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Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Last night I ditched my responsibilities at home to enjoy a rare night out by myself, on a weeknight no less! I got to attend a special event: the local movie premiere of Boston: An American Running Story!

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The film opened to rave reviews from runners everywhere, and I happily add my favorable review to the pile. The movie offers everything you would want from a film about the iconic Boston Marathon — facts about the history of the race, old film footage of the race and past interviews with the winners, and current interviews with those most intimately involved in the race. It sounds terribly cliché but I laughed, I cried, and I felt inspired.

I highly recommend the movie for runners everywhere — those who want to run Boston, those who have run Boston, and those who just want to enjoy a great film about the history of running. I think the people of Boston would love the film too; it’s a real tribute to all the people involved in putting on the race and all the supporters who come out to line the race course each year. I ran the race in 2016 and that’s what I remember most — the unparalleled support I felt from the crowd from the starting line to the finish.

This film highlights the 2014 race, a triumphant return of the event after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. It certainly was difficult to watch the footage of the bombings, but the film treated it in just the right way — not giving any attention to the perpetrators but rather focusing on the victims and the heroes of the day.

This is a film I know I’ll want to watch over and over again, adding it to Spirit of the Marathon as one of the films I will watch for inspiration before I run another marathon.

Did you see the film, or will you watch it when it becomes available near you?

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My eyes are welling with tears as I write this post. You see, today marks five years to the day since I started running and tracking my progress on MapMyRun. You can see my first entry here:

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Does a three-mile-per-hour pace count as a run? You bet it does when you’re pushing a 2.5-year-old in a jogging stroller over 180 feet in elevation gain for your first run in five years! I’m just as proud of that first mile in 20:23 as the mile I raced in 6:34 a few years later! I had made a decision that I wanted to be “fit at 40” after having the last of my three children. I was on the higher end of a healthy weight and I felt I could stand to lose about 10 pounds. So I got out there for nine runs that first March and logged a total of 24.9 miles.

I quickly got hooked on running and the sense of accomplishment that comes with every workout. My confidence grew over the summer and I added biking and swimming into the mix. Eight months after that first run, I took on my first sprint triathlon at SheROX San Diego in November 2011. And heck, that went so well, I took on an Olympic distance triathlon at HITS Palm Springs the next month! Fast forward through my first half marathon at the OC Half Marathon in May 2012 to my first full marathon at the Santa Barbara International Marathon in November 2012. Somehow in just 18 months I’d gone from 1.67 miles at a 20:23 pace to 26.2 miles at a 9:16 pace (4:02:39.5 for those trying to do the math). And that was at age 41 no less. Proof that you’re never too old to start running or challenging yourself with big goals. Five marathons later if you ask me which is my favorite marathon, I’ll say Santa Barbara, not because it was the easiest course (it wasn’t — my goodness I still remember that hill at mile 23) but because I ran that whole race with such joy and appreciation for what my body could do.

The next several races I chased a Boston Qualifying time, a sub-3:45 for Women 40-44.

Mountains2Beach Marathon, May 2013, age 41, 3:58:29 (race recap)

Long Beach Marathon, October 2013 age 42, 3:52:42 (race recap)

and finally my first BQ at Santa Rosa, August 2014, age 42, 3:44:26 (race recap). Then came the crushing news that a BQ minus 34 seconds was actually not fast enough to meet the registration cutoff for Boston 2015. So I set my sights on the Phoenix Marathon in February 2015 and came in at my current PR time of 3:36:58 (race recap), a BQ minus 8:02 at age 43 for Boston 2016. I tried to top that time at REVEL Canyon City in November 2015 and came in a little slower at 3:39:08 at age 44 on what I now consider a difficult downhill course (race recap). Fortunately there’s a benefit to the Boston Marathon qualifying math, and at age 44 I had bumped up to the 45-49 age group for Boston 2017 with a 3:55 qualifying standard, so that time was a BQ minus 15:52.

Now with just six weeks to go until my first Boston Marathon race on April 18, 2016, I’m savoring the opportunity to race on such hallowed ground. I’m training hard so that I have a good race, but I’m in this one for the experience, not the time on the clock. So I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on about this historic race. On my bookshelf right now:

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I’m loving Marathon Woman by Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run Boston with an official bib and a major player in the push to get the women’s marathon into the Olympics in 1984. (Such a #runnerd, I’m tearing up again thinking about it!) Let’s all just take a moment, man or woman, to thank those before us who have helped advance the sport of running. And of course, one of those people is Boston Marathon director Dave McGillivray, author of The Last Pick. I’ve listened to him speak on a few podcasts and found his stories to be very inspiring, so I can hardly wait to read his book.

