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Running For More…

The personal blog and website of Kristen Cincotta

Posts Tagged ‘Website Update’

I’m Back!

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Hi everyone!

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

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

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

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

Thanks for sticking with me!

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

Running For More on National Running Day!

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Me and my best girl enjoying our morning run today!

Me and my best girl enjoying our morning run today!

Happy National Running Day!

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

As of today, my new blog name is:

Running For More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 2013 National Running Day Image

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

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!

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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!

Getting Back on Track with #NHBPM!

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

So…

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

Taking meetings on The Hill!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why I write about [my] health…

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

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

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

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

Dr. Cincotta is back in the house!

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Phew. It’s been a long time since I’ve made it over to this part of the internet!

As you probably know, the reason for my extended absence was an important one: I was finishing my PhD in Neuroscience. As noted on this blog, I really locked things down and got focused in July 2011. From then on, my days, nights and weekends were filled almost entirely with reading, writing, editing, writing, analyzing, and yet more writing. In mid-October, I locked down my defense date and things got even more intense as I was working under a non-negotiable deadline. I even skipped out on almost the entire Atlanta 3 Day, which was a heart-wrenching sacrifice to make. I have never worked harder on any one thing in my life than I worked on my dissertation during that time. It was stressful and ugly, but I got through it and thankfully, my husband didn’t disown me in the process. On November 15th, at around 2am, I was finally able to tweet the words I’ve been wanting to tweet since before Twitter was a thing:

Guys. I just finished my dissertation. Whoa.

When I wrote that, I had just sent out my finished dissertation to my thesis committee members. They had two weeks to review it, and on November 28th, I received five provisional approvals of my dissertation. A whirlwind of intense nerves and preparation then followed and on December 15th, I stood up in front of my friends, family, colleagues, and thesis committee and successfully defended nine and a half years of graduate school work. The whole process was a whirlwind and it took a while before it actually felt real. Truthfully, it still doesn’t feel real, even this many weeks later.

I took a brief writing hiatus to cheer on Team Twitter ATL at the 3 Day back in October

I knew that when I finished my dissertation and my defense, it would take me a little while to “recover”. It was a prolonged period of intense stress and it definitely took both a mental and physical toll on me. I thought that after two weeks of down time, I would pop back up, ready to jump into my old life again. That definitely hasn’t been the case. Over the weeks since my defense, I’ve been making a concerted to listen to what my mind and body needs and to just take it easy. I have been trying to restore my running and exercise routines (including racing for the first time since July on New Year’s Day!) and I’ve been taking care of some lingering health issues that cropped up while I was writing as well. I celebrated my success with friends and traveled to DC in mid-January for a dear friend’s baby shower. I even took a 10 day long trip with my mom that started with a day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and involved a week long cruise around the western Bahamas. It was low key, relaxing and just what I needed. In short, I’ve been decompressing. It turns out, I desperately needed it, much more so than I initially thought.

At the Atlanta Track Club Resolution Run on New Years Day with Julie (left) and celebrating with some Atlanta “ex-pats” up in DC (right)

2011 was one of the hardest years of my life. In order to finally accomplish a serious career goal that has been hanging over my head for almost a decade, I had to shut down just about everything else in my life that brought me joy, happiness and fulfillment. As I was toiling over my computer and my stacks of papers last fall, I made a very important promise to myself: in 2012 and beyond, I am following my heart. It’s time to rebuild my life. It’s time to rebuild my friendships that have been languishing. It’s time to do myself a solid and focus on my health and fitness. It’s time to rediscover all of the things that I love about living in Atlanta. It’s time to restart old hobbies (like blogging!), pursue new interests and have fun. And most importantly at this juncture, it’s time to find work and a career that is fulfilling, challenging and meaningful to me. I fell out of love with lab research a very long time ago and without passion for that work, it became tortuous to put in the long hours that being a successful scientist requires. I’m ready for new challenges and I’m ready to fall in love with my work again.

