Monday, April 29, 2013

Making the Best of the Worst (Happy Birthday, Son!)

I confess. I have a sailor's vocabulary. But I do a pretty good of keeping it in check around the red heads.  So when my seven year old tattles on the five year old, "He said a bad word! A really bad word! The S word!" I always have to ask for clarification.

To my kids, the S word is "stupid" and it's a major infarction. I can't even get away with, "That was stupid" after burning toast or spilling milk.

My son just turned six, and he's the best kind of handful. Funny, smart, and very much his own person.

Even though he won't let me get away with the S word, he definitely inherited the sailor tendencies:

"What's the password?"
"Harry Potter?" No.
"Sparkle Rainbows?" Nuh-uh.
"Glitter pom poms?" Nope!
He grins, "I'll give you a hint. It starts with a 'd'."
I know better than to respond. He cheers, "DIARRHEA!"

See that devilish smile? He gets that from his dad. The potty mouth comes from me, though.

Sometime early in kindergarten, a kid said to my son, "You're the worst!" In fact, he is not the worst. He's a pretty awesome kid. Thankfully, my kiddo recovered from the insult. Unfortunately, "The Worst!" became one of my son's favorite "swear words".

We hear it all the time, now.

Clean your room. "Mom, You're the worst!"
Eat your rice. "Aw, this rice is the worst!"
You need to pick a new swimsuit. "That bathing suit is the worst!"

Which is funny, since I'm pretty sure this bathing suit is The Worst:

Happy Birthday, Son! May you always make the best of your worsts!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fighting Fire with Fire

There was a time when I would have said you can't cure cancer.

Let that sink in for a minute.

A time before I became a Momcologist. When I was just a veterinarian. And before that, just a scientist. I was well-versed in the cautiously optimistic, third person lingo of modern medical research.

We always showed restraint. Even when trying to get funds designated for medical advancement.

If you want to get into graduate school, don't write, "I want to cure cancer" in your personal statement.

If you want to get into medical school, don't say, "I want to help people" during your interview.

Cynical? Maybe. But that's how it is.

With that in mind, watch this video. (It's okay, I'll still be here when you come back)

In the opening scene, the interviewer asks, "Is it hard for you to say you are trying to cure cancer?"

Why is it so hard for us to admit we want a cure? To hope for a cure? To plan for a cure?

If my daughter had been diagnosed with leukemia 40 or 50 years ago, she would have been given a 4% chance of surviving. Our doctors would have told us to prepare ourselves, take a trip, enjoy these moments.

Today, kids with ALL have about a 90% survival rate. The survival rate for pediatric AML, my daughter's leukemia", is only about 50%, but that is much better than it was 50 years ago. We are curing cancer. And there is every reason to believe that progress can and will continue.

In a few weeks I will sign up for the Team in Training winter season. I will train for Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge. Why? Because if I can run a half marathon on Saturday, and a Full the following day, why can't we find a cure for cancer.

I will set my fundraising goal high. Greater than $10,000 this year. Maybe $20,000? $30,000? Why stop there?

There was a time when I was 25 pounds overweight and had a dream of running a marathon. But I wouldn't admit it to anyone. Why? Maybe the same reason physicians and scientists don't want to admit they are hoping to end cancer. What would their friends say?
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has slogan "Someday is Today." They believe they are curing blood cancers. They aren't afraid to say it. And their conviction and enthusiasm is contagious.

We will end cancer. Want to join me?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Destination: Marathon

Have you ever combined a race with a vacation? I want to hear about it. Was it fun? Life-changing? Stressful? Where did you go? Did you take your kids? Go with friends? Would you do it again?

My first marathon was the 2013 Disney Full.

The Disney Marathon Weekend was wonderful. The race well-organized with loads and loads of cheering fans. In 2014, I will return to Disney to complete Goofy's Race and a Half. On a hopefully cool Saturday, I will run the Disney Half and on Sunday (yep, the very next day) I will hobble the Disney Full. And, as last year, I will do this through Team in Training, raising money for blood cancer research and patient support.

As a Superoo for, I write reviews of family vacations. Since I combined a family vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth with the most grueling endurance event of my life, it seemed logical to review the RunDisney series. In fact, I've been "working on" this RunDisney review for a while. I started writing it 3 months ago. Hmm. Looks like I have a case of writer's block.

So it occurred to me. How many of you have gone on vacation to run? Tell me about it in the comments section, and help unblock this struggling writer!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Devil in the Details

I don't consume news. I listen to NPR, but refuse to watch local or nightly news. I rarely visit internet news sites like CNN and when I do, it is only if I am looking for a particular story.

Surprisingly, though, I find myself on tonight.

What is the name of the eight year old boy? Was he waiting to see a parent cross the finish line?

Who were the bombers? Are they in custody?