The next two on the list are The Boston Marathon: A Century of Blood, Sweat, and Cheers and 26.2 Miles to Boston: A Journey Into The Heart Of The Boston Marathon.

Any other books you suggest as recommended reading about the Boston Marathon? Have you run the race before? Tell me about it! And feel free to link to any blog posts or race recaps of yours or anyone else’s that you think we all might enjoy reading.

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I find it a little funny that my first long run of ’16 was 16 miles! I didn’t plan it that way; in fact I thought I was supposed to run 14 and I was dismayed to see that 16 when I double-checked my Boston training schedule. It’s week five of training, 15 weeks to go. The run went well. I took it easy at a 10:00 pace and listened to podcasts by Another Mother Runner and Runners Connect. I just finished listening to a great audiobook for runners: My Year of Running Dangerously: A Dad, a Daughter, and a Ridiculous Plan. CNN correspondent Tom Foreman narrates his own book and makes it entertaining and informative about coming back to running at an older age, running with your children, and dipping your feet in the ultra marathon waters. I have contemplated running my first ultra as the next big goal but it doesn’t sound like it’s for me, especially after I just burned out on a plan that called for running four to five times per week. I’ll stick to three times a week, thank you very much. I would like to get into trail running, however.

Looking Back at 2015

Here are the highlights for me for 2015 — a wide range of things that made me feel proud. I’ve put links to posts I wrote if you’d like to read more about any particular item.

  • Qualified for Boston 2016 in a PR time of 3:36:58 at the Phoenix Marathon in February
  • Used my own compost to grow a great summer harvest of tomatoes, basil, and hot peppers
  • Helped create a team of 53 members for the iCureMelanoma 5K to raise $5,418 for melanoma research
  • Volunteered each week at my girls’ school, working both in the classrooms and in the school library
  • Crossed off a bucket list item when my girls and I volunteered at the Girls on the Go Los Angeles Half Marathon in Bonelli Park
  • Proofread a friend’s memoir of her experience growing up under the oppression of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia
  • Set a PR in the 5K of 22:19 at the Downtown Anaheim 5K in June
  • Harvested over 200 pounds of lemons with my teenager and donated them to a local food bank
  • Qualified for Boston 2017 by a 15 minute, 52 second margin at the REVEL Canyon City Marathon in November
  • Performed with my middle daughter in six shows of The Nutcracker in December
  • Reached out to ElliptiGO and overcame my nervousness about trying something new, and was handsomely rewarded with finding a new workout I absolutely love!
  • Got a job for the first time in 13 years (aside from writing/blogging), working in the school district as a substitute assistant in the special education classrooms
  • Wrote up a training plan for my husband and teenager to train for their first half marathons next June, the Fontana Days Run Half Marathon

Looking Forward to 2016

I am eager to see what 2016 has in store for me! My first day on the new job is tomorrow, working 12-3 in the special education classroom at my girls’ school! The next race on my calendar is the Boston Marathon in April — my first time running that race and my 7th marathon overall.

Boston jacket

My sweet friends insisted that I take a photo in my prized new Boston jacket that Mike gave me for Christmas!

The only other race on my calendar is the Fontana Days Run Half Marathon in June. If the budget allows (i.e., I get enough work substituting in the district and my husband gets a new job), I hope to try my first big trail race (a half marathon, a full, or maybe even a 50K in spite of what I said about ultras not being for me — the Chino Hills Trail Run Series 50K is so close by and the timing would be perfect in November).

What are you proud of from 2015? What are you looking forward to in 2016?

 

 

 

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I first saw the ElliptiGO elliptical bicycle when world champion runner Mary Decker Slaney was riding one before the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon in 2014. I was too tired and shy to go up to her at the finish line expo after the race (note to self: “Hi! It’s so nice to meet you! What do you have here?” would have done very nicely). Anyway, I had been dying to try an ElliptiGO ever since. Recently my curiosity boiled over when I listened to this Runners Connect podcast with Darren Brown, a 3-time All-American, sub-4:00 miler, and marketing manager for ElliptiGO.

