Letter to my supporters!

Dear Contributors, Family, Friends, Colleagues:

There has been a lot of heated chatter the last few days regarding the 2012 ING NYC Marathon. Now that it’s cancelled, I am hoping you don’t feel as though your donation was wasted this year! Your funds and moral support are still contributing to a worthy cause that I believe in. The American Cancer Society helps fund research for a cure and provides direct care to those fighting cancer.

Through my fundraising and training this season, I’ve met many survivors and fighters who are grateful to all of us for what we’ve accomplished. For example, just a few weeks ago when I was on my way to do a long run in Prospect Park wearing my American Cancer Society “DetermiNation” shirt, a woman named Sheila stopped me to thank me for running for the American Cancer Society and that she fought and beat lung cancer 20 years ago – and then, she hugged me.

The American Cancer Society has helped me do something great for people and I am proud to be a part of the team and so grateful to all of you for making that possible. Not only that, you have all helped me fight for my own health too… It’s something to be very proud of.
So, now what? The American Cancer Society has deferred my entry to the 2013 ING NYC Marathon with no fundraising minimum required. I WILL do this race and wear all the ribbons in honor of all of those I’ve promised. I also am currently shopping for an official marathon to join in the next month or two. The most important take away is that I am committed to sticking with my exercise and lifestyle change. You are all a part of that excitement! You have all given me (and others) the gift of life!
But, there’s more to share. In the wake of the hurt, pain and recovery efforts here in the NYC area – my team and I have decided to run 26.2 miles this Sunday – because we’ve trained for it and we can! We are trying to use this effort on Sunday to spread awareness and raise funds for the American Red Cross. Already, my team has raised over $2,500. If you are able, I would love for you to be a part of our run this Sunday in Prospect Park. My family will be relaying the marathon with me, one loop at a time.
To check out our fundraising progress, visit the page here. If you are in the area – consider coming out to Prospect Park with some cow-bell cheer! All waves begin at 8am at the loop by Grand Army Plaza.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all your support during this difficult time. It has truly been a wildly enjoyable and humbling experience.
All my best,

7 days


With Halloween around the corner and Frankenstorm (a.k.a., Hurricane Sandy) looming, I can’t help but think how scared I am that the ING NYC Marathon is just 7 days away. SEVEN DAYS!

As scared as I am right now – I am clinging to the strong believe that I have got this marathon under my belt already. I got it!

How could I not? I have so much support. My friend from High School will be in town, staying with me, to do the marathon as well for Team McGraw. Liz has done 5 marathons and many triathlons, so she’s practically an expert and staying with me – at MY house. She’s really had faith in me all along, so having her here with me will be such a bonus for my moral as well! My brother is also coming in town to support me. This is the first time he’s come to visit me in NYC! He’s also a runner who has had incredible faith in me. So, this is also good!

And speaking of support, I have 82 donors who believe in me, 82 donors who have also helped me raise almost $4,000 for the American Cancer Society! I have incredible purpose for my run. No matter how hard my run is, this is going to be much easier than battling cancer.

Even more, I also have incredible coaches and teammates that believe in me. I have many volunteers who will be there cheering me on during the race. Most importantly, I believe in myself. So this superstitious feeling I have about “7 days” is all for nothing.  In just 7 days, I will be able to say that I’ve completed a marathon. I will be part of the 5% of the US Population and 2% of the world’s population to ever complete a marathon.

For anyone in the NYC area, I hope you will come cheer me on. Expected times / locations are below (thanks to the JackRabbit spectator guide).  Also, it’s not too late to donate to the American Cancer Society. I am less than $100 from raising $4,000. To make a donation, please visit:  http://bit.ly/xahndra.

Image Credit:
The Ring. Digital image. IMDb. DreamWorks Pictures, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. .


Athena demonstrates how I will be spending the rest of my day…

Last night I tossed and turned all night. I had such trouble sleeping knowing I would be forcing myself to hit at least 16 – 18 miles (with a secret desire to hit 20). When it was finally time to wake up, I sprung up from my bed. The quicker I could get started, the sooner I would be done.

I met with my fellow teammates at Prospect Park in Brooklyn. It was cold, so I wore my long sleeved running shirt for the first time. Everyone had plans to run 18 – 20 miles. All of my teammates did 20-21 miles, but I only managed to do 18.

It’s okay though; I spent 4 hours and 14 minutes running on my feet. Who does that??? I do!

