that you, and you alone, control who you know. So if your current network isn’t generating promising leads, get out there and meet new people!]

Shortly after I got back home from my networking trip to DC (like I said, relentless fervor!), I had a phone interview with the PDO team lead and another senior member of the team. It was on a Friday morning, it lasted 27 minutes, and I had no idea if they liked me or not. After a weekend of trying to convince myself I didn’t blow it while simultaneously preparing for another networking meeting with a public health lawyer at the CDC the following Monday (RELENTLESS FERVOR), I received an email on Monday morning that basically said “Congratulations on being selected as an ORISE fellow! Here’s 800 pieces of paperwork we need to start working on to get your hiring approved and processed.”

I was FLOORED. But I was also cautious. In all of my networking meetings, I had learned that opportunities with the federal government can fall apart just as easily as they come together. So I tried my best not to say anything until everything was finalized (although my mom leaked it to my 94-year-old grandmother who then posted about it on my Facebook wall… ), which happened the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. So while I was stuffing my face with turkey and potatoes and pie, I was also incredibly grateful that after a long, frustrating search, I had FINALLY landed a fantastic position where I will get hands on experience learning how public health policy is set at the federal level.

I’ve now been at work for a little over a week and I’m still really excited, even though all I’ve gotten to do so far is paperwork and background reading. I hadn’t really considered working in drug abuse policy, but I’m finding the material stimulating and intriguing. Prescription drug misuse and abuse is a huge public health problem across the country right now and different states are trying different things to counter it. My job, then, in a nutshell, will be to help figure out which interventions and controls are working (and why) and which aren’t (and why). It should be a fun challenge and I know I’m going to learn a lot!

The one caveat, though, is that as a guest researcher at the CDC, my understanding is that I need to be careful what I choose to blog about here. In terms of “reporting” on the fundraising and awareness events that I try to take part in on a regular basis, I think I’m fine to keep blogging away. Likewise, fundraising for private organizations like American Cancer Society and Komen for the Cure. However, there are obviously confidentiality issues relating to the work I’ll be doing at the CDC, so beyond what I’ve shared in this post, I probably won’t write much about that specifically. Additionally, I need to be careful that any health and science posts (like my “cancer awareness month” series) are not misconstrued as approved by or representing any kind of official position by the CDC, ORISE, ORAU, or the Departments of Energy and Health and Human Services. A simple disclaimer should do the trick, but I’ll probably err on the side of caution for a while just to be safe.

Finally, I strongly suspect (although I haven’t seen it confirmed anywhere yet) that I am not supposed to do any public advocating or politicizing on issues pertaining to government-funded research, including the current state of said funding and the potentially detrimental effects of sequestration on it. It is something of a conflict of interest to be advocating for protecting/increasing CDC funding when said funding levels have huge implications for the future of my fellowship and whether or not I get hired on as a permanent CDC employee. So PLEASE. Since this is the only thing I’ll be writing publicly about sequestration from this point on, do me a favor and look it up. Look up the effects that an 8% across the board cut in funding will have on NIH, NSF, FDA, AHRQ, and yes, CDC. If you do nothing else, read through this report from Research!America. Read the info that AAAS (especially this report), CIBR, and the Society for Neuroscience have compiled on the issue (note, those links will take you to their sequestration pages). This letter by the Coalition for Health Funding is also worth a read, as is this ACS CAN blog post on sequestration and breast cancer research. Read the Cures Not Cuts! website. And CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES. The US government funds the vast majority of biomedical research in this country, research that will find the cures for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, and yes, someday, cancer. These potential cuts to research investments will have ramifications for decades. We’re falling behind already. We cannot afford any more budget cuts to our science and research budgets and everyone needs to make sure their representatives know it. This PDF from Research!America includes sample letters, tweets, and Facebook posts that you can use as inspiration. Do it for me. Call it a “Congratulations on the new job!” present.

So that’s my biggest news. But I do, actually, have other news as well, this time on the volunteering front. The day before I found out that my fellowship was approved and I had a start date in place, I was asked to be on not one, but TWO important committees at the Atlanta affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, with whom I’ve been volunteering at health fairs and fundraising events since late last winter.

First, I will be serving as the Safety Chair for the Atlanta Race for the Cure which will take place at Atlantic Station in May (registration is now open!). That means that I’m responsible for lining up the medical and ambulance support for the race as well as making sure everyone is where they should be and everything runs smoothly on race day. As I’ve gotten more involved with the local running community here in Atlanta and I’m pretty comfortable with the medical community here as well, it’s kind of a perfect fit! Organizing, race planning, and health care – it’s a perfect fit! I thought I had my first planning meeting for Race for the Cure committee tonight (we meet on the first Monday of each month), but it turns out that doesn’t start until next month. As best as I can, I’ll try to post updates and you can be sure that come spring, I’ll be recruiting as many people as possible to take part in the race!

Second, I will also be serving as a member of the Community Grants Review Board, something I’ve been wanting to do for years. For those who don’t know, 75% of the money that the Komen affiliates raise throughout the year (including through the Race for the Cure) stays with the affiliates and is redistributed throughout the local communities in the form of community support grants. The majority of these grants go to fund breast cancer initiatives and patient support work at local healthcare providers, community support centers (like YMCAs) and cancer support organizations. I’m thrilled that I now have the opportunity to help direct how Komen Atlanta chooses to use their funds. I have grant review training on Thursday and will have until early January to review my assigned grants. Then in late-ish January, I will get together with the rest of the reviewers to decide on which grants to fund for 2013-2014. I’m really looking forward to experiencing this aspect of Komen’s work from the inside and as best I can, I’ll try to keep everyone posted. However, to avoid conflicts of interest and all of that, I will need to keep the specifics of much of this work private as well.

So that’s how the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 are shaping up for me. After my defense last December, I thought my whole life would just start moving forward immediately. I fully expected to have a new job in place well before I graduated in May. I never anticipated that I would be unemployed for as long as I was. Moreover, I had no idea how restricted I would be financially because of my lack of a job, which, in turn, restricted the charitable work I was able to do. In short, throughout most of 2012, I felt stuck in the mud when I all I wanted was to be finally moving forward. Well, after almost a full year of fighting to get unstuck, I can proudly say: I AM UNSTUCK. I have a new job that I’m really fired up about where I’m going to learn a lot about public health policy, law, and hopefully communications from inside the federal government. I have two great volunteering gigs where I’m going to have a real influence on how a large breast cancer not-for-profit does their work. I honestly haven’t been this excited for the coming year in such a long time. It’s such a great feeling to finally be on my way!

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.