Posts Tagged ‘michael j. fox foundation’

Dear Readers, today I am posting about something that has very little to do with running and an awful lot to do with something else that is near and dear to my heart–finding a cure to Parkinsons Disease, so that my friend Dan and millions others no longer have to suffer this debilitating disease. It is heartbreaking to watch my friend suffer under the effects of PD, and the only thing I can do, really, is fundraise to support research that is trying to find a cure.  The first time I fundraised, I ran the London Marathon wand was able to pull in $10,000 of donations in one year. This time, I am part of the Team Fox Young Professionals, and we have pulled together a cool event whose proceeds will go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research.

Sunday Funday Brunch
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Noon to 3 PM
Dos Caminos in the Meatpacking District

and to buy tickets ($80 for open bar & buffet/$50 for open buffet & one drink)

Also, we are raffling off a $250 gift card to Saks Fifth Avenue, and we have pulled together some excellent packages for the silent auction, for example:

  • Triathlon Starter Kit: V02Max test, Garmin 310XT, $50 gift card to RUN by Foot Locker, and a goody basket full of cycling gear
  • A Taste of the Upper East Side: gift cards for meals at Luke’s, t-Bar Steakhouse, and Fratelli’s Brick Oven Pizzeria
  • Makeover You: Sarah Mills haircut, teeth whitening, and two sessions witha  personal trainer
  • Comedy Central: 2 tickets to each The Daily Show and The Colbert Report
  • New York Sports Fan: tickets to games to see the Yankees, the Mets and the Red Bulls

I really hope all my New York area readers can make it. So far we’ve sold 100 tickets but we are aiming to sell at least 200. I would love to see you there–some of my running buddies have already committed, as have a couple of colleagues! If my coworkers can drag themselves, so can you!

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I promise this will not turn into a daily account of my aches and pains. I’m too young for that, and I respect my readers too much to put you through that tedium. But, one more update is needed before I turn my focus to blogging about the elites, and other topics in running as I recover. I hope you don’t mind?

First off, I would be hugely remiss if I didn’t write about how much all of your thoughtful and realistic comments and tweets have meant. Seriously, your words have been like sheep dogs, herding my thought patterns (little lambs) ever-towards the positive (verdant meadows) and away from the negative (wolf territory).  I especially love what Julie and Joe told me, about how Joan Benoit Samuelson had knee surgery 17 days before she ran and won the first women’s Olympic Marathon Trials in 1984.  There is no better inspiration for a female marathoner than Joanie B.

I have never denied that misery loves company, and the fact that JMK, my colleague and fellow GMR relay racer is also on the DL (shoulder injury) and going through PT has been a source of consolation and perspective. She and I attend meetings together, and share silent grins as she winces from a reflexive gesture, and I stand up from my hamstring throbbing. We swap updates after each doctor’s appointment and PT session. Today, I confided that sometimes my hamstring hurts so much that I often think, as I walk down the office hallways, Ooh, I just want to grab it in the hopes it will ease the pain. Of course, “grabbing it” means cupping my left ass cheek, so she and I had a nice long laugh over that. Ten years ago (when my ass was a few inches higher), that would have sent the imaginations of the [straight] male assistants aflame; but now, it’s just inappropriate and gross.

Friends and family are also rocking in the sympathy division. Sister-in-Law called to offer her shoulder to cry on; and Husband (among other things) helped me get my shoes off last night, when it was too painful for me to bend and do it myself. I’ve also called  upon the Gods. No, not the swift Achilles; I have summoned Bacchus, for nothing dulls the pain in my hammie better than red wine. Yes, I am icing and gently stretching, but red wine makes everything better. And, I can drink as much as I want since I don’t have to wake up and run six, ten, or twenty miles tomorrow.

Today I went to see my orthopedist, who has not steered me wrong in the past but with whom today I seriously locked horns (I am an Aires, after all). She has a record of my first hamstring pull in my file, yet she was insistent that there was a good chance my pain could be because of a stress fracture in my pelvis. I tried to talk her out of it. She made me get an x-ray. I laid on the x-ray table thinking, this is complete money-grubbing bullshit. Even after the x-ray revealed nothing, my orthopedist refused to authorize an MRI to see if I’ve torn my hamstring in any way (though she thought a bone scan would be a good idea!!), and refused to OK anti-inflammatories beyond Aleve. It has been suggested that I need a new orthpedist, and I agree; yet, her premise (wait-and-see) is valid and so if I am absolutely no better (or, goddess forfend, worse) in two weeks, I will seek another opinion. In the meantime, I cannot think beyond a 24-hour window without risking total despair.