So big news! I did my largest mileage and stayed on my feet the longest I have all season… wait, not just all season – but all my life! If that’s not news enough, here’s more. I also beat my Staten Island Half Marathon time! I ran 13.1 of my miles today in 2 hours, 58 minutes and 18 seconds. I guess I have 2 personal records today! 🙂

The only downside for me is that I still need to do one more long run before I am allowed to taper. Basically, the rest of my teammates haven’t had any problem hitting their 20 miler today, so they can taper. Since I did not hit 20, I will be hitting the streets again next Saturday on a quest for my 20. I am glad for the practice though, I know it will make me stronger for marathon day!

With all the progress on running, I am at a stand-still on fundraising. I haven’t had a single donation since the end of September. I am really hoping that I can just edge a little closer to the $5,000 that I would like to raise for the American Cancer Society. If you are a reader who wouldn’t mind making a small contribution, please feel free to visit my fundraising page: http://bit.ly/xahndra.

Now that I got all of that off my chest, I have to admit – I am exhausted. It’s time for me to relax with my puppy, Athena. Since it’s so chilly outside and  I refuse to turn on my heat yet – I will be spending the afternoon snuggled up in my down blanket until it’s acceptable for me to go to bed. Athena (pictured) is demonstrating.

My latest blog post on the CUNY School of Professional Studies Community Blog

Welcome to the CUNY SPS Office of Student Services

In less than 4 weeks, I will be standing in Staten Island waiting for the start of the 2012 ING NYC Marathon with great anticipation. This is what I have been working so hard for over the last 5 months. It started with giving up a pack of Marlboro Lights a day and my commitment to fight for my health. Even though 5 months seems like a very long time, it’s almost a blink of an eye compared to the events over the last 2 weeks since my last post, “The Final Countdown.”

On September 29th, I ran with my team at Prospect Park with a brand new pair of running shoes, shoes that I call my “ruby-red-running-slippers.” I had special ordered these shoes in this special red color to match my American Cancer Society DetermiNation blue and red jersey. And special they are! Wearing them for the…

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Potty Plan

At the start of the Staten Island Half

In just 27 days, I will be standing in Staten Island, waiting for the 2012 ING NYC Marathon start.YIKES! What will it be like? How will I feel?

I tasted 50% worth of what that might feel like when I stood in Staten Island this weekend for the Staten Island Half-Marathon. With racers all around me, I was anxious for the race to start. After the sound of the ferry-boat horn, we were off… and then there would be no turning back. Once I start a race, I know I will do everything I can so that I finish.

Believe it or not, getting to that race starting point was really half the battle. The night before, I left my keys at work – irretrievably. By the time I got into my home, it was well after midnight and past my bedtime for the night before a race. AND, the anxiety then began. I woke up the next morning at 4 a.m. so that I could eat a hearty breakfast and make it to the 6:30 a.m. Ferry from Whitehall Street in Manhattan to Staten Island. I was tired, groggy and I’ll admit, a grumpy monkey.

Runners commandeer the Staten Island Ferry on a special 6:30 a.m. trip for the half-marathon.

I love and hate watching the mass exodus of runners heading to the start of a race. I can’t explain, but I relish in the excitement of joining all the runners while anticipate the start of the race at the same time with apprehension. Also, seeing all the runners, I feel like I’m a spectator among Olympians. Basically, I am always fighting the feeling that I am out of my league.

Once I made it off the ferry, nerves took me right to the restroom. I wasn’t sure if it was because I drank enough water to get me through a few days in the desert or because of the nerves. Perhaps a combination of both! I suspected mainly because I drank too much water. I am not running in the summer heat anymore; so my hydrated body doesn’t need to drink that much water before a race. (Noted)

A few more things hit me once I reached the bag check. It looked like rain. Bag check had no cover, which meant that all the contents of my bag were going to be soaked in a heartbeat if the rain started to come down. I also noticed that I was incredibly cold in my running outfit. I hadn’t packed a change of dry (warm) clothes. I was not prepared for a cold run. (Noted)

FINALLY, I ran into a few of my American Cancer Society DetermiNation teammates. I hate a great time conversing with Charlie and Stephanie (brother and sister). They made me laugh, smile and feel at ease. Charlie told me a story from our coach from the first time he did a marathon. Coach Ramon told Charlie to quit standing around and doing nothing before a race. He said that if there was nothing better to do, go stand in line to use the restroom. He said, after you use the restroom, go to the back of the line and wait to use the rest room again. We laughed and laughed as Charlie told the story (trust me, it was funnier coming from him). Even though I was chuckling, I immediately got into the bathroom line at the end of his story. Guess what – twice! Who knew how relevant this story would be for me on this race day!