So I reached out to the nice people at ElliptiGO and they hooked me up with Hermosa Cyclery in Hermosa Beach, California. Located just steps from a spectacular beachside bike path, Hermosa Cyclery offers ElliptiGOs for sale or rental.

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Gorgeous day to ride an ElliptiGO 8S along Hermosa Beach!

I rode the ElliptiGO 8S (similar to the new model 11R, which retails for $3,499) and you can rent one from Hermosa Cyclery starting at just $20 an hour. My husband Mike tried out the ElliptiGO 3C (retail price $1,999). The verdict? We absolutely loved them! I cannot remember the last time I’ve had so much fun working out.

After a one-minute demonstration of how to ride the elliptical bike, my husband and I hopped on ours and went! It took no time at all for us to master riding the ElliptiGO. Getting started is easy — just step on one pedal and you’re off!

Shifting gears is exceptionally smooth (more smooth than a road bike, which my mechanical engineer husband says is due to the internal geared hub) and braking is the same as a road bike. I had no trouble balancing; in fact the ride felt very stable.

The first day we headed south on the beach path and rode for over 45 minutes total down to the end of the path and back. I could have sworn we were only out for 30 minutes at the most. It felt like we were sightseeing from an 8-foot tall vantage point. I could easily bike and enjoy the view along the way. The funny thing is, we were the main attraction along the path! Pedestrians, runners and road cyclists all stared at us, smiled, and even cheered! I got thumbs-up and clapping as we rode.

The next morning Mike and I headed north on the path. The Strand is also known as the Martin Braude Bike Path and it runs 22 miles and connects with other bike paths. We rode from 14th Street in Hermosa Beach up to Marina del Rey. There is a small section of stairs, and I impressed the guys behind me by lifting the lightweight bike and carrying it up the stairs on my own. There are also some slight hills on this section, and we powered right up them (and enjoyed coasting down them)!

With stops for water along the way, we ended up riding for two hours at about a 10 mph pace (cruising and enjoying the sights — we could have gone significantly faster if we pushed it). The ElliptiGO offers an excellent aerobic and strength training workout. By the end of two hours, I felt it in my outer quads, glutes, and a little in my lower back. On Sunday my marathon training plan for Boston called for a 10-mile long run, and the ElliptiGO ride more than satisfied the equivalent of that run.

The ElliptiGO makes for the ideal cross-training for runners because it offers a low-impact workout that closely mimics the motion of running. Standing upright eliminates the strain on your neck and back that you might feel tucking in for a long road bicycle ride, and saves your rear end from saddle soreness! Plus you get the joy of exercising outside rather than being stuck inside the gym.

I want to thank Hermosa Cyclery for the opportunity to test the ElliptiGO bikes. I’m telling Santa I want an ElliptiGO for Christmas, and if I don’t get one, I will definitely rent one for another fabulous workout on the beach path!

(I was not compensated for my honest review of the ElliptiGO and Hermosa Cyclery.)

Have you ever ridden an ElliptiGO? Are you interested in trying one out?

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It’s the last week of taper here and I got in a nice four mile run on Monday morning — two easy and two at marathon pace. And it was a good thing I wore my new Garmin 220 to pace myself because I realized that when I originally set the data screens, I chose “average pace” (average pace for the entire four miles) instead of “average lap pace” (average pace for the mile you are currently running). For marathons I like to keep an eye on my average lap pace, and that will be particularly important for this downhill marathon, REVEL Canyon City, because I expect the pace to be faster in the first half than the second. In fact I used the pace band feature at FindMyMarathon.com to create a free pace band that is specific to the REVEL Canyon City course. Other marathons I’ve generally tried to run an even pace, but that doesn’t make sense for this course. It’s nice to see what the predicted adjustments to pace are for the hills — both up and down — for this specific marathon.

