Thursday, October 31, 2013

Notes From The Foot Whisperer: Welcome Autumn and All That Comes With It!

Is it already November? Not sure whether I hate the cold more or the darkness! I swear yours truly has Seasonal Affective Disorder. But nonetheless, it’s time to put on that extra layer of apparel, get plenty of reflective and/or light-emitting items, and head out for a cool Autumn run.

Fall is a tough time to run in many respects because of the varied temperatures throughout a given week or even a day. I’ve found that the tried and true layering still seems to work the best. With that in mind, you may still want to check with Dennis Bowman on the forecast, as cold fronts blow though quickly. And, of course, make sure someone knows where you are running, and how far you are planning to run. I also like to carry my cell phone in my SpiBelt. Just in case.

To give our cold weather runners a little break (And to provide yours truly with no more excuses for not doing evening runs!), Up-N-Running has decided to change our hours , going along with the end of Daylight Savings. So starting November 4, our new hours will be Monday Through Friday, 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Saturday and Sunday hours will remain the same at 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Saturday. And 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM Sunday. These hours will run until we get back to Daylight Savings in March.

Don’t forget to change your clocks this weekend. And it has always been a custom in the Foot Whisperer household to change smoke alarm batteries at that time.

See you on the run!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Notes From The Foot Whisperer: The Joys of a Half Marathon

Half marathons are such attractive races for so many reasons. Training-wise, the time put towards a full marathon versus a half marathon seems to be exponential. Race-wise, that fatigue element, normally doesn’t even come in to play when running a half marathon. I ran three full marathons before running my first Half. It just happened that way. And it was so relieving to cross the finish line, and have no lingering fatigue or achiness. And probably the neatest thing about a half marathon, is that just about anyone who runs, can run a half. And it still has the word, “marathon” attached to it.

Last Saturday, October 19, a thousand people came out to run the 8th Annual Buffalo Creek Half Marathon. What a fun time, not only for the participants. But also for the volunteers. And yours truly got to ham it up as the MC. Just standing there and witnessing some of the most inspiring people to cross the finish line, as well as some very close friends who inspire me daily. It was a privilege!

The men’s winner, Nick Eddinger, ran a masterful race, crossing the finish line with a new course record. The women’s record was also broken by Sara Raschiatore, who held the former record. Both won cash prizes as record breakers.

We were honored with a visit at the finish line by a friend of the Butler-Freeport Rails to Trails, Rick Davanzatti. Please everyone keep Rick in your prayers as he is quite ill.

The proceeds of this event all goes towards the maintenance and extension of the rails to trails. And who knows? Maybe one day, we will have a full marathon on the Butler-Freeport Rails To Trails!! And hopefully, I’ll continue to be the “Ham behind the mike!”

Happy running!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Guest Blog - Running For Their Lives: How a personal loss inspired Joe to run the extra mile for cancer research and treatment.

I grew up in a small town in Indiana. When I was 4 years old, I met my best friend. Ben had 2 younger sisters and a few years later, his youngest sister, Abi, was born.

Abi brightened any room she was in. With a smile from ear to ear and a wonderful singing voice, she was a truly a joy to be around. She went to school to study horses, but found she missed interacting with people. She later became a greeter at Wal-Mart. Her co-workers tell stories about how she could cheer up any customer who walked in the door with just her smile and a friendly hello. She constantly went out of her way to talk with anyone and everyone who seemed to be having a bad day. She always put her own bad days aside to help those around her.

Truly, the most selfless person I ever knew.

In June of 2011, Abi went to the doctor complaining of leg pain. At first the doctor wrote it off as a lymphedema (a condition in which fluid is not carried away from a specific part of the body). She was told to find a good physical therapist and begin treatment. After working with her therapist, she was told that a CAT scan was recommended. The CAT scan revealed what we all feared, but never spoke. A tumor. After running a biopsy, we found out it was a rare (but treatable) form of sarcoma called Extraskeletal Ewing’s Sarcoma. This was a shock because that specific form of cancer was so rare and usually attacks the very young. At 21 years old, Abi took this challenge face on and was determined not to let this get her down. She literally looked death in the face and smiled.

By November of 2011, the tumor had not responded to the chemotherapy Abi's doctors had put her on. There was talk of surgery to remove the tumor. This, however, was very risky as they had no idea if the tumor was intertwined with the surrounding blood vessels of the leg. Abi smiled and reminded us all that God gave her 2 legs. Luckily, the surgery was a success and Abi was able to keep her leg.

Though it all, Abi smiled.

In February of 2012, after several months of remission, Abi was rushed to the hospital, presumably pneumonia. The scans reveal that the cancer had returned with a vengeance and had a strong hold in both of her lungs. She was put back on chemotherapy and medication to battle the blood clots associated with the infection in her lungs. It was at this time the doctors had to tell this sweet 22 year old that she was fighting a battle she could not win. Abi, with no fear and no regrets, continued living her life. Day by day. Hour by hour.

And through it all, she smiled.

In March of 2012, Abi was rushed to the hospital for what appeared to be a stroke. Scans revealed that the cancer had spread to her brain. This, in combination with the blood thinners to battle the clots, did not bode well. When she was not in the hospital for chemotherapy, she was there to have blot clots removed, and when she was not there for that, she was there to have fluid drained from her lungs. At this point, the doctors gave her a month to live.

On March 23rd, 2012, I flew back to Indiana to visit Abi and the family I had known since I was 4. For a very brief time, we were all kids again. Laughing and playing, joking and singing. It was as if time never moved.