I have decided to think like Michael J. Fox; it seems an apt choice. He’s been getting lots of attention lately as it’s National Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and his new memoir Always Looking Up, went on sale yeterday. In one of his TV appearances, he said how he could focus on how his disease limits him, or he could choose instead to look at all the choices still available to him, and spend his time acting on those options. I like that, and have been  diligently reminding myself that all this free time is a sudden gift. Husband gets more of me; I am able to sleep more; I am reading more; I made a fantastic Italian dinner tonight and just baked a batch of cookies. These are all small pleasures I willingly pass on while training, and I miss them. No doubt I’d rather be completing my training for the Flora London Marathon without pain or inury; but given the current situation I will instead enjoy the company of my spouse, cooking dinner, baking cookies, and reading an interesting book.

It will be okay. I came around to this premise today. No matter what, and even though it may not be to plan (and oh how I cling to my plans!), it will be okay. To appropriately quote the Brits, “Keep calm and carry on.”

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Did you know that in the UK, most of the amateur racers in marathons are fundraising for one charity or another? It’s the rule, rather than the exception. Here in the US, running for charity is becoming more and more popular. I have run two marathons as a member of Team in Training, and in fact, my first race ever (The Run to Home Plate 5k) had a charity component (I raised about $300 for the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation).

I’ve been donating to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research for many years, and I get their email newsletter. That’s how I learned about Team Fox. Not just for runners, Team Fox supports citizen fundraisers of all types–people who hold community pancake breakfasts, organize cruise trips, or climb Mount Everest to gather funds that the MJFF can use to finance research. I’m amazed at some of the ideas fellow Team Fox members not only dream up but execute. (I wish I’d thought of this idea first…) Me, I was instantly jazzed the second I heard that Team Fox will get me entry to any of the five World Marathon Majors races, if I promise to raise $5,000.  That, I thought, is what I’m going to do for Dan. After I saw Ryan Hall’s spine-tingling performance online (yes, I watched the whole race on my laptop, cheering like a crazy person) last April, I knew I had to trace that course as well.

I registered with Team Fox the second I heard registration was open for the 2009 Flora London Marathon, convinced that runners would be elbowing each other out of the way for a chance at guaranteed entry. I was so psyched (yes, psyched!) to sign on with Team Fox that I didn’t even feel silly when they told me (in October) that I would be the first on the list for a bib, as soon as they got their entries from the race organizers. As it turns out, I am the only Team Fox runner headed to London, from the whole of the US!  With Team Fox, there aren’t any group runs, or coaches who hold your hand through training and taper, but they do give you this nifty blue plastic portfolio to corral all your fundraising papers, and help you promote your events by mentioning them in email newsletters and on their blog. Also, I’ll get to race in a Team Fox singlet, which I think is cool. Their offices are in the Financial District, and my contact is no-nonsense and very helpful (and also a speedy runner–she finished the London Marathon just several minutes over three hours).

I like the way, instead of holing up away from the public, Michael J. Fox started this foundation to quickly finance research to find a cure. I like the foundation’s mission, and I like that Fox is deeply involved, rather than merely lending his name for publicity.  Full disclosure: he remains one of my favorite actors, I never missed an episode of “Family Ties” or “Spin City” because of him, and Back to the Future still makes me laugh. His memoir, Lucky Man, is a great read, and takes you through his rise to fame but more importantly, through the first years in which he lived with Parkinson’s.

We all know Parkinson’s Disease sucks. If someone dear to you has it, well then you know first hand the practical implications of the facts I’m going to list now. Nearly 5 million folks suffer from its effects. It’s a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder whose symptoms progress, unrelentingly. There’s no cure, and current treatments just minimize the symptoms without halting the disease’s progression. Symptoms I’ve seen include involuntary tremors, depression, speech difficulties, decreased mobility, imbalance and dry eyes.

I leave you with a video of Fox cheering on members of his team at the 2008 New York City Marathon. I remember this part of the race (Mile 24), but don’t remember passing the Team Fox cheering station. But by that time, I was a “little dazed,” though I prefer the word “focused.”

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For Dan (2)

Nearly three years ago, when I chose to put aside the words “impossible” and “cannot” and begin training for my first marathon with Team in Training, I was emerging from a sad, dark time in my life. Training for the Arizona Rock & Roll Marathon was part of how I healed myself, how I hastened the regeneration of my spirit. That first time, I trained myself out of the bleakness; this time, I am training through it and despite it. 

What is it that keeps us going through months of poor performance, through race times that make us shudder, through feeling like we are always on the brink of injury and never well-rested? A full answer to that question is a longer essay; and indeed we each have our own answer, which may change with the seasons. But for this season, for this month, my answer is: I train for Dan.