Yesterday I did an easy three-miler that nearly undid six months of marathon training when I got distracted and rolled my ankle on this sucker:

Marathon killer: the magnolia seed pod of doom, next to my Brooks Adrenaline for size comparison

Marathon killer: the magnolia seed pod of doom, next to my Brooks Adrenaline for size comparison

In the instant my left foot rolled on the pod, pain shot up my left ankle and the marathon flashed before my eyes. My run came to a screeching halt. I quickly took a tentative step and tried to walk off the injury. By some miracle it felt a million times better after a minute of walking and I was able to finish the run. Throughout the rest of the day it stiffened up and became sore, but I iced it before bed and this morning it’s almost back to normal. Every taper has its aches and pains and this one is no exception. Now I just need to do one more easy three miler (including three strides and not including magnolia seed pods of doom) on Thursday and I’ll be ready for the race on Saturday.

While I ran on Monday I listened to an inspiring Runners Connect podcast interview with Olympic medalist Deena Kastor. Usually before a marathon I watch the movie Spirit of the Marathon again to see Deena race at the Chicago Marathon, but this time it was nice to listen to her advice for getting ready for a big race. She suggested that a runner list five reasons why the upcoming race should be successful. That helps calm your nerves and gives you things to draw upon during the race if and when your confidence falters.

So, here are five reasons my sixth marathon could/should/will go well:

1. With my switch to a traditional training plan that had me running five days a week, I managed to hit my highest mileage week ever (40.5 miles) and highest mileage month ever (156.3 miles in October). Not exactly numbers to write home about but pretty darn good for a 44-year-old mother of three.

2. I had that successful and joyful practice 20-miler on the course in the San Gabriel mountains.

3. I looked back over my training log (I keep one on my paper training plan and one on MapMyRun) and reminded myself that I kept consistent with the training. I didn’t miss a single run. Several times when the plan called for cross-training or rest, I rested, but I did every prescribed run. One 16-miler I cut short at 10.6 miles because I felt dehydrated and under-fueled and it was more important to set my ego aside and call it a day than continue and risk injury just to hit that 16 mile number. Sure enough I went on to have several confidence-boosting long runs after learning from my mistakes on that one “bad” run.

4. I made sure to keep up with the strength training at least twice a week. If you asked me the one thing I would recommend to other runners to improve their marathon performance, it would be to add strength training if it’s not already a part of their regimen. As little as 20 minutes twice a week can pay off tremendously in better running form and ability to hold pace in the final miles of a race when your primary running muscles are tired.

5. I nailed down my carbohydrate loading plan and race day plan. It’s not easy to consume over 600 grams of carbohydrates a day but I’m doing my best. I didn’t mind the whole wheat pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast this morning!

So, if you want to see if my ankle cooperates for the race, if my training plays off, if the carbo-loading prevents me from hitting the wall, you can track me on race day (Saturday November 7 starting at 7 a.m. PST) through my participant tracking link. The tracking registers my time at the half marathon point, 5K to go (mile 23.1), and the finish. I expect the first half to be significantly faster than the second given the 4,000+ foot elevation drop in the first half, so don’t be surprised if it takes me a while to pop back up at the 23.1 mark. Cross your fingers for a sub-3:55 (BQ) and better yet a sub-3:36:58 (PR)!

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My family stays active through a wide variety of activities. Take Mondays for example. My marathon training plan usually calls for an easy 3-4 mile run that day. My husband and oldest daughter practice tennis together for a couple of hours in the evening. My middle daughter attends ballet class, and my youngest goes to her pre-competitive swimming lesson. I love it! But you know what I don’t love? The laundry that goes with it all. With five sets of regular clothes and five sets of workout outfits and towels, I do an average of two loads of laundry a day (much of which is technical gear that has to be hung to dry!) Often my family members end up pulling clean clothes from the laundry bins before we even get a chance to sort them and put them away. And can you guess what the number one most sought after item is? A matched pair of workout socks. I am constantly in competition with my husband and eldest daughter for those darn socks. I have tried everything – buying multiple pairs of plain white socks, buying each person a unique brand and color of socks, it doesn’t matter. Those socks are in such high demand that every matched pair is fair game.

In an attempt to defeat the sock pilferers, I ordered up a pair of performance socks that would be mine, all mine, not only due to the pink and white color (defeating the teen who claims to hate pink) but also due to the awesome female empowerment message on them (take that dear husband)!

She Believed She Could Socks

So She Did Socks

I hid the socks away until I could try them out on a short run. The first thing I noticed is that they are super soft and feel great on my feet. They come in one-size-fits-all which suits my rather large feet well (size 9.5 regular shoe, 11 running shoe). I also like that the ankle height is higher than the average running sock which means that they don’t get pulled below the tongue of the shoe in front or rub on the heel in back.