That Sunday I flew back to Los Angeles, and the following Tuesday, I got the call. That Thursday, I was back on a plane for the funeral.

Now Abi looks down on all of us. And she is smiling.

That May, I joined Team in Training (TNT). An amazing fundraising program with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). As a participant, you train for endurance events such as marathons and triathlons, while fundraising for new research grants.

I was never a runner. At one point, I was pushing 300 pounds. Could I run a marathon? Screw it. This is for Abi.

Originally, I was signed up to run The Disneyland Half Marathon, but ended up switching to The Nike Women Full in San Francisco. This race was being held on October 14th. This would have been Abi's 23rd birthday. I could not think of a more perfect situation for my first race.

I trained hard, made so many new friends, and learned so much about myself during that time.

The day of the race came. I was as ready as I could be. I always tell people that the only way to be prepared for running a full marathon, is to have actually already ran one. I had no idea what to expect. I met so many amazing people on the race course. Cancer survivors, runners who lost loved ones, a couple who lost their baby girl, and people who just enjoy running. I felt amazing. Then, The Wall. It hit at about mile 17. Hard. I pushed with every amount of physical and mental strength I had to keep going. I found my greatest encouragement came from encouraging the other struggling runners around me (a practice I still do to this day).

On this particular race course there was an out and back with a loop around a lake. When I got to the lake, the race officials told me I had missed the cut-off and needed to skip the lake. I was devastated. Luckily, there was a TNT coach from another chapter who ran beside me. He reminded me that this was my first ever race and that to tackle a full marathon is no small feat. I had done the training. I had fundraised close to $4,000. I was running a marathon. 26.2 miles or 23.2 miles, it was still an amazing accomplishment.

I ran the race with a picture of Abi on my back, at mile 25.5, I took it off my back and ran across the finish line with Abi's picture held high above my head.

As I ran past all the spectators, teammates, and friends, I could not not help but break down into tears. Someone I grew up with and loved, was gone. And here I was doing something incredible in her honor. It was too much. Even now (one year later) as I am writing this, I have to wipe away tears. I remember people cheering, then reading the words on Abi's picture, then smiling at me. I remember my teammate and friend, JoeAnn (who had ran the half) running out to me. All the said was "Abi is right here with you and she is so proud."

As I approached the finish line, I could hear Coach Ed's advice on what do to when you cross. "Just remember to smile" With what little emotional. mental, and physical energy I had left, and I smiled.

I crossed that finish line, full of love, joy, accomplishment, and sorrow. Once it finally dawned on me what I had just done, I felt amazing. Not physically. I mean, I just ran a freaking marathon! I felt like I could do anything! Even more marathons!! I felt alive. More alive than I have ever felt before in my life. It was then that I realized, I had done something bigger than myself. I had raised money to help save lives. I had pushed myself to a level of life that would ensure I was not wasting what little time we have. I had honored Abi in a way that made her proud.

I wanted, no, NEEDED to do it again.

In November, I took a job in Vancouver, Canada. The first thing I did was find the local TNT chapter. I became a team mentor, a way for me to help others achieve that amazing feeling I felt at the end of every race.

I continued to train. From October 14th, 2012 to October 14th 2013, I have ran a total of 2 full marathons and 7 half marathons, and raised over $12,000 towards cancer reasearch and treatment.

My story does not end there. This year, I am raising money for LLS by challenging myself even further. The Disney World Goofy Challenge. There's nothing Goofy about Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge! Its 39.3 miles and two-days of pure fun and Disney magic. Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge combines Saturday's Half Marathon – over 13.1 miles with Sunday's full Marathon which covers 26.2 miles through all four Walt Disney World Theme Parks.

I chose this race because of it's difficulty. Everyday, thousands of people suffer from their battles with cancer. Compared to this,my suffering on the course(s) of The Goofy Challenge will be next to nothing.

To help me in my fight against cancer please visit my fundraising page:

To find a local TNT chapter near you please visit:

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. It means so much to know that Abi's story is being shared. I know she is looking down on all of us..... and smiling.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Notes From The Foot Whisperer - Buffalo Creek Half Marathon

Hi all! Lots to catch up on. And lots of new things at Up-N-Running. As many of you know, the Eighth Annual Buffalo Creek Half Marathon will take place on Saturday, October 19. The race starts at the Winfield Township Fire Hall, and runs mostly on the Butler-Freeport Rails to Trails into Freeport. This down hill point-to-point half marathon has really taken off! And all for a good cause. The proceeds of this event help to maintain and add onto the current Butler-Freeport Rails to Trails. This year, we have a starter mat, and an additional 250 runners. As usual, yours truly will be the Master of Ceremonies, calling out as many of your names as I can when you are crossing the finish line. It is a blast! Not only for the runners. But for the volunteers as well. And although I’ll be a bit hoarse when it is over, I still get a kick out of the entire ordeal! (One of these days, I plan on running in it! Shhhh……Don’t tell the rest of the volunteers!).

In past years, we have tried to make race packet pickup as seamless as possible. And to an extent, we have done well in that effort. But to make it even easier, we plan on having early pickup on Thursday and Friday (October 17 and 18) here at Up-N-Running. It will be from 10:00 am till 7:00 pm both days. And of course, there will be refreshments and lots of pre-race deals on shoes and apparel!

And you have to see our new L.A.B. Half Marathon shirts! Lazlo will be there to greet everyone. And check out his Breast Cancer Awareness Month bandana!

See you at Buffalo Creek!