Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Winter's warming up

My last post was two weeks ago, and at the time I was doing my best to stay positive in light of the various issues I was dealing with, so let's start this off on the right foot with another update on how I'm doing:
  1. I've surpassed my minimum fundraising requirement-- thank you to everyone who has made that possible!  However, I'm still $2400 below my goal of $6500 and even further away from the team's per-runner goal of $8400. Please click here to donate.
  2. My hip/glute injury is close to 100% healed. I took a break from running and focused on strengthening the area with cross-training and PT, and feel like I've finally returned to my running form.
  3. I'm over my cold. And no, Mom, I still haven't gotten a flu shot, nor do I plan to (sorry).
  4. My face is skin cancer-free, after a 4-hour multi-attempt procedure that temporarily left me looking a bit like Frankenstein, but my stitches have since been removed and looks like in another week or so you won't even be able to see where they excised the tumor.
As for training, I've finally gotten back out there after my short hiatus...

Thursday morning weather report
The first question you might be asking yourself: "isn't it supposed to be freezing cold in Boston right now?" To put things in perspective, my phone's weather app reported a brisk -16 degree "feels like" temperature at 6:00am on Thursday when I stepped out for a morning run. I thought the better of it, and went at lunchtime instead, at which point it was a balmy 17 degrees, plus a windchill.

Your second question might be, "are you nuts?" You might think so if I were the only one out there, but every day I pass a number of others enjoying a run in this weather.  I saw one guy yesterday who was wearing shorts.  There's a saying that "there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing" (apparently he didn't get the message). If you suit up with the right layers, the cold is for the most part hardly noticeable. And it's better than being hot, for sure.

Plus, it's an opportunity for me to take a break out of the daily grind to recognize the beautiful place in which I live and have the opportunity to run. I took these pictures on my run yesterday around the Charles River:

I made a 10-mile loop, then realized that my car key fell through a hole in the pocket (of a relatively new jacket I was wearing) somewhere along the route. Thanks, Saucony. I had no choice but to run the additional 2 miles home... so, a 12-mile run was longer than I had planned, but I felt great. So, I guess I'm finally ready to ramp up my mileage a bit.

If you're still reading this and haven't been convinced to support my run, then I guess I'll have to attempt to bribe you with some quality goods that Kristen and I are offering just in time for Valentine's Day.

Everything below will be homemade, of course, from the chocolate fillings to the english muffins:

Assorted ChocolatesA collection of Valentine's Day chocolates$50.00
Winter Warmer Breakfast BasketA delicious basket of treats including:
  • Pecan and cherry granola
  • Hot chocolate mix with marshmallows
  • Cinnamon coffee cake bread or 12 whole wheat english muffins

Pick-up dates: Anytime before Thursday, February 14th
Order deadline: Wednesday, February 6th
To place an order: Send an email to jeffruns4dfmc@gmail.com with details about what you'd like to purchase and when you'll need it. Payment can be made upon pick-up, with a check made out to Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge.

A reminder that all proceeds from sales of these items, as well as any other contribution made towards my run with DFMC, go to to the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and will be considered by the IRS to be a tax-free donation for the 2013 tax year.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Best is Yet To Come

I've always been a complainer. Ask pretty much anyone that knows me - I often tend to want things to be perfect, and when they aren't, I have a lot to say about it. My instinct is also to explain myself-- to rationalize every statement with probably more detail than people care to hear. Couple that with a related complaint and it's enough to drive anyone nuts who dares to listen to me.

So when I say that I've had a lot of complaints lately, it should come as no surprise to anyone. And while I am cognizant of the opportunity I have to share those complaints on this blog, and explain them away, I'll spare you. That said, I did decide to start this blog partially to keep friends and family updated on my progress in fundraising and training, so here's the latest:

  1. As of yesterday, I've surpassed the halfway mark in my fundraising! Thank you to everyone who has donated thus far, and for those who haven't, you can do so here.
  2. Hip/glute strain injury still in full effect. I'm on week #2 of PT and have decided to stop running until I'm asymptomatic.
  3. I've come down with a cold.
  4. On Monday, I'll not only be raising money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, but I'll also be a DFCI patient. Don't worry -- nothing too serious, just my first of what will likely be many skin cancer diagnoses in my lifetime (basal cell carcinoma), for which I'll be treated in a routine outpatient procedure at the Mohs Micrographic Surgery Center.
As you might imagine, while I've been very happy with my fundraising success, I've had a difficult time staying positive about everything else. This has made me think a lot about why I choose to focus on the not-so-great things when I have so many other reasons to be happy:

  1. I'm married to a wonderful person who has not only helped me with all the fundraising-related baking over the past few weeks, but supports me and loves me everyday.
  2. Despite the hip injury, my body's been in better shape over the past few years than most of my adult life, mostly due to running-- and I have faith that I'll still be able to run in April.
  3. Let's face it, nobody likes a cold, but at least I don't have drug-resistant tuberculosis.
  4. I live in a city that hosts some of the best medical centers in the country.
Maybe the better approach is to simply let go?  Recognize the good and bad things that life throws at you, but take them all at face value?  This seems to have been the approach my grandfather took in life (so much so, that the theme of my father's eulogy for him was "Dave took life at face value").  If you didn't know my grandfather, it might be hard for you to understand what this means, but I can do my best to convey it...

"War hero"
Dave enlisted in the Navy at age 17 and spent 32 months at sea until the war ended. As he was about to go on his first leave in over 2.5 years, a crewman dropped a shell casing on his foot, sending him to sickbay with a broken toe. A few years before his death, my grandfather gave me a bunch of pictures of him during those days, along with a letter that described his time just before and after the war. The letter never mentioned the broken toe story.  And he never, ever talked about the war itself.

Today, my mother told me that Dave had surgery to remove a melanoma not too long ago. It was such a non-event that I don't even remember it, and I don't think my grandfather ever talked about the melanoma he survived, or the prostate cancer he didn't.

While Dave was a sharp dresser in his work life, I remember him spending most of his time around the house in a white v-neck t-shirt and boxer shorts. Even if my grandmother or anyone else cared, I'm pretty sure he didn't, and he never felt the need to explain himself.

He also always had a joke to tell. They weren't always good, but he always made them funny.

I think part of my grandfather's optimism and ability to find humor in everyday life was rooted in simple faith, but mostly I think that it was just his personality, and what made him special. I declared that my DFMC journey this year was meant to be in memory of my grandfather, so over the next few weeks I'll be letting my memory of him inspire me to be more positive, by taking whatever happens at face value.

A week before Dave's death, his sister called him and began with "It's good to hear your voice. You've been through a lot." His unflinching response was, "The best is yet to come."