The one thing to be careful with these socks is that the weave is looser than normal, which I discovered when I snagged my ring on it as I took them off after my run. But they’ve held up well after two more washings and dryings, and — did you see this one coming? — two more wears by my teenager! Yup, she stole these socks too and she likes them! (My husband has yet to steal them but I wouldn’t put it past him. He has gorgeous long hair and is often mistaken for a woman when waiters come up behind him at restaurants. And can you guess who he’s going as for Halloween? Caitlyn Jenner.)

I finally managed to steal the socks back again from the clean laundry and I wore them on the perfect occasion — my ballerina’s “parent participation night” at the ballet studio. Now, parent participation night was fun and easy when my daughter was in Ballet 2 and we did all the most basic moves. But this time she is in Ballet 4 and I got a real taste of the athleticism of these girls! With all the running I do I’ve got some pretty tight muscles and it was quite a challenge to do the barre work and the floor moves. As I lined up with the two other brave mothers to do a series of leaps across the room, I flashed them my socks. Remember ladies, “She believed she could, so she did!”

So if you’ve got a female best running friend or an athlete in the family, these socks would make a thoughtful gift before a big race or a great stocking stuffer at Christmas. Or treat yourself to a pair as a motivation or a reward, just beware the sock pilferers in your own home!

Hooray for Made in the USA

Hooray for Made in the USA

These Socrates performance socks retail for $8.99 at GoneForaRun.com. I received a free pair of socks for review purposes but was not compensated for my honest review.

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I hope all the mother runners out there had a wonderful Mother’s Day last Sunday and everyone else had a lovely weekend. I slept in and then rallied my husband for a two hour run/hike that I just did not want to end. It was so gorgeous outside and it was wonderful to spend time with Mike (knowing that the kids were happy at home).

When we got back, Mike made omelets for everyone and the girls gave me flowers and cards. I’m calling it a huge parenting win that my 6-year-old thinks my favorite food is “greens”:

Mother's Day card

Later in the week I packed up thirty technical shirts that were left over from the iCureMelanoma 5K. The printer mistakenly printed our 53 team shirts on cotton tees and when it mailed the right technical shirts, the shipment included several extras.

Technical shirts

They’re really nice, soft shirts and I knew just the people who could put them to good use. I sent them to Denise Dollar at Heart Strides, a non-profit organization that gives running shoes and running gear to mothers who need encouragement to care for themselves as they care for critically or chronically ill children or children with special needs. If you want to learn more about Heart Strides, listen to this great podcast of Denise being interviewed by Sarah and Dimity of Another Mother Runner. (I love listening to Another Mother Runner podcasts on my long runs!)

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I had a fantastic morning with my family and friends at the iCureMelanoma 5K in Fullerton, California today! It’s a great community event for runners, walkers and anyone interested in supporting melanoma research.

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What started last year with our core group of book club members on Team BookIt! grew this year to 53 people on Team Beckman Coulter. With the generous help of the Beckman Coulter Foundation, our team raised $5,418 for melanoma research at University of California, Irvine (UCI)! We won the top prize for fundraising, and it felt really great to contribute towards the $100,000 that was presented to UCI at the end of the race. We thought we were in the running for the prize for largest team but Team Mac came in first with an amazing 107 members who came out to honor the memory of Michael Gerard MacDonald, a man lost too soon to melanoma in 2009. So really Team Mac’s victory is a huge win-win and it’s simply wonderful that so many people participated to support much-needed melanoma research!

My eldest daughter and I ran the race in the competitive wave that started promptly at 7 a.m. The course runs over challenging terrain — a mix of grass, road, and dirt. It forms a lollipop shape as it runs out to and around gorgeous Laguna Lake, which shades you with beautiful trees along the park path. I cannot say I’d recommend it as a “fast” course but man you wouldn’t know it when you look at the finishing times. The winner came in at a blazing 18:54! I managed to pull off a PR of 23:44 for 1st in my 41-50 age group of 33 women. And my daughter also set a PR (by 4 minutes!), coming in at 24:11 for 3rd in her age group!

