Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Running in 2013

Hello, my faithful running (and non-running) friends. I have been a bit on the busy and overstretched side to maintain the weekly (or even monthly) blogging I'd like to do. But I do feel motivated to blog when a big event happens--a race or the beginning of a new year.

I've been reading lots of runner blogs the past day or two that contain running goals. I love reading these, because it tells me what my friends (or people I don't even know) are training toward this year. I am only going to mention my goals in terms of races very briefly. Then I have a more important announcement (in case you're wondering...no, not pregnant). I have two sets of racing goals. Mine, and those I would like to help others achieve.

Wendy's Racing Goals:

1. Finish the Ice Age 50 miler in May, 2013. No time goal. This will be my first 50 miler, and I am very excited. Scott is coaching me once again.
2. Depending on the outcome of goal 1 above, run a second 50 miler in the fall. Probably JFK. Maybe a time goal at that point but I have no idea what that would be.

That's pretty much it. I will be running some other smaller races, I'm sure, but these are the two big ticket items. I do not plan to race a marathon next year. After my PR of 3:16:09 at Monumental, I really just felt like focusing on ultras for a while. I will likely attempt another marathon PR in 2014. But, for now, I'm focused on running long and slow.

Goals I hope to Help Others Reach:
1. Pace my friend JoAnna at the Indy Monumental Marathon in November, 2013. I don't know if she has a time goal yet (though I kind of have one for her), but I am SO, SO, SO looking forward to doing this.
2. Help anyone else interested in running get started/meet any goal he/she desires.

Number 2 above is my favorite thing to do regarding running. I'm not kidding or saying that to make myself look nice, but it gives me such satisfaction and I am always willing to help, whether that means emailing advice or running alongside someone in training runs or the race itself.

Big Announcement

Calling it a big announcement was a ploy to get you to read this far. I'm not sure it's big, but it's certainly significant (to me). I've never run a race for charity. I've run races that donate portions or all of their proceeds to charity, but I have never personally raised money via my own training and competition in a race. As a runner, I've been quite exposed to this practice, and nothing has ever really moved me to engage in something like that. People run for cancer charities, and for those to end Alzheimer's and autism. I'm not at all saying those are not worthy charities--they certainly are. I am just being honest in saying that no organization has ever stirred me to run in order to raise funds for them. Perhaps this does not speak well of my character, but it was the case.

Until I heard about Danny Stanton. As most of you know, I am an assistant professor and I conduct research to improve the quality of life of persons with epilepsy. I also have epilepsy (and am extremely thankful to God that my seizures are very well controlled with medication). It was via a research project with my former advisor (and current mentor) that I learned about Danny. His parents started the Danny Did Foundation after he died, just a few months before his 5th birthday, of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). I heard a bit of Danny's story via research conference calls, but it took  me a while to get up the courage to visit the Danny Did website. One day, though, sitting alone in my office, I did.

I am not exaggerating when I say that my heart broke and I wept as I read Danny's story, and all that his family (and others) have done to advocate for persons with epilepsy. I cannot explain why I was so moved by this little boy or the organization that is run in his name. But I know that when God breaks your heart over something, He's urging you to do something--to pay attention to whatever it is that is making you hurt so deeply inside.

Danny Stanton (credit: dannydid.org)
About a month later, I attended the American Epilepsy Society meeting in San Diego. The Danny Did Foundation was there. Before one of the biggest lectures of the meeting, I looked up and saw his little face on the big screen. Again, my heart broke. This is significant because I am an ex-critical care--neuro critical care--nurse. I've seen LOTS of horrendously tragic scenes. But none of them had made me feel like this. Then, I met Danny's uncle. He told me about Team Danny Did, a portion of their organization which allows runners to run any race to raise money for their foundation. And the visceral ache I'd felt for these people morphed into a strong desire to do something--anything--to contribute to their organization. One thing that I do really well (by well I mean consistently, not necessarily fast) is run. I mentioned to Danny's uncle that I'm a runner, and that I'd really like to run a race for Danny.

And so I am. I am running the Ice Age 50 Miler to raise $2,000 for the Danny Did Foundation, and I've never felt better about why I'm running. I urge you to go to my fundraising website to find out more about Danny and why I'm doing this, and, if you're so inclined, to donate. Any amount of money you donate will go to the one Foundation that has managed to make this serious, competitive runner devote her training and race not to a time goal, but to a goal of changing the lives of people with epilepsy, and also those of their families.
I will be blogging at least monthly as I train in memory of Danny and in honor of all of those affected by epilepsy, and I hope you'll follow along the journey.
Wishing you a happy and blessed 2013!

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