About three weeks ago I began sending out my fundraising letters and emails. As you may recall, I got my bib for the Flora London Marathon through Team Fox, which sends runners to all five World Marathon Majors races in exchange for our fundraising for The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease Research. Dan, my college professor, mentor, and dear friend, has Parkinson’s Disease. The letters were sent to the names & addresses his wife Ilona (also a dear friend) had transcribed from their address book and given to me on one of my recent visits to Baltimore. The emails went out to my personal contacts: running buddies, TNT alums, Loyola College alums, and randomly assorted family members and friends who have stuck by me.

This weekend, when my pace run took me uphill, I couldn’t help it: I thought of Dan. Together, Dan, we’re going to make it up this hill, and we’re not slowing down. And when Sunday’s long run felt too long, when my sneakers felt like weights, I thought, Together, Dan, we’re going to get our feet through this mile.

The response to my invitation to donate in honor of Dan and/or in support of my marathon efforts was immediate, and a bit overwhelming. I think I had modest expectations, given the recession, and the fact that I’ve already tapped many friends & family twice over the past three years for the LLS. But, I found myself blinking away tears of gratitude as all manner of people from my circle gave $1000 collectively, in 48 hours. A few days later, Husband came running when he heard me crying–the first check donation had arrived, for $500. People I hardly know, people I haven’t seen or spoken to since college graduation, giving hundreds of dollars. Perhaps I am betraying my middle class status, but these sums make me tremble with thankfulness.

I have two thoughts. First, I should have done this years ago. And second, if some other student of Dan’s were to send me a letter asking for money to find a cure for his disease, I too would smash the piggy bank or skip a fancy dinner (or nine) to write a fat check.

Once a week, I take ten minutes to make a list of the things I am grateful for. I’ve been doing this every Tuesday for over a year now. Some days it feels like a fruitless exercise, that either there’s too much and I can never get it all down on paper or that my bitterness has locked my heart against the intangibles. But lately, simply because I have asked friends and strangers Will you help? I slosh around in a little puddle of gratitude all the time. Gratitude for Dan, and for those who love enough to donate in his honor, or simply because I’ve told them it would mean a lot to me if they did.

Dan is who keeps me training, and unexpected generosity is what gets me to work, to interact, to want to be Sunshine instead of a little gray cloud. If it weren’t for this fundraising in honor of Dan, would I still be training? But if I weren’t a marathoner, would I be fundraising as a part of Team Fox? These questions, however, I don’t need to answer.

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Missing all sorts of things today… like sleep, my training routine, and Brother, just to name a few. I’ll try and step around this strange-shaped hole today, and hope that drinks with CB and my JJ run tomorrow will fill it in a bit…

My heart goes out to Ansky, who is trying to sort out how to balance his training with the needs of his famly and employer. I’m of little use as far as advice goes, for as Husband will tell you, I kind of go underground when I train. But if any of you, my dear readers, have training/life balance tips for Ansky, please pop on over to Run Ansky Run and help the guy out… I’ve been immersing myself in this album all week long. Thank you MUG for recommending sassy-voiced Adele to me… Here’s a link to a favorite article of mine from the New York Times archive (August 2007). Dovetails [kind of] with Matt’s most recent DRC ‘cast about personal records and personal bests. And also, with my own personal [record] story… Let the Christmas-list writing begin: for those of you who haven’t yet joined the cult of Garmin… More to come on this in early December, but click here to read a bit about the foundation I’m fundraising for as part of my Flora London Marathon experience. Coincidentally, I had a massive crush on the foundation’s founder and namesake for at least a decade… I definitely don’t have a crush on Rachael Ray, but here are some inspiring & funny clips from her show, where she interviews Ryan Reynolds (crushable, but not my type, even though he did run the New York City Marathon this year, raising $100,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation) and MJF makes a surprise appearance (I think I still have a crush)….

Time for me to do some back-scratching… please take a moment to read these bloggers’ reports of their own experiences running the ING New York City Marathon. Races Like a Girl cheered like a girl (sans pom poms and teeny skirt, however) this year… Tea Knee Goes to the UK actually came back to NY to spectate and take photos of the elite women… The Bowery Boys give the history and tour of the race on their New York City history themed podcast… Liz Plosser compares the NYC and Chicago courses in her blog for Time Out Chicago… Guest blogger Susan at rundangerously is faster than I am, but “interntional clandestine nudity” is something we’ve got in common… Run to Live-Live to Run couldn’t wait tog et out of Queens during his marathon, but I won’t hold it against him…The Running Laminator is not only much faster (try, by 50 minutes) than I am, she’s also much wordier and more analytical than I am. Settle in with popcorn and a coke for this four-part, mile-by-mile race report, plus bonus statistical analysis wrap-up. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and fascinating wrap-up… More race reports from other bloggers to come, I just wanted to get this Ellipses up & out before I’m up & out myself.

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