Floating in a tube down the White River in Jamaica (left) and Mom hanging with the dolphins in Cozumel, Mexico (right)

Now that I’m feeling more like my old self again, I am starting to look at the big picture and make some decisions. Because my defense was so late in the fall, I missed the deadline for processing the paperwork for a Fall 2011 graduation. As such, I am technically still enrolled at Emory University through the end of the Spring 2012 semester, at which time my degree will be conferred. While I would have loved to have left all of that behind in 2011, this gives me some time to wrap up some loose ends around my lab. I am still revising my final manuscript, which will hopefully be published next summer. I am also jumping into my job search with both feet. I am pursuing job opportunities in the Atlanta area that will allow me to work at the intersection of science, communications, and advocacy. I am also looking to strengthen my background in public health and political advocacy through volunteer work and training with a number of biomedical health not-for-profit agencies. While I am going to be somewhat cautious in what I publicize about this process (especially on the job search front), I am anticipating sharing some my volunteer and training experiences with all of you in case you are likewise interested in pursuing more formal involvement in the not-for-profit area beyond the Race for the Cure/Relay for Life type activities. It’s going to be a little slow as I feel out the direction that I want this blog to move in (while respecting my hopefully future employers right to privacy), but rest assured, I have no plans of closing it down any time soon.

Relaxing on the boat with margaritas!

Finally, I would be remiss if I closed this “I’m back!” entry without acknowledging the recent events surrounding Susan G. Komen for the Cure. When all of the news was breaking about SGK, I was blissfully reading books by the pool on a boat in the Caribbean, floating down a river in Jamaica, snorkeling in Grand Cayman, and swimming with dolphins in Mexico. As such, I missed the outpouring of news, misinformation and immediate emotional reactions, which I’m seeing as a fortunate happenstance. I have been collecting and reading a wide array of news articles, blog posts, and interviews on the events of the last week or so and have been able to take it in with an open mind, untainted by the interpretations and reactions of my friends and family. I was even lucky enough to be able to meet with some representatives of the Komen Atlanta affiliate in person, as we had a pre-arranged meeting set up before I left to discuss volunteer opportunities. In order to make sure that my ultimate actions are reflective of my personal feelings (and not just a reaction to what others are doing/saying), I have purposefully stayed away from Facebook and Twitter this past week while I work through the material I gathered. I am still processing all of this information and will have a post up sometime over the weekend summarizing my thoughts and how these events will color my involvement in SGK in the future. I have found the entire debate to be fascinating and it has resulted in some serious soul searching on my part. Rest assured that any decision that I make moving forward will be well considered and well informed.

So that just about sums up the last eight months in the world of Dr. Kristen Walks. With my new degree in hand, and finally free of (most of) the shackles of graduate school, I’m stepping out onto a new path. It’s scary, but exciting to be putting my money where my mouth is and to be finally be chasing some dreams that I’ve had for a long time!

Hanging out in Ocho Rios, Jamaica

It’s Dissertation Crunch Time. And It’s Not Pink.

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Greetings, friends!

I know it’s been a very long time since I’ve blogged. However, that thing that I wrote about early last winter? Well, it’s still going on. I am STILL working on my doctoral dissertation.

Still.

*SIGH*

Back then, I thought I was into writing “crunch time”. I really did. But man, I had NO idea what I was talking about. I have spent the last however many months analyzing new-ish data, reanalyzing old data in light of the new data, writing my final manuscript, reading, planning, writing dissertation chapter outlines, collecting references, rewriting my final manuscript, making figures, writing dissertation chapter after dissertation chapter, rewriting my manuscript AGAIN… It really just doesn’t end. I have a goal defense date penciled in on my calendar. (No, I will not tell you when it is until it’s final, I don’t want to jinx it.) I have to finish and submit my dissertation four weeks before my defense. And somehow, before I defend and am done with graduate school forever, I also need to find a job. Which requires a resume. D’oh.