After the second wait to use the restroom, it was literally minutes before the start of the race. I had to fight through thousands and thousands of people to get to the back of the line with everyone else wearing a bib in the 9,000’s.  Finally, I made it! … and finally the ferry blow horn! … and finally the crowd slowly moving toward the start! …and finally, the race begins! Half of the battle was over for the Staten Island Half.

So, everything was going smoothly now and I knew I would complete the race. I felt at ease, happy even. Until I hit the second mile and realized that I needed to use the restroom – AGAIN!

Inner monologue: Clearly I am drinking too much water. I am not used to the cool runs where you aren’t sweating so much. I need to adjust my plan… but it’s too late to think about that now, I need a restroom!

So at mile 3, I stopped. There were 4 people in line. I thought how that wasn’t too many people and it would be a wise decision to stop now. I figured as the race went on, the lines would be worse. I thought for sure I would zip in and out.  I could not have been more

Yup, that’s a medal!

wrong. It took me nearly 8 minutes to use the restroom. By that time, everyone had passed me and I was literally the absolute last person in the run! Even worse, after mile 3 – there was no such thing as a line to use the restroom. #FAIL! Who knew I would need a “potty plan?” Well, now I am all the wiser!

The New York Road Runners indicated on the race information that they would only be timing for 3 hours. By the time I got to the 10K point of the race (and thankfully passed it), they had begun taking down the timing mat. I resolved that I would not make it in the 3 hours and that I would be okay with that. My goal was simply to complete this race. I didn’t need the “finisher” title. (This is what I told myself, and I believed it.)

But, I’ll be raw with you. I was talking myself out of sadness because I knew I would have no idea what my time would be for this race. I plan to run and run and run and run for the rest of my life. I would really like to know what my official time is for my very first half-marathon ever. Is that too sentimental? Is it too much to ask? I spent almost $100 on a Timex GPS watch, that did not record properly. MapMyRun is so off, now by 3 – 4 miles ahead. And to boot, when I passed the start – the clock was all jumbled – I couldn’t see what number to subtract from the official clock to see what my time was – – but who knew if that clock would even be there by the time I got to the finish.

As I ran, I started passing people. 1, then 2, then a group of 4… I felt strong. I wasn’t too tired. My feet were hurting, but I didn’t care. I kept going. I didn’t want to stop. It started to rain. I started to sing the version of “Singing in the Rain” that my mentor, Dawn, and I sang the last time we ran (and sung) together while in the rain. I was happy. I was thanking the police officers along the way to the finish for guarding the course, thanking the people cheering me on, smiling, happy – euphoric! I really didn’t care about finishing with a time anymore. I was loving my moment in the rain, in Staten Island and on the course. In the very last moments of the race, I had at least half a dozen American Cancer Society DetermiNation teammates and coaches waiting for me and two more of my teammates who hadn’t finished the race yet. The were cheering so passionately for me! The excitement and happiness forced my eyes to well-up in tears! Don’t make me cry! At that point, I turned around a corner down a small hill to the finish – and there was my mentor, Dawn, with a few more teammates cheering me on. Dawn ran with me for a few seconds to encourage me and let me know how proud of me she was and then she encouraged me to press hard to that finish and let me finish that on my own. I was so happy, so overwhelmed.

And guess what, the clock was STILL there! I have my official time. All that worry for nothing, right? So, for today only, I am celebrating my medal and finish for the Staten Island Half-Marathon at 3 hours, 4 minutes and 11 seconds. After today, I have to get back on track and start thinking about the big day – the ING NYC Marathon on November 4th in just 27 short days!

Please feel free to support me and my journey to the ING NYC Marathon by supporting the American Cancer Society through my campaign link here:  http://bit.ly/xahndra.

The Little Engine that Could, or WILL!

My Ruby Red (Running) Slippers

Joining the American Cancer Society DetermiNation team has been such a wonderful game-changer for me. I am capable of so much more than “average.” Would you believe me if I told you I ran for 3 hours and 32 minutes yesterday? True story!

After last Tuesday’s practice with my team in Central Park, I learned that I blew through my running shoes faster than I could have ever imagined. So, I went to my wardrobe and pulled out the pair of shoes I had special ordered specifically for the ING NYC Marathon… My Ruby Red Running Slippers, the Saucony kind. I tried them on at the store in a different color and special ordered the red for race day. Since I wore out my shoes, it was time to switch. My coaches said now was a good time to switch too because I will have one month to break them in.

I love my Brooklyn American Cancer Society DetermiNation coaches & teammates!

