Tami In Training

My friend Basia was diagnosed with leukemia a few months ago. She's training for the half marathon in January, and I'm next to her every step of the way. Well, trying to be. She's pretty fast. In addition to running way more than I ever have in my life, I'm raising money for the amazing work that the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society does. If you'd like to donate, please click here

Nov 24
Meet Basia
  

That’s her in the middle, sandwiched between me and our fellow teammate, Marisa.  In the background is the George Washington bridge, which the three of us had just run across as part of our 10K race Saturday morning.  I ran my first 10k about a month ago (this one) with the very unimpressive time of 1 hour and 26 minutes (more than twice as long as it took for Jessica Schultz, the female winner of the race).  This time I finished twelve minutes faster, which is still unimpressive to the running world, and completely thrilling to me (less than twice as slow as Jessica Schultz!).  Not that it’s a competition or anything, but Basia is much faster than me.  She’s also a rock-and-roll British stylist, does a ton of cat rescue work, and a good friend.  Here is some of her story (and why she’s doing this half marathon) in her own words:
As many of you already know, I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) at the end of May this year but to my delight, I am doing incredibly well, back at work styling, firing on all four cylinders and continuing with my cat rescue work. This is primarily as a result of all the hard work and fund-raising of TNT people who went before me, as I am lucky enough to have a simple daily treatment of a little pill and sometimes I pinch myself at how lucky I am. It’s nuts.
So, feeling ok physically but rather adrift and alone in all of this new medical information, I decided to walk into the HQ of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and found myself having signed up for the maddest caper I’ve ever been daft enough to get involved in. I am training to run a half marathon. Hahahaha, me? Who hasn’t even run for a bus in years? In a hot state, Arizona? I must be out of my mind.
It’s an endurance event and I’m a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training. Hundreds of us are raising funds to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives. I am completing (note, not attempting) this event in gratitude to those who have run before me and helped me live a better life , and in honour of my wonderful mother Grazyna Zamorksa who had breast cancer and is doing great, and my dear friend Jackie Farry who has Multiple Myeloma and are both a huge inspiration to me.
Now if I can raise money to help find a cure for those who are still to be diagnosed, and those who are less fortunate than me, then all the sweat and sneakers will have been worth it.

Meet Basia

That’s her in the middle, sandwiched between me and our fellow teammate, Marisa.  In the background is the George Washington bridge, which the three of us had just run across as part of our 10K race Saturday morning.  I ran my first 10k about a month ago (this one) with the very unimpressive time of 1 hour and 26 minutes (more than twice as long as it took for Jessica Schultz, the female winner of the race).  This time I finished twelve minutes faster, which is still unimpressive to the running world, and completely thrilling to me (less than twice as slow as Jessica Schultz!).  Not that it’s a competition or anything, but Basia is much faster than me.  She’s also a rock-and-roll British stylist, does a ton of cat rescue work, and a good friend.  Here is some of her story (and why she’s doing this half marathon) in her own words:

As many of you already know, I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) at the end of May this year but to my delight, I am doing incredibly well, back at work styling, firing on all four cylinders and continuing with my cat rescue work. This is primarily as a result of all the hard work and fund-raising of TNT people who went before me, as I am lucky enough to have a simple daily treatment of a little pill and sometimes I pinch myself at how lucky I am. It’s nuts.

So, feeling ok physically but rather adrift and alone in all of this new medical information, I decided to walk into the HQ of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and found myself having signed up for the maddest caper I’ve ever been daft enough to get involved in. I am training to run a half marathon. Hahahaha, me? Who hasn’t even run for a bus in years? In a hot state, Arizona? I must be out of my mind.

It’s an endurance event and I’m a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training. Hundreds of us are raising funds to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives. I am completing (note, not attempting) this event in gratitude to those who have run before me and helped me live a better life , and in honour of my wonderful mother Grazyna Zamorksa who had breast cancer and is doing great, and my dear friend Jackie Farry who has Multiple Myeloma and are both a huge inspiration to me.

Now if I can raise money to help find a cure for those who are still to be diagnosed, and those who are less fortunate than me, then all the sweat and sneakers will have been worth it.