So what I’m saying is, this period I’m in right now? This is for really real CRUNCH TIME. I have deadlines backed up onto deadlines. I have 37 hours worth of things on my to do list every. single. day. As much as I pride myself on my ability to multi-task and try not to become too singularly focused on any one thing at a time, right now, I just need to focus. And that means putting the pink “Do Not Disturb” post-it note back up on my blog. I need to get this done and I need every minute of my own time for myself in order to get it done on time.

As for my current activities with the Komen 3 Day for the Cure community, well, they’re in limbo. Here’s the rundown:

1, I will not be formally taking part in any of the 3 Day events this year. I was hoping to be able to throw a hail mary pass late this summer and possibly be able to walk here in Atlanta with Team Twitter Atlanta this October. But there just won’t be time to do any fundraising or training (even just for fun with my local Tweeps!) before my defense. I can barely keep up with my life and my writing without trying to prepare for a 3 Day event. It is just going to be impossible this year. Next year, though, I will be back with a pink vengeance!

2, I WILL be out walker stalking the Atlanta 3 Day in my hot pink wig and cheering on all of my friends, you can count on that!

3, I will only be able to make minimal updates to the #3DayTweeps website in the coming weeks. I am hoping that my fellow moderators over there can have my back a little and keep things going smoothly in my relative absence. But for now, if you need something from that site, please, please be patient! We do everything (including adding new Tweeps!) by hand and it is a time consuming process. I’m not complaining, but I am asking for patience. To my fellow tweeps, feel free to update that blog on the front page whenever you want! The #3DayTweeps community that we try to foster through the site is what we all make it. If I need to duck out for a few weeks, I have full faith that you all will keep it going in my absence.

4, 3 Day Mug will only be going to a handful of events this year. She blogged about her plans earlier tonight, which you can read about here. Eventually, all of the Mug pictures from last year (as well as my pictures from the 2010 Boston 3 Day!) will make their way online. But not anytime soon, alas.

5, If I find myself with a few minutes here and there, I may tweak this site a bit. This is still a really new website for me and I have a long list of changes and upgrades I still want to make. I also have at least three blog post ideas per day that I am itching to write, but there just isn’t enough to research and write everything I would like. Or anything I would like, truthfully. Like I said: CRUNCH TIME. If I’m writing anything these days, it has to be related to my manuscript and/or my dissertation.

6, Finally, I will probably be making myself pretty scarce on my various social networks for the next few weeks. I’ll be following the various 3 Day events on Twitter as best as I can, but during the week, I’m probably not going to be tweeting much. I’m almost definitely not going to be able to get into the long sprawling conversations with my #3DayTweeps and other friends that I enjoy so much. I’m also going to be something of a ghost on Facebook. I find Facebook particularly frustrating if I can’t read “everything”, so it’s just better for me not to try. If there’s something critical posted there that you think I really need to see, send me a message and I’ll check it out. Otherwise, I won’t be there much.

Oh, and I have a Google+ account now, but I haven’t really played with at all yet. I cannot wait to get my hands on that sucker though, it looks great!

So I think that covers all of my bases. I’ve been feeling pretty stressed this week just thinking about how I can possibly fit in everything that I would like to do and still finish my dissertation on time. And the truth of it is that I can’t. So I’m going to become a dissertation hermit and bang this sucker out once and for all. Oh, and rewrite that manuscript one last time. And get a job.

*Sigh*

Thanks for understanding, friends. You’re all invited to the party when I’m finally done!

 

Weary but determined,

Kristen

Credit to PhD comics, as always.

Welcome to my new website!

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome to my new home on the interwebz!