So, I laced them up and met my teammates & coaches at Prospect Park this Saturday for our usual long run. The weather was a little chilly – probably the coldest run I’ve had so far in my training. I went in with a positive attitude, owning the fact that my last run was so bad because my running shoes should have been retired. That is the reason that my feet and ankles hurt. I can do a marathon, and so today – I am going to hit a milestone. Yup, that’s right!!! I have magic slippers… and they will help my feet glide over the pavement, one step at a time!

I was aiming to at least beat a half-marathon. So far, the most I had done was a questionable 13 miles. I say questionable, because I have learned that the MapMyRun app is not 100% accurate. So this time, I ran a distance that I 100% knew how long it was so I could be sure. At Prospect Park, you have 2 choices. You can run the straight loops which are 3 miles, or you can run what my teammate (and mentor), Dawn, calls a “crazy 8.”  The crazy 8’s add mileage so that the completed 8 is 4.6 miles. So, I did 3 crazy 8’s and thus put 13.9 miles under my belt!

I attribute this new milestone with a couple of things: I have been practicing, and I am getting stronger! I am part of a fabulous team with dedicated coaches and passionate teammates. I had incredibly good company (Thanks again, Dawn)! And last, but not least… I had magic ruby red slippers!!!! It was as though I clicked my heels three times and POOF, the run was done…

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t quite as magical as that. But I do feel as though this long run was magical! The magic is the transformation this run had on me. This run helped me have a little bit more faith in myself. Just like one of my favorite childhood stories, I am the little engine that could get up the hill (or complete a marathon), “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!” I can’t wait to write my first blog after this race so that I can say, “I knew I could, I knew I could, I knew I could!”

The Final Countdown

Welcome to the CUNY SPS Office of Student Services

Does anyone remember what the feeling is like when you are on your way to school and you realized that you forgot your homework assignment at home? I had that heavy pit in my stomach last night at practice. A fellow American Cancer Society DetermiNator reminded me that we have just 4 weeks left of training before the big day in just 39 days. Race day will be here before I know it. Am I prepared? Can I do this? I’ll just say it, I am scared!

I hurried to practice yesterday evening straight from work, meeting up with my daughter and my puppy along the way. Pix11 was waiting there to interview me, hear my story, and meet my daughter and dog. As the official media partner for the American Cancer Society DetermiNation athletes for the ING NYC Marathon, they wanted to learn more about me. Who is…

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Looking for Cowbell Cheers

Welcome to the CUNY SPS Office of Student Services

On Your Mark, Get Set…. Go!!!

Last Sunday, I joined the CUNY School of Professional Studies “Race for the Cure” team comprised of students, faculty, and staff. Being with our team of over 20-strong was such an emotional high for me. All dressed in our CUNY SPS blue shirts, we (and our mascot, Lex the Lynx) made quite an impression! I was proud to be standing with our school and overwhelmed at the same time with the sea of pink supporters out to fight breast cancer with us.

The Challenge

So race day finally arrived and I was eager to attempt the personal (and fairly public) challenge I gave myself:  to beat my best 5K time. Why did I go with the public part? Was I over-confident? Was it for accountability? Well, it’s accountability that forces me to report that not only did I #FAIL to beat my last…

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I Really Want to Fall in Love

Welcome to the CUNY SPS Office of Student Services

Before a run, I wake up—excited… Usually it’s about 4 a.m. and I begin forcing myself to eat some oatmeal and a spoonful of peanut butter. I am anxious to leave the house, but I take my time filling up my water bottle, eating my breakfast and dressing for my big run. My mind wonders over every laborious bite of food. Is today the day that I will fall in love?

Okay, I am going to be honest. Please forget what I am about to say after you read it. I am so embarrassed to admit, I do not like running, not one bit! Even so, every time I tie up my laces and head out; I am hanging on to a glimmer of hope. Today will be the day that I magically turn into a real runner!

I see real runners every time I go out for my runs…

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Running for the Cure: Fundraising 101

Welcome to the CUNY SPS Office of Student Services

With the start of the Fall 2012 semester this week, those of us who took the summer off are quickly reminded of the juggling we will need to do in order to maintain our family responsibilities and jobs. Schedules need to be re-arranged, social outings declined or cancelled, and sometimes we have to ask others for help. I’ve already had to ask my brother to spend time with Athena, my daughter’s Chihuahua, because we are both keeping long days with work and school, and in my case, training for the marathon too.

Asking for help has become a new talent of mine. It is how I have been able to raise over $2,500 for the American Cancer Society and how reaching the goal of $3,500 is attainable. Since the CUNY School of Professional Studies has an opportunity to fundraise for Komen’s Race for the Cure, I thought it would…

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