Positive Motivation

(Fair warning, this will be a long post.)

With 7 weeks and counting to race day, now is when I need positive motivation the most. I’ve just run my highest mileage month ever (August for 231 miles). In the next 5 weeks of training before I taper, I’ll run my highest mileage week (ever) as well. The workouts are getting longer and mentally tougher. It’s now that I must hold strongest to my determination because it’s this training that will help me travel the path I want. So here’s a mix of sayings and images from around the ‘net that harden my resolve, give me the strength to endure, and motivate me to reach my goals.


Instead of giving myself reasons why I can’t, I give myself reasons why I can.


I AM A RUNNER because I know that despite my best efforts, I will always want more from myself. I will always want to know my limits so that I can exceed them.

I AM A RUNNER because I run. Not because I run fast. Not because I run far.

I AM A RUNNER because I say I am. And no one can tell me I’m not.

– John Bingham


No one is born a perfect runner. And none of us will become one. But through incremental steps, we can become better runners. And that’s the beauty of our sport: There are no shortcuts, nothing is given to us; we earn every mile, and we earn every result.

– Peter Magill


After enough miles, over enough runs and enough years, I realized: No matter what, no matter when, or where, or why, I can find my shoes and go for a run and things will get better. And that realization? Just knowing that? It made things better.

– Mark Remy (So I Went For A Run)


Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

– Mark Twain


Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest.

– Haruki Murakami


That’s what running does to lives. It’s not just exercise. It’s not just achievement. It’s a daily discipline that has nothing to do with speed, weight, social status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, where you live, what car you drive, or whether anyone anywhere loves you. It’s about the slow and painful process of being the best you can be. That’s why the first step out the door is always so hard. That’s when we choose between settling for average and being a superhero version of ourselves.

– Martin Dugard (To Be A Runner)

The more I run, the more I love my body. Not because it is perfect, far from it, but because with every mile it is proving to me that I am capable of more than I ever thought possible.


I have learned that there is no failure in running, or in life, as long as you keep moving. It’s not about speed and gold medals. It’s about refusing to be stopped.

– Amby Burfoot


The Marathon is not about the race, it’s about commitment…It’s not about instant gratification, it’s about endurance. It’s not about the thrill, it’s about passion. To run a marathon, you need to not only commit to the sport, you need to commit to yourself. In short, to run a marathon, you need to be a runner.

my gym

Running has given me the courage to start, the determination to keep trying, and the childlike spirit to have fun along the way. Run often and run long, but never outrun your joy of running.

– Julie Isphording



Charity Motivation: One Day At A Time

In July 2010 my Uncle Greg was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells responsible for creating antibodies (here’s an article on Mayo Clinic if you want more info).

While I’ve kept up with everything through updates, I finally sat down for a long and—for me—emotional phone call to get his story. So here it is—told to the best of my ability and hopefully with no grievous errors—another reason why this cause (Little Things For Cancer) is so close to my heart.

November of 2009, Uncle Greg hurt his back at work and spent nearly 7 months dealing with insurance and worker’s comp. He had a horizontal break in his L2 vertebrae (which I’m told is very unusual). Finally, they did surgery to access the damage and repair what they could. During the procedure, the doctor noticed a tumor and sent him in for a MRI afterwards to check it out.

The tests came back and his doctors confirmed. He had multiple myeloma. It was cancer.

My doctor told me I was too healthy to have cancer.

Hearing you have cancer throws you for a tailspin.

That was July 2010. Right now, there is no known cause and no cure for multiple myeloma.  The only hope is to get the cancer into remission and hope it stays there. It eats away at bones, creating small and numerous holes. It essentially honeycombs the bones and is often caught too late to prevent severe damage. He was lucky—if it wasn’t for that injury on the job it likely wouldn’t have been caught when it was. To alleviate the injury and counteract the tumor having eaten away at his bones, he now has 2 metal plates in his back.

Uncle Greg started out with radiation therapy for a few months. Then he moved on to chemo. After two months of treatment, he started having a reaction to the medication and had to be taken off it. His body went into a specific form of shock where the usual body count is 1,100 but the cancer mixed with medication had him at 0. That resulted in a 2 week stay in the hospital.

Then from October until February he was unable to continue any form of treatment because his white blood cell count was too low. If you’re sick with something like a respiratory infection or anything that strains the body, treatment may be delayed because it takes too much of a toll.

But as he told me, he was still blessed because it was caught early. Uncle Greg spoke of random strangers who would walk up and ask him if it was okay to put him on their prayer lists. That they’d like to have him in their thoughts while he fought this battle.

Finally, he was able to start chemo again and two times a week went in for sessions. In a very simplistic explanation, you have a protein count in your body in relation to cancer. If it hits 0, you’re in remission. When he started, it was at 3.9.

As part of his treatment, Uncle Greg agreed to undergo a stim cell transplant. It started as 17 days in the hospital. Right after the procedure, he felt fine. “I didn’t understand why I had to stay because I finally felt good. But when it hits you, it feels like you ran into a wall.” Due to the strain and likely the mix of medications and treatment, he didn’t feel hungry and food just didn’t taste good. From diagnosis and during treatment, he went from 210 to 139 pounds.

After the stim cell transplant it was like starting over at 0 again. He spent over 2 months in quarantine. When his white blood cell count got back up to 2.1 he was allowed home. For the record, normal count is considered to be between 4.5 and 11. Depending on the doctors you talk to these transplants can be good for 5+ years. As my uncle said, hopefully his will be good for a lifetime.

Now for over a year and a half, Uncle Greg has been in remission.

My uncle Greg now after a year and half in remission.

My uncle Greg now after a year and half in remission.