While I have enjoyed blogging over at the old Kristen Walks Blogger site, I was starting to feel like the format over there was a bit limited for what I am hoping to achieve through my blog. When I first set up my Kristen Walks blog, I was solely focused on keeping my supporters up to date on my efforts through the Breast Cancer 3 Day and some of my other advocacy activities. As I got into it, I found that I really enjoyed interacting with other charity walkers and runners. I love hearing about their ideas and efforts, encouraging each other to take on bigger and better goals and sharing in the enthusiasm when we reach those goals. Being able to use my blog to jump start new discussions with other advocates like myself has been wonderful. But now, I’m ready to take it to the next level.

As I explain on the Welcome page of this new site, I believe very strongly that the most effective advocates for more biomedical research funding are educated advocates. As a scientist myself, I am in the unique position to help my fellow advocates better understand exactly what we mean when we say that we’re raising money for breast cancer research. I have also found that my own fundraising efforts are more successful when I’m able to sit down and explain why research is so important, some of the recent advances that we’ve made, what work still lies ahead and most importantly, why it costs so much money. So to me, the next logical step is to use the platform that I’ve already established through Kristen Walks to begin talking more about what we’re raising all this money for instead of just the best way to go about raising that money. The more that I considered how to bring this new aspect to Kristen Walks, I realized that rather than a simple redesign, what I needed was a whole new site where I can share all of the aspects of my advocacy work rather than just my efforts through the 3 Day.

This new website, then, is my attempt to both formalize and broaden what I write about. The homepage URL is now very easy to remember: www.kristencincotta.com. From there, you will find links to both the new Kristen Walks blog and the newly upgraded Kristen Runs section, as well as links to my photo albums from all of my advocacy related activities and events. If you would like to skip directly to the blog, you can do that by going to www.KristenWalks.com.

Rest assured, just about all of the old blog content and comments are here. If there was an old post on the Blogger site that you loved, it is now here as well. I am still tweaking some details around this new site, so don’t be surprised if you happen to notice a few upgrades here and there over the coming weeks. If you see any major bugs, please be sure to let me know.

Thank you everyone with putting up with the lengthy gaps in blogging over the last few months. As I wrap up my dissertation writing and attempt to move into making my advocacy work more of a full time career, I hope those gaps become less and less frequent.

Now, on to the good stuff!

Kristen

An Update!

Friday, February 25th, 2011

I’m back!

Sort of.

Earlier this week, I was thrilled to learn that I will again have the honor of serving as an Online Ambassador for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure. At the time that I applied, I thought that being named an ambassador again was something of a long shot. While I have remained in touch with much of the online 3 Day community, I haven’t been blogging and I’m not yet signed up for any events in 2011, for a number of reasons. But I love being something of a leader in the 3 Day community, especially when the newbies start to poke their heads out and ask for some help or encouragement. So I applied again and was pleased to receive the email on Monday confirming that I would again get to use this pretty pink badge and title for the coming year. 

HOWEVER.

That silly dissertation of mine that led to me sticking a “Do Not Disturb” sign up on my blog still isn’t done. Writing a dissertation is hard, yo. So I have been weighing all week how I wanted to proceed, with the goal being to find a healthy balance between what I want to be doing (that is, all things 3 Day and cancer advocacy-related) and what I really, really need to be doing (writing my dissertation). I have had a stronger and stronger urge to dust off the blog and get started with 3 Day activities again over the past few weeks. I have organized a few unofficial training walks here in Atlanta for visiting walkers (which you can see a few photos from here and here) and met up with my fellow 3 Day Tweeps a handful of times over the past couple months. I’ve stumbled across a few great articles online that have triggered the “I have to blog about this!” response more and more regularly. And so far, I’ve been able to resist. But with the new excitement bubbling in the 3 Day community from the announcement of the new ambassadors to increasing numbers of Getting Started meetings and the start of Training Kick Off events, it is getting to be a bit too hard to stay away for much longer.