Nov 10
 
 
 

FALL (-ing in love with New York)
I ran on Sunday through my neighborhood with Tulip.  No walking this time, just 37 minutes of running.  Progress!  Our group Saturday runs are no longer in Prospect Park — it’s our distance run, and our distances now take us across the Brooklyn Bridge and into the city.  I realized that I missed it, so today I ran around Prospect Park (3.35 miles) for my solo run and it was great.  The gorgeous fall colors, the gazebo, the pond.  So many beautiful distractions.    I feel so lucky that I get to live here, so grateful that this training process has helped me experience autumn here more fully.
I love this time of year, but I only discovered that two years ago.  That’s when I moved to New York after nearly a lifetime in Chicago and six years in Los Angeles that might as well have been a lifetime.   In Chicago the transition from summer to winter is swift and brutal.  You wake up one day to discover the leaves have changed, and the next week the branches are bare, as everyone braces for the cruel winter that lasts at least six months.  In LA it’s always palm trees and mud slides, the Santa Ana winds being the one signifier of change — and the Santa Anas are spooky, the air feels still and thinned out, then a gust of heat that rattles everyone’s equilibrium.  People walk around dazed and angry, and every once in awhile someone will talk of how the Santa Anas shake up the ions in the atmosphere, and like everyone else in LA I was comforted by pseudoscience psychobabble.  It’s reassuring, like when you drop your laptop in the toilet and then you hear that mercury is in retrograde, no wonder you’re having problems with mechanical items.  Or the time I wanted to punch a lady in the face for placing her sunglasses on the folding chair next to her at a crowded  meeting.  How dare she take up a needed chair?  As I clenched my fists and hunched my shoulders, glaring four letter epitaphs into the back of her head I remembered I had started Zoloft a week earlier and it was maybe making my thoughts a touch violent.  I got off the prescription that night.  It took me six years to leave L.A.
As soon as I came to New York I knew I was home.  When people asked me how I was doing, I’d rhapsodize about how well my dog was adjusting, how much he loved Brooklyn.  Bart, a ten year old Husky/Shepard mix, loved all the people and dogs everywhere, how everyone was so friendly, all the smells on garbage day.  He loved the sense of community, how he could go into the mom & pop stores with me, the change in seasons.  It only took me four months to realize I was talking about myself.  Except for the part about garbage day.
*photo of Prospect Park from the beautiful photography blog of jake dobkin

FALL (-ing in love with New York)

I ran on Sunday through my neighborhood with Tulip.  No walking this time, just 37 minutes of running.  Progress!  Our group Saturday runs are no longer in Prospect Park — it’s our distance run, and our distances now take us across the Brooklyn Bridge and into the city.  I realized that I missed it, so today I ran around Prospect Park (3.35 miles) for my solo run and it was great.  The gorgeous fall colors, the gazebo, the pond.  So many beautiful distractions.    I feel so lucky that I get to live here, so grateful that this training process has helped me experience autumn here more fully.

I love this time of year, but I only discovered that two years ago.  That’s when I moved to New York after nearly a lifetime in Chicago and six years in Los Angeles that might as well have been a lifetime.   In Chicago the transition from summer to winter is swift and brutal.  You wake up one day to discover the leaves have changed, and the next week the branches are bare, as everyone braces for the cruel winter that lasts at least six months.  In LA it’s always palm trees and mud slides, the Santa Ana winds being the one signifier of change — and the Santa Anas are spooky, the air feels still and thinned out, then a gust of heat that rattles everyone’s equilibrium.  People walk around dazed and angry, and every once in awhile someone will talk of how the Santa Anas shake up the ions in the atmosphere, and like everyone else in LA I was comforted by pseudoscience psychobabble.  It’s reassuring, like when you drop your laptop in the toilet and then you hear that mercury is in retrograde, no wonder you’re having problems with mechanical items.  Or the time I wanted to punch a lady in the face for placing her sunglasses on the folding chair next to her at a crowded  meeting.  How dare she take up a needed chair?  As I clenched my fists and hunched my shoulders, glaring four letter epitaphs into the back of her head I remembered I had started Zoloft a week earlier and it was maybe making my thoughts a touch violent.  I got off the prescription that night.  It took me six years to leave L.A.