My husband and middle daughter had fun on the course in the 8:00 a.m. open wave with many of our friends. There were tons of great vendors at the finish line and we feasted on pizza, Italian ice, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and protein bar samples. Of course there were also sunscreen samples on hand, and my girls were thrilled to find free nail polish samples at the Solfingers booth. I am definitely going to check out the Solfingers line of sun protection gloves and arm sleeves. I’ve been wearing my plain blue Phoenix Marathon arm warmers for sun protection but the Solfingers sleeves and gloves offer several super cute designs.

I’ve got my sights set on another 5K at the Downtown Anaheim 5K Run on June 13, 2015, and we are already planning to come back next year for the 10th Annual iCureMelanoma 5K!

What do you use for sun protection? In addition to wearing a visor, sunglasses and as much clothing as I can tolerate, I like Coppertone Sport sunscreen. The dermatologist Dr. William Baugh who puts on the iCureMelanoma 5K recommends Neutrogena as his favorite brand. (Tip: he says it does not matter whether you use the spray or cream formula of sunscreen — the best sunscreen is the one you will use! If you have trouble with sunscreen running in your eyes he recommends a silicon-based sunscreen for athletes). I also try as much as possible to avoid peak sun hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and I choose a shady route whenever possible (not always easy in sunny Southern California).

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On September 11, 2001, I was in the second month of pregnancy with my first child. I remember wondering what kind of world I was bringing a child into. Thirteen years later, I think it is fitting to tell a story that reminds us that there are good people in the world.

Yesterday I dropped off one of my children at her gymnastics lesson and headed out for a run. If I’m a very good girl, I can squeeze in 4.5 hilly miles in 50 minutes. It’s not easy to do, especially since I much prefer running in the early morning rather than in the late afternoon. But I like to get in hill work at least once per week, and I like to take advantage of the time that my daughter is in her lesson, rather than wasting it by driving home and back to pick her up. So I set off on foot and huffed and puffed through the 93 degree weather. Yes, 93 degrees.

I only made it eight minutes into the run though, when I happened upon an elderly woman who called to me for help. She was on the sidewalk, clinging to a wall, clearly struggling to walk in the heat. Her car had run out of gas a little way down the road, and when she could not tell AAA her exact location, she set off on foot for help (without her cell phone, purse, or any water). Thank goodness another runner, Carlos, soon came up behind me, and together we were able to support the woman enough to assist her back to her car. Another driver saw us all on the side of the road, and when she stopped we asked her if she had any water. She set off to the nearest store to buy some for each of us.

I called AAA again and gave the representative our location, and then Carlos and I stayed with the woman until the service van arrived with a couple of gallons of gas. During that time, we tried to assess the woman’s physical and mental condition. At first we believed she just needed some cold water and a little rest and then she would be fine to drive again. However, the more we talked with her, the more concerned we became. (I didn’t think she showed signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, but perhaps I should have been more concerned about that. If I thought she was in immediate physical danger I would have called 911, but she kept insisting she was fine, and just needed to rest a bit). Carlos and I decided that we would have the AAA driver fill up her tank with the two gallons of gas and then lead her to the gas station down the road just to be safe.

After waiting for half an hour, I had to run (literally) back to pick up my daughter, so Carlos stayed with the woman until the AAA guy arrived a few minutes later. I drove back 10 minutes after that to make sure everything was okay, and saw that the AAA guy was there with the woman. Carlos told me that unfortunately the woman was not in any better condition to drive, and the AAA driver made the assessment that she required a tow truck to pick up the car and take her home. In retrospect I wonder whether we should have called the police to have an officer assess the situation, because the longer it went on the less clear it was that she had all her mental faculties, and the less clear it was whether that was due to the heat alone or due to a more serious decline in her mental health prior to getting lost and running out of gas. I was reassured by the fact that she recited her address correctly (based on her driver’s license) and she insisted she knew the way home, and at this point I just have to trust that the AAA man and the tow truck driver did what they needed to do to make sure that she got there safely (and got her additional help if she truly needed it).

When I finally got home at 5:30 p.m., I hopped on the treadmill to finish off the remaining 2.3 miles of my run. It wasn’t easy, and it took me a long time to wind down from the day’s adventures. In the end, I am grateful that within the space of half an hour, four people had taken time out of their day to assist an elderly woman in a crisis. And I’m happy to have met Carlos, who will be running the LA Marathon as his first full marathon in March. I’m sure our paths will cross again, and I can rest assured knowing that good people like him are out running, patrolling the streets, ready to help anyone in need.

