Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Planking Strong for Hope

This past weekend I participated in the LIVESTRONG Austin Half Marathon as a member of Team LIVESTRONG.  I was honored to be asked to serve as the fundraising mentor for this team, which allowed me to get to know many of the runners beforehand.

The stories shared with me were so inspiring.    Many members of the team are cancer survivors - one currently in the middle of his battle.  What can be more inspiring than that?  Really....putting up a courageous battle for your life and WINNING?  Then deciding to tackle a very hilly run of 13.1 or 26.2 miles?  Talk about inspiring!

The weekend was kicked off with a Team brunch and an opportunity to hear Amy Dodson share her incredible story of cancer survival....she is a major cancer warrior in my book.  Amy lost a leg to cancer - as well as survived lung cancer after being given a 10% chance of survival.  She didn't let this stop her...she runs marathons and ultras, competes in triathlons....and at an elite athlete level.  I highly encourage you to read more about her at http://blog.livestrong.org/2010/04/23/amy-dodson-one-leg-one-lung-100-miles/.

Amy Dodson
She talked about her illness being a gift. Without her illness, she wouldn't have discovered her gift of running.

This hit a chord with me. As much as I hate that cancer stole so many of my loved ones, if it weren't for cancer, I wouldn't be involved with LIVESTRONG....and I wouldn't have many of the incredible friends I have....and I wouldn't have started running again.
Livestrong friend and I with Amy after race
Which gets me back to my involvement this weekend.  I raised close to $2,500 for LIVESTRONG by race day....and I'm not done....my goal for the year continues to be $15,000.

Along the way I decided I would "earn" donations by completing a plank at each mile if I raised $1,000.  I participate in the Plank A Day Revolution on Twitter, so I thought it would be a great idea to spread the word about the benefits of planking (strengthening your core and back - something runners are very much lacking in and creates injuries) while having fun raising money for LIVESTRONG.

Mission accomplished.  A bit to easily I may add.  I still had 45 days until the race and needed to come up with something to do for another milestone.  So, I decided I would complete a plank each mile while running in a pink tutu.  Those that know me well, know that although I like to have fun, I am not one to run with a lot of baggage.  I don't race with an ipod and I only carry what can fit in that little zippered pocket on the back of my shorts. Running in a tutu has never been a "bucket-list" item.

I think I set my goal too low...$2,000 for a tutu was easily reached....and I was suddenly on the search for a running tutu.  Glam Runners had just what I needed.  A shout out to them for their fantastic service AND the proceeds from the sales of these tutus goes to Girls on the Run - an organization that provides education and support for healthy living.  So, you donated to LIVESTRONG, which made me purchase a tutu from Glam Runners, who then donated to Girls on the Run......a win/win for everyone!  This was made personally for me, fantastic and quick service.  And, light as can be...not cumbersome at all.  That being said, I'm not going to become a regular tutu runner....unless of course it means more money raised for LIVESTRONG.....and if you'd like me to wear a tutu again, consider making a donation.   Donate to support Barb's LIVESTRONG efforts

One of several run-ins with Bart Yasso...I suspect he thought we were following him we ran into him so often

The weekend was a true LIVESTRONG fix for me....just what I needed.  Being surrounded by others that get it...that have been impacted by cancer and have also decided to turn their passion for running into a personal battle against cancer.  Not to mention having the opportunity to meet and talk with Bart Yasso a few times (he was staying at our hotel), as well as receive a high five from him as I crossed the finish line.

This was not a race for time....certainly not if I planned to plank each mile.  This was the LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon and Half Marathon.  Everyone involved was there because cancer had impacted their life in some way.   Typically, at the Team LIVESTRONG marathon events, we are just a small group among tens of thousands of people.  This weekend, the tens of thousands were all there to run and support LIVESTRONG.

I lined up in the back with a great friend I met during a Chicago Marathon Team LIVESTRONG event - and coincidentally is friends with a friend of mine from grade/high school (small world connections abound in the LIVESTRONG world.  We both were undertrained to push ourselves to the limit for this race for a vairiety of reasons but due to taking time off after fall Team LIVESTRONG marathons.  She agreed to be my "official planking photographer" for no charge at all.

The Tutu Planking for Hope through Austin.....

The pre-race plank warm-up

At the start corral

Mile 11 (no mile marker)
Mile 12 (no mile marker)
At the finish line
 Donate to Barb's LIVESTRONG efforts

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