Why a marathon? Why the finish line? Of course we can answer these two questions as easily as we  ask them. Whoever the deranged loser(s) behind these murders, obviously they were looking for attention. The world's most famous race. Thousands of innocent people. A crowded location. The loser(s) have already received the notoriety they were hoping for and their name(s) haven't yet been mentioned.

But mostly, there is one detail I am eager to know. How did it feel to be at mile 26.1, the finish line in sight, exhausted, ready to collapse. And then have to start a new race?

I've been at the finish line of a large, well-organized race. Sweat dripping, my legs transforming from rubber to stone. My mind was chaos, disoriented. I could barely make it to claim my checked bag. I couldn't find the tent where I was supposed to check in even though it was large and purple and swarming with runners and volunteers wearing the same shirt I had on.

If an explosion had occurred, even an innocent, accidental one, I can only imagine how confused I would have been.

So how did runners -- exhausted, dehydrated, hobbling, many probably already dealing with injuries -- how did they sprint forward and start offering help? How did they have strength to deal with wounds they incurred when they were already debilitated? How did some continue on to donate blood? How did they move, even if just away from the sound of the explosions?

I am convinced I would have stood paralyzed. Not by fear, but by confusion.

Then there is a another question that will probably also go unanswered. The timing?

4:09. Was it an accident? 4:09 is impressive by most standards, but certainly not the fastest of Boston's elite. 4:09 in Boston would be older qualifiers, perhaps injured qualifiers, and charity runners. Were they going for a larger crowd of finishers as runners ended and hung out to cheer for others? I don't know  if I would feel any different if the explosion had been at 2:10:22, when the winner was crossing, but somehow this later timing seems even more tragic.

And then, lastly, when you get past the runners and think about the finish line of any race, even a 5K. There are 4 important groups of people: the runners, the spectators, the volunteers, and the police and paramedics.

When I think about the spectators, I'm crushed. I'm not the only one in my family who has been at the end of a big race. My children. My husband. My mom. My niece and nephews. My brother, brother-in-law, and sisters-in-law. Smiling, hugging, taking pictures. Celebrating with signs, "Go Team!" "You've got this." " I beat cancer, you can do this marathon."

Spectators are the unsung heroes of any race. They cheer just as loud for the pokies like myself as they do for the winners. I'm tempted to call spectators innocent bystanders, which is absurd since everyone in that crowd yesterday was "innocent". But the spectators are not simply there for entertainment. It's a marathon, it's not that exciting. They are there to lend support. They make the race possible, along with the volunteers and support staff.

I ran a Half on Sunday. During the race, I felt so lucky to be part of the running community. Where else can a middle age woman get cheers for a Sunday morning jog? A beautiful woman with an afro stood at the top of a vicious hill. "You got this hill, girl! Keep it up! You look great." My form picked up. I smiled. I pushed on. The kindness of strangers is so very real in a marathon. And those kind strangers deserved better than this.

The spectators at the finish. I want to know their stories. I want to consume this news. Why were they there? Were they pulling for a parent who spent the year training just to get here? Were they pulling for a charity runner who they helped raise thousands for cancer research? Were they locals, there to cheer for some of the world's most impressive runners? Were they thinking, "Maybe next year I'll train for one of these!"

Usually I find no value in obsessing over these tragedies. I turn off the news. The media will never answer the most important question of all: Why? I refuse to discuss, speculate. I refuse to sensationalize the loser(s) who perpetrated the crime.

But in the wee hours of the night, I find myself thinking of the runners and their families and everyone else at that finish line. It doesn't even seem real yet. And I find myself wanting to know more.

I know I won't be able to answer these questions. Not today, or anytime soon. So I'm going to accept that. I'm going to turn off the news and even facebook. I'm going to wear my favorite running shirt and I'm going to run today. I hope you'll join me. Even if you aren't a runner. Just go for a short jog to remember the victims and to celebrate the Spirit of Boston.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

This Runner Needs a Goal. Suggestions Welcome!

The time is 1:24:49 AM. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Most nights, I fall asleep then wake in the middle of the night. Tonight I have yet to sleep at all. It started with a glass of wine. Why didn't I just have a beer?

Reasonable people are sleeping right now. My dog is wondering why I've joined him on the couch.

Even the guinea pig is quiet.

There is work tomorrow. And Friday. And Saturday. 

I should be sleeping or carb loading or planning my strategy for this Sunday's Half.

But there are so many distractions. So many reasons to lie awake thinking, worrying, planning.

Work. A cluttered house. A trekaroo trip next week. Not one but two birthday parties to plan in the next month. A triathlon in 6 weeks.

So my back-to-back Halfs are taking a backseat to Life.

I set a PR at Tobacco Road several weeks ago. That was a flat, cool race. This Half, on the other hand, is hilly and will be a tad warmer. Plus, it will be my second race in less than a month. Odds for a new PR are not in my favor. So while I've continued to train I've lacked focus. Clearly I need a goal for this race. Any suggestions?