Saturday, May 28, 2011

Another 13.1 Bites the Dust....Team LIVESTRONG Pittsbugh Half Marathon

Two weeks ago my 16 year old son and I pulled out of our drive way in the dark and headed eastbound for Pittsburgh.

Our mission for this road trip:  To run another 13.1 miles as a member of Team LIVESTRONG and continue running for those that cannot because cancer has stolen them from us; to provide hope for those fighting each and every day to beat cancer; and most importantly, to support LIVESTRONG.


Another 13.1 miles down....for a total of 78.6 raced to raise over $6,000 for LIVESTRONG.  And another 121.4 to go before the end of the year with a goal of raising a minimum of $10,000.

Jay and I had never taken a road trip with just the two of us since he was in Kindergarten.....and that trip involved Paris and London.  Pittsburgh isn't nearly as glamorous but this time he was a teenager with a his first road trip as a driver.

I had a great time chatting with him in the car, listening to him analyze the upcoming Bulls/Heat series and why Microsoft purchased Skype (what 16 year old knows this stuff??).  When did my little boy that was just interested in Legos and Star Wars become a young man?

Once we arrived in Pittsburgh - which is a BEAUTIFUL city....take time to visit it if you have the opportunity - I headed off the the convention center for the Expo.   Of course, in true Barb fashion, the clouds opened up as soon as we checked into our hotel....a torrential downpour that reminded me of the monsoon in LA.

After tracking down an umbrella and avoiding as many puddles as I could, I arrived at the Expo.  A very well organized event....and the coolest part?  All participants received "green" swag bags.  An e-mail arrived a few days prior to the event with links to all the coupons, etc that are normally in the bags.  Runners only received a few items at the Expo...bibs and shirts - great long sleeve tech shirts individualized for the 5K, Relay, Half or Full.  Off for a quick trip through the aisle of venders.  I've attended a lot of race expos and to be honest, for the most part, once you've been to one, you've been to them all.  But, there were some new venders at this event so it was a welcome surprise.

Next up....the LIVESTRONG booth.

I was greeted by three amazing LIVESTRONG employees.  I was asked prior to the weekend if I would relieve them for a few hours so they could attend an event for the charity groups.  What an honor!  I received my instructions and for the next two hours met fellow participants picking up their gear as well as loads of folks just passing by.  It was such an amazing experience to engage in conversation with individuals that were interested in LIVESTRONG, hear their experiences and answer questions about this outstanding organization.

Just as I was about to close up shop, I was greeted by my fellow LIVESTRONG teammate, Katie, and her husband, Scott.  Katie and Scott have been involved with LIVESTRONG for years and are captains of the team I participate on for the LIVESTRONG Challenge - Friends Fighting Cancer.  Check out their site to learn more about this group.

1000's of names on a wall but we were right by each other

A little history.....

Katie and Scott are bikers.  I was introduced to them by a mutual friend - that friend of mine here in town that encouraged me to read Lance Armstrong's book "It's Not About the Bike" and to get involved with the LIVESTRONG Challenges.  I showed up that first year in Austin not knowing anyone.  The Friends Fighting Cancer team welcomed me as one of their own.  And not being a biker, Katie helped me through that first 45 mile bike ride.

Fast forward to this past August.  There was a LIVESTRONG Challenge in Philadelphia and it landed on the anniversary of Brian's passing.  My 12 year old, 7 year old and I loaded up the van and headed to Philly.  Scott and Katie, and the FFC team, welcomed us with open was like we were with long lost friends.

Another trip to Austin this past year for another Challenge.....and this time Katie never left my side as we rode the 45 miles again - in hill country no less and 2 weeks after I had run the Chicago Marathon.  Not even when I collided with another biker (in front of Team RadioShack).  She hung with me while I signed away my life in order to obtain a band aid.   It was during this bike ride Katie mentioned that she wanted to start running again.

So.....when I signed up to run with Team LIVESTRONG for the Pittsburgh Half, Katie signed up as well.....and Scott signed up to volunteer at the event.

Fast forward back to Pittsburgh....

It was great to see my fellow cancer kickin' pals....and Katie is a true cancer kicker having survived cancer (check out her story here).   Katie had encountered an unfortunate injury which derailed her training a bit but was still determined to attempt the distance, even if she had to walk.  Once again demonstrating the LIVESTRONG attitude that allowed her to beat cancer.

Katie & I meeting Jeff Galloway
Another highlight of the weekend was walking through the Expo with Katie, turning a corner, and walking into Jeff Galloway.  For those of you wondering "who is Jeff Galloway?" he is a running guru that has created a training program which involves integrating periods of walking into your running.   I have never followed the program but do know others that have with great success, and this was the program Katie was following in her training.  A very approachable man and he provided  encouragement to both of us.

Katie, Scott & I carbing up
The sun eventually came out and we enjoyed spending time in Pittsburgh, including a great pre-race carbo loading meal outdoors.  The four of us met up for great conversation and food.  It was a very proud parent moment to see my oldest conversing with ease....and educating the three adults on a few topics.
Back to the hotel for a good night rest and prepare for race morning.  This involves quite a bit of watching weather forecasts....and second guessing myself several times on the most appropriate weather related outfit.  Oh, and most importantly, prepping my race shirt with my bib and the names of those I was running in honor and memory of.  Unfortunately, the list is getting much too long to wear with each event, but a full list can be found on the Tribute Wall within this blog.


Staying dry at the start
As is typical on race day for me, we were welcomed with clouds and scattered showers.  We pulled on throwaway ponchos and headed for our corral.  I was placed in a faster corral due to my previous race times, however, I had decided some time ago that I was sticking with Katie throughout the entire race.  She tried to get me to run my own race, but this particular race meant more to me than running yet another 13.1 at the same time I had the previous 16.

No, this was about accomplishing something with a friend that never left my side when I was doing something new - biking.  Katie NEVER considered peeling off from me.  She made sure I was doing ok throughout the ride, kept me company and gave me advise along the way.  I had no idea what all those gears were for....she educated me along the way.

It was payback time.

We chatted about a million different topics, did the run/walk Galloway method, high-fived kids, danced along with the bands on the course, made each other laugh, and 13.1 miles later.....we FINISHED!

Katie's first half marathon....showing cancer who is she continues to LIVESTRONG!  One of my proudest finishes EVER!

Next up for me?  The North Shore Half Marathon in the Chicago suburb, Highland Park.....home of Ferris Bueller.  I doubt we will be running through backyards and hurtling hedges like Ferris did....but how appropriate to be RunningStrong for Hope to benefit LIVESTRONG in the town this movie was filmed.  A film that definitely is about living life to it's fullest.

I'm slowly but surely approaching my $7,000 goal for June......please consider donating any little bit you can....maybe forgo dinner or a movie?
Click here to donate to Barb's fundraising efforts for LIVESTRONG

One of my favorite signs in Pittsburgh......and I think many of my friends would agree this probably applies to me as I race 13.1 miles each month.

1 comment:

  1. What a great experience all around. Love the sign!