But that doesn’t mean all is well. He still visits one center every 6 weeks for blood work and protein tests. He visits another every 2 months for more tests. The problem is that the cancer can come back at any time. It could be multiple myeloma or any other form of cancer.

These visits will continue until he reaches a point the doctors are comfortable with his progress. At that time he can come off the medications and visits will be spread out from potentially every 6 months to every year.

He gets a magazine regularly that’s a cancer guide called Cure (check out their site here). He keeps up with new medications and advancements in the field of treating cancer and takes notes that he can discuss with his doctors. “Just in case he needs it later.

Since being diagnosed, Uncle Greg knows two others who have died from multiple myeloma. He said it simply that “some days are a struggle.

Take it one day at a time and take the good days with the bad days is all you can do.

The most important thing right now is that he is in remission. But his story just reinforces that there may not be warning signs. There may be no indication that you are anything but healthy.

You keep up the fight and hope for the best. And take it one day at a time.

So for Uncle Greg and others like him, I’m running to support The Little Things for Cancer. I’ll raise whatever I can to help in any small way that I can and hope that it will help make a difference in someone’s life. The same way my uncle now supports several charities as much as he can. Because as he said, once you’ve had cancer you want to do your best to help and cure it.

I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

-Edward Everett Hale

So take a few minutes; read about the charity and the race on my IR4C Donation Page. Donate if you want and pass it along if you can.

Why Running?

Or alternate title: experience trumps medals 9 times out of 10.

So I’ve had a couple people ask me why I’m so into running. And since most runs are long enough to get some good thinking in, why not? For me, running is all about the experience.

Whether it’s the adrenaline rush of working your way through a pack during a race or the feeling of accomplishment that comes when you get back from an awesome run done all on your own, I love it all.

Days where I have to push through to get a run complete might not feel the best, but show strength of character by getting the work done. It may seem a little crazy to enjoy the days that suck, but it says something for each of us that we try. And if we have to cut a run short, we’ll still go back out the next day knowing that we’ll make it a better day. The idea that it is what you do when no one is watching—that you make the effort to lace up your shoes and get out the door.

Then there are days when everything seems perfect and you just fly through the miles. I’ll feel like I’m seriously floating, like I hardly feel my feet touching the ground. Only to realize that 5, 6, 7 miles have passed in a haze of happy running. Why shouldn’t that experience feel amazing?


One of my favorite medals from the 2012 Gasparilla Half Marathon.

I enjoy all forms of exercise, but rarely get that same runner’s high when I do things like bike or swim. This may be because I’m just not as refined in those sports as running (and I think I suck at them).

This seems a good time to write about this too. After the events at the Boston Marathon earlier this week, it’s only right to reaffirm why exactly we do this. Of all the races that occur, for many this is the Holy Grail of running; the standard we seek to achieve. One of my lifetime (running) goals is to  qualify for and run Boston. And that is one race where the finisher’s medal may hold a place of honor, but will never eclipse the feeling of running over Heartbreak Hill, past Fenway Park, and around that last corner down Boylston Street to the finish. Especially now. For those of us who take up endurance running, it’s not just a healthy choice or a phase. It’s a lifestyle. We define ourselves as runners.

But back to the intended topic. More than anything, I was a bit of a lost lamb when I was younger. I had things I wanted to do and directions I wanted to go, but they were all the standards of growing up. There was very little of me figured into those plans. So I truly believe I began to find myself through running. I was a runner before in high school, but not like the kind of runner I am now. Not just in the distances I do, but in the person I am and what running means to me.

I had to take those years off to be able to come back to running and appreciate it as a completely different person. The words below I believe to be a very apt description of my love for running—of the path I’ve traveled with running to reach the point at which I stand now.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. – T.S. Eliot

I’ll end with only a little more, playing off my alternate title. That one time where the medal trumps the experience? That’s only because that awesome medal will remind you of that amazing race experience.


First marathon medal.

Charity Motivation: Picking Berries

I know a lot of my posts are all about having the opportunity to run the Marine Corps Marathon by raising money for the charity The Little Things for Cancer. While it is an awesome chance to run a big race, my motivation is not simply from the end result of what I’ll be able to do. I consider myself a private sort of person, in that there are many things I choose not to share, but I feel it’s so important that I share this.

My motivation is not due to a race, but rather it’s due to picking berries.

I was just a kid when my Uncle John died from cancer. The bulk of my memories are of the good times. There’s very few I remember of him being in the hospital or being sick. Years later, when I was better able to understand why and how he died, I was told the cancer literally ate away at his body leaving him horribly emaciated by the time he passed. It was one of those times where you wonder if death almost seems kinder.

UncleJohnThis is one of the few pictures I have of us together, picking berries for my grandmother.

Even now, years later, it’s hard for me to look at the picture and think of him without crying. Sometimes it seems silly, as my uncle was the fun one. He would play with us kids outside and help us get into trouble. He helped shovel the snow so we could go out with our sleds. It’s these memories I hold onto.

The Little Things for Cancer’s mission is to give to cancer patients and their caregivers. To create good memories to hold on to, the same way I have. It’s those little things that help.

Because now that I’m older, I can’t help but think of my uncle out picking berries with me. That I never got to truly know the good man that he was. That he will never know the woman I’ve become or the things I’ve accomplished. I couldn’t invite him to see me graduate from high school or college. There was no excited call about completing my first half marathon or marathon. Cancer took away those opportunities from him and my family.

Those thoughts can get overwhelming when thinking about the family we’ve lost. So I do my best to focus on those good memories. Hoping that those little things, like picking berries with his niece, stayed with him and brought him comfort the way they have me.

So I’ll raise money for charity and run this race in honor of the military, but I’ll definitely be racing it for my Uncle John.