As soon as I came to New York I knew I was home.  When people asked me how I was doing, I’d rhapsodize about how well my dog was adjusting, how much he loved Brooklyn.  Bart, a ten year old Husky/Shepard mix, loved all the people and dogs everywhere, how everyone was so friendly, all the smells on garbage day.  He loved the sense of community, how he could go into the mom & pop stores with me, the change in seasons.  It only took me four months to realize I was talking about myself.  Except for the part about garbage day.

*photo of Prospect Park from the beautiful photography blog of jake dobkin


Nov 7
Back In The Saddle!
Today’s training run was the unbelievable distance of eight miles.  What’s even more unbelievable is that I did it.  I have to confess that I’d fallen off the training regimen for a week and today was my first day back and I was scared.
The last practice I went to was a Wednesday night where we ran 5k as fast we could — and since this entry is already a bit confessional, here’s where I admit that I had a tough time that run, and just maybe shed a few tears of frustration too.  I wondered about that “wall” that marathoners talk about hitting at the 21 mile mark and if I’m the first person to hit the wall at the one and a half mile mark.  My time was also one of the slowest (38 minutes) and I just felt low.  Then Basia left town for a work assignment, and I struggled (and failed) to show up for practice without being accountable to her.  And with my not showing up came an onslaught of shame and regret, which still didn’t get me to put on my sneakers and hit the road.  I was feeling guiltier and guiltier, and retreating to my natural sloth when phew, Basia came back and I sucked it up and showed up and ran eight freaking miles. (well, 6 miles run and two miles walked.  Still proud!)
As our runs are getting longer, our coaches are having us practice eating during the workout.  Today was the first time I tried it, and discovered that the nastily named “Gu” gel (espresso flavored) is surprisingly delicious.  So that’s a plus.  Also, getting to spend a couple of hours outside during this bright blue-skied gorgeous autumn day running through Brooklyn is fantastic.  But really the best news is that I feel recommitted to this process, and excited not just to go back to practices but to my own runs with Tulip.
Eight miles!!

Back In The Saddle!

Today’s training run was the unbelievable distance of eight miles.  What’s even more unbelievable is that I did it.  I have to confess that I’d fallen off the training regimen for a week and today was my first day back and I was scared.

The last practice I went to was a Wednesday night where we ran 5k as fast we could — and since this entry is already a bit confessional, here’s where I admit that I had a tough time that run, and just maybe shed a few tears of frustration too.  I wondered about that “wall” that marathoners talk about hitting at the 21 mile mark and if I’m the first person to hit the wall at the one and a half mile mark.  My time was also one of the slowest (38 minutes) and I just felt low.  Then Basia left town for a work assignment, and I struggled (and failed) to show up for practice without being accountable to her.  And with my not showing up came an onslaught of shame and regret, which still didn’t get me to put on my sneakers and hit the road.  I was feeling guiltier and guiltier, and retreating to my natural sloth when phew, Basia came back and I sucked it up and showed up and ran eight freaking miles. (well, 6 miles run and two miles walked.  Still proud!)

As our runs are getting longer, our coaches are having us practice eating during the workout.  Today was the first time I tried it, and discovered that the nastily named “Gu” gel (espresso flavored) is surprisingly delicious.  So that’s a plus.  Also, getting to spend a couple of hours outside during this bright blue-skied gorgeous autumn day running through Brooklyn is fantastic.  But really the best news is that I feel recommitted to this process, and excited not just to go back to practices but to my own runs with Tulip.

Eight miles!!


Oct 21
TEAM BROOKLYN
A snapshot of most of our group after a Saturday practice.  Basia and I are front and center, and that’s Coach Robin lying across our laps.  The other person in red is our Coach Luis, who is great — which didn’t keep me from hating him tonight, and telling him so.  In fairness to me, he was having us do “pyramids,” which is a grueling progression of effort levels, and what do you know, the periods spent at the more difficult levels were a lot longer than the easier ones.  Our coaches are sources of more than just these sadistic exercises, though.  My shins have been bothering me these past few days, and so tonight (on Luis’s recommendation) I’ve been icing them and stretching my calves.  I have to admit, it feels kind of badass to ice something.  Not quite dipping myself in an ice bath yet, but still.