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“Fundraise for charity in connection with a race” occupies a high priority spot on my bucket list. I’d always secretly admired people who made the commitment to raise funds along with committing to training for a race itself, and I made it a point to donate what I could to each of my friends who sent out a fundraising plea in connection with a walk or run. Finally I’ve gotten the opportunity myself to fundraise in conjunction with the iCureMelanoma 5K Run/Walk on May 3, 2014, in Fullerton, California. So far “Team Book It!” has raised $935 towards melanoma research at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Melanoma Research Division.

Here are some fundraising tips I’ve learned along the way:

1. Choose a race, a location, and/or a cause that have meaning to you. The race I chose is a local trail race that makes it easy for many of my family members and friends to participate. Also, it helps me ask local businesses to support the race and charity, because those businesses know that the race participants are some of the most likely candidates to take advantage of their businesses.

As for the cause of melanoma research:

Melanoma Cancer is rated as the fastest growing cancer in the U.S. and worldwide. In fact, recent statistics reveal that 1 in 50 people will develop invasive melanoma in their lifetime.

Some of you may know that I used to be an estate planning lawyer. One of my clients, a long, long time ago, came into the office for estate planning. One of the paralegals in my office pulled this person aside and offered advice about getting evaluated for potential skin cancer. Two months later (thankfully after the estate plan was in place), the person passed away from a particularly aggressive cancer. The risk of developing skin cancer is especially significant for endurance athletes like runners and triathletes who spend a lot of time in the sun. I had no qualms about supporting the important research being done in this area.

2. Investigate the charity and how the funds raised will be used. Is the affiliated charity a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity to which donations are tax deductible? How does the charity rate on Charity Navigator and similar sites? What percentage of the funds raised will go to pay for the race, and what percentage will be donated to the designated charity? In my case, it is the goal of the race organizers to pay for the race expenses through sponsorships so that all of the registration fees and donations go directly toward melanoma research.

3. Make it a group effort. I am lucky that my book discussion group decided to read Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run in conjunction with running this local 5K. That’s allowed us to solicit donations from my friends and family PLUS the friends and family of my friends. Don’t discount the fact that race registrations also benefit the charity involved. Team Book It! has 25 members with the hope of more, and all those registration fees benefit the charity.

4. Make friends with the race director. The race director is your best resource for materials and methods to ask for donations from local friends and businesses. Often a race director will have drafts of letters and sponsorship materials that you can pass along to potential corporate sponsors and business donors.

5. Capitalize on connections. Either you or your team members are bound to have connections to local businesses that will be happy to support your race efforts. Do you buy your running shoes from a local running store? Do you work out at a local gym? Is your friend on the board of a company that promotes health and fitness?

6. Use social media. What else are Facebook, Twitter and other social media for than to promote just such fundraising campaigns? I cannot imagine a better use of social media.

7. Don’t be shy. Now is not the time to be modest about your fitness efforts. Post about how hard you are training to do your best at the race. Ask for support! You might just be surprised how many people are willing to chip in what they can to support your fundraising and training efforts!

8. Consider unique fundraising methods. If you have a unique skill, take advantage of it! Can you run a bake sale where the proceeds benefit your charity? Do you have crafty friends who would be willing to donate hand-crafted items to be sold online to benefit the cause?

9. Pay your friends back in kind. If you want your friends and family to support you in your efforts, make sure you give back what you can when they ask the same.

10. Thank each donor personally. Pay attention to the donor roll or ask the race director to give you the names of people who donated to your fundraising. Write a personal thank you note, or, if you think the donors would not mind, thank them on social media for their contributions. It’s not about the amount, it’s about the fact that the donors were kind and generous enough to give what they could to support you, your race, and your charity of choice.

If you feel strongly about melanoma research and/or supporting random bloggers’ efforts at fundraising, please consider making a tax deductible donation to Team Book It! through that link. Can you help us push our donations for melanoma research over $1,000?! Thank you. (Please don’t be shy about leaving a comment to tell me that you donated! I really mean it when I say I would like to thank you personally!)

Have you ever raised funds in connection with a race? Do you have any advice to offer?

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