So I guess that means that, at least for now, Kristen Walks is back online, in a somewhat limited capacity (that dissertation isn’t going to finish and defend itself, after all). For now, I am only planning on bringing back what ended up being on of the most popular features of this blog: the weekly round up of what’s going on across the 3 Day blogosphere. I got to know a ton of great people by reading their blogs last year and I have had a number of people comment about what an excellent resource that was for them for discovering new blogs, making connections and strengthening our little community. So, it’s coming back, starting tomorrow. Each Saturday, I will do my best to post links to the latest and greatest posts about all things 3 Day and cancer advocacy that I’ve found over the past week. 

I can’t promise it will be up every week. It takes a bit of time to read all of the great blogs out there and some weeks, dissertation writing and school work will have to take precedence. But I will do my best. I’m really looking forward to getting my blogging legs back under me a bit and getting to know some of the newbies (both newbies to the 3 Day AND newbies to blogging!) over the coming weeks and months. I hope that you all enjoy it too.

See you tomorrow morning (or later tonight, as it turns out!), with a fresh batch of links!

Kristen

Search Amazon.com for anything and everything about blogging!

Blogging Hiatus, Explained

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Hello everyone!

First of all, I wanted to extend my apologies for my extended blogging absence.  I didn’t intend to disappear for so long without an explanation.  For those of you who don’t know, in addition to my work raising money for breast cancer research and training for the  Breast Cancer 3 Day for the Cure, I am also a graduate student working towards my PhD in Neuroscience.  In fact, I have been a graduate student working on my PhD for far too long, for a variety of reasons.  Ultimately, it has been my efforts towards changing that status and completing my degree once and for all that has kept me away from this blog for the last few weeks.  Following a very stressful but successful meeting with my thesis committee members and my advisors, I was finally given permission to wrap up my research and focus on writing both my doctoral dissertation and a final research paper to be published in the near-ish future.

Being able to move into this final phase of my graduate career has been a huge reward for me after years of toil and frustration in the lab.  However, just because I have cleared this major hurdle, there is still a lot of work to be done. I am hoping to defend my thesis before the end of March and I have a ton of work to complete before then if that is to happen. As such, while my commitment to the Breast Cancer 3 Day and to raising money and awareness for this important cause remains high, I will be stepping away from writing here at Kristen Walks for the forseeable future. 

I am confident that this is not the last that you will hear of my voice here on the pages of the Internets. I am still going to keep up with my friends and family via Facebook and email and I will continue to use Twitter probably more than I should.  I will also be helping Mug write about her experiences during the 3 Day season over on her blog at www.3DayMug.com. But given the level of quality I try to bring to the things that I share here on this blog, I wouldn’t feel right trying to actively write and post here without being able to put a significant amount of time and effort into it.

Fingers crossed that my writing goes smoothly and that words and brilliant thoughts flow from my fingers to my screen easily over the coming weeks and months. I can’t wait to come back here and finally tell all of you about my experience walking the 3 Day in Boston with my Relentless Optimism teammates way back in July, training with and getting to know the 3 Day Tweeps here in Atlanta and Walker Stalking the Atlanta event in late October.  Moreover, my experiences over the years with the Breast Cancer 3 Day have shown me that biomedical research advocacy is a true passion of mine and I cannot wait to start  pursuing a career in that area as soon as possible.  But before all of that can begin, completing my dissertation once and for all has to be my primary focus.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes!

Kristen

Search Amazon.com for dissertation writing advice

So Busy…

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Hello everyone!

I just wanted to pop on to briefly let everyone know that I will be back with my overdue weekly update and a “Monday Motivation” either tonight or tomorrow.  Training last week was really intense and hasn’t slowed down this week either.  I’ve also been on overdrive at school and in the scant free time that I’ve had, I’ve been trying to tack down a few last details for our team before the 3 Day later this month.

Rest assured, though, that blogging will be back soon.  The Peachtree Road Race is this Sunday, and after that, my schedule will definitely free up a bit.  For now, though, it is back to the work grind.

Thanks for understanding!
Kristen