TEAM BROOKLYN

A snapshot of most of our group after a Saturday practice.  Basia and I are front and center, and that’s Coach Robin lying across our laps.  The other person in red is our Coach Luis, who is great — which didn’t keep me from hating him tonight, and telling him so.  In fairness to me, he was having us do “pyramids,” which is a grueling progression of effort levels, and what do you know, the periods spent at the more difficult levels were a lot longer than the easier ones.  Our coaches are sources of more than just these sadistic exercises, though.  My shins have been bothering me these past few days, and so tonight (on Luis’s recommendation) I’ve been icing them and stretching my calves.  I have to admit, it feels kind of badass to ice something.  Not quite dipping myself in an ice bath yet, but still.


Oct 7
On My Own (Sort of)
This past week was the first time I followed the Team In Training guidelines for training outside of our two coached practices a week.  We’re emailed a monthly calendar detailing what we should do, and if I look too far down the line it’s a little daunting.  In just two weeks we’re doing a 10k, which will be the longest I’ve run since – well, ever.  Right now my record is 8 kilometers, which I managed to run once.  It was a Turkey Trot in Chicago (maybe nine years ago?) and I did it with runner/friend/improvisor extraordinaire, Stephnie Weir.  There’s something about signing up with a friend that makes it possible to wake up early on Thanksgiving day and go the distance in Lincoln Park.  By the way, Stephnie was just on “Flash Forward” last week and did a star turn as a frazzled cupcake store owner showing up at  FBI headquarters.
Sunday I ran around my neighborhood with Tulip, my dog.  The calendar said to do a 30 minute easy jog, but I had a hard time running the whole time.  I ended up alternating running and walking for a total of 26 minutes running, 12 walking.  I tied Tulip’s leash around my waist (as recommended by The Dog Whisperer) and she did great.  She was by my side the whole time, no pulling, no dragging.  I adopted Tulip just over three months ago, and before I had her she spent a year in a shelter.  Ever since I started using Cesar Millan’s approach of exercise/discipline/affection she’s been a dream.  I’m looking forward to incorporating her into my training runs more.
Yesterday was designated as a cross-training day – meaning any kind of workout that isn’t running.  I joined the neighborhood YMCA and spent half an hour on the elliptical machine.  My next cross-training day I’m hoping to take a spinning class there.  I’ve only tried spinning once before, again back in Chicago.  It went so well that I’ve avoided it for the ten years that followed.  But something this whole process is bringing up in me is a willingness to try, try again.
Tonight we’ve got our evening practice.  I’m actually looking forward to it.
p.s.  It feels wrong to term any of this as “On My Own.”  The amazing generosity of my family and friends (not to mention a huge donation from an Anonymous donor!) has really astounded me.  I’ve also had great emotional support from my friends who are not only willing to hear me blather on about this, but also ask me how it’s going. I’m only three weeks into this process, but I already feel so much more connected to this bigger cause - and to other people, too.  Thank you.

On My Own (Sort of)

This past week was the first time I followed the Team In Training guidelines for training outside of our two coached practices a week.  We’re emailed a monthly calendar detailing what we should do, and if I look too far down the line it’s a little daunting.  In just two weeks we’re doing a 10k, which will be the longest I’ve run since – well, ever.  Right now my record is 8 kilometers, which I managed to run once.  It was a Turkey Trot in Chicago (maybe nine years ago?) and I did it with runner/friend/improvisor extraordinaire, Stephnie Weir.  There’s something about signing up with a friend that makes it possible to wake up early on Thanksgiving day and go the distance in Lincoln Park.  By the way, Stephnie was just on “Flash Forward” last week and did a star turn as a frazzled cupcake store owner showing up at  FBI headquarters.

Sunday I ran around my neighborhood with Tulip, my dog.  The calendar said to do a 30 minute easy jog, but I had a hard time running the whole time.  I ended up alternating running and walking for a total of 26 minutes running, 12 walking.  I tied Tulip’s leash around my waist (as recommended by The Dog Whisperer) and she did great.  She was by my side the whole time, no pulling, no dragging.  I adopted Tulip just over three months ago, and before I had her she spent a year in a shelter.  Ever since I started using Cesar Millan’s approach of exercise/discipline/affection she’s been a dream.  I’m looking forward to incorporating her into my training runs more.

Yesterday was designated as a cross-training day – meaning any kind of workout that isn’t running.  I joined the neighborhood YMCA and spent half an hour on the elliptical machine.  My next cross-training day I’m hoping to take a spinning class there.  I’ve only tried spinning once before, again back in Chicago.  It went so well that I’ve avoided it for the ten years that followed.  But something this whole process is bringing up in me is a willingness to try, try again.

Tonight we’ve got our evening practice.  I’m actually looking forward to it.

p.s.  It feels wrong to term any of this as “On My Own.”  The amazing generosity of my family and friends (not to mention a huge donation from an Anonymous donor!) has really astounded me.  I’ve also had great emotional support from my friends who are not only willing to hear me blather on about this, but also ask me how it’s going. I’m only three weeks into this process, but I already feel so much more connected to this bigger cause - and to other people, too.  Thank you.


Oct 3

CONNECTION TO THE CAUSE

Today’s practice had us in Manhattan, running four miles up and down the West Side Highway.  I was still sore from Wednesday night’s boot camp (walking lunges, frog jumps, squats, and other nightmares) but I didn’t feel anywhere near as sore as I did Thursday and Friday, when I clung to railings just to get up and down stairs. I managed to jog three miles today but then I had to walk the last mile.  Basia ran the whole way, because she is a champ.  She also enjoyed the boot camp training, but that’s because she is a psycho.

It was nice to meet some non-Brooklyn folks who are going to be running the Phoenix marathon in January.  The really special part of today’s meeting happened after our run, though.  Every Saturday we start off the practice with a “Mission Moment,” when we take a few minutes and someone shares a personal connection to the cause, reminding us of the real reason we’re doing this. Last week Basia spoke.  Another time I’ll tell you a bit more of Basia’s story.  I wish you could hear her tell it, though, because she’s got an awesome British accent and it makes everything that comes out of her mouth sound posh.

Today  our Mission Moment was expanded a couple of hours.  We met a scientist from Sloane-Kettering whose research receives money from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  He is also a cancer survivor of eight years.  Honored teammates then came forward, talking about their battles with (and victories over) cancer, and why participating in Team in Training means so much to them.  Then we watched an incredibly moving video taken by an eighteen year old leukemia survivor who now volunteers with children who have cancer.  That pretty much left everyone in tears.  Finally, we were invited to stand up and explain our connection to the cause.

I’m doing this because of my friend Basia.  She’s the one who signed up for it, and to support her I joined up too.  The truth is, much of the time I forget Basia is sick – especially when she’s running that last mile that I’m straining to walk.  I’m also doing this in memory of  three people I loved very much. Last year, they all died of cancer.  Lauren, Don, Mr. Gilbert (my English teacher of three years, but so much more than that.  Mr. Gilbert… I can’t begin to explain how important he is to me.  But still, calling him Steve – which he invited me to do at a certain point, when I was years out of school – feels wrong.  I loved Mr. Gilbert, I didn’t know him as Steve).  Losing these three amazing people within three months of each other was awful.  And it leaves me dumb, when all I can say is I miss them.  I love them.  And fuck cancer.

To that end, here’s where the money goes (this is from Team In Training):

Team In Training has officially hit our ONE BILLION DOLLAR fundraising mark since the program was first started in 1988! In the past 21 years, we’ve funded over $800 million in research grants and provided patients and their families with life-altering financial and emotional support.

Those numbers are HUGE, but what’s important to remember is the difference that every single dollar makes in the fight against blood cancers. Here’s a break down of where your money could go:

$25 could pay the taxi fare for a patient’s ride home from the hospital after treatment

$50 could register one person to be a bone marrow donor

$75 could provide HLA (bone marrow) typing for a family member of a patient with leukemia

$100 could pay the cost of 4 patient’s chemotherapy drug prescription co-pays

$300 could train 25 peer volunteers to provide emotional support to newly diagnosed patients

$1000 could allow a patient to meet with health care specialists to design and discuss their disease and treatment plan

$3000 could provide a patient with a one month supply of Gleevec (a life-saving drug, developed through LLS research funding, used to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia)


Oct 2

A confession

So I just set up my donation site (as well as this one) and made a pledge.  But rather than have the display say “Anonymous” (or heaven forbid, name myself as my sole contributor so far) I made up the name “David Beane.”  I guess so it would look like some hot, vaguely English guy made a donation.  I hope my imaginary Canadian boyfriend doesn’t get jealous!