Running for Anna

On December 12, 2010 our family was devastated by the loss of my niece, Anna Rogotzke, on her fourth birthday, to a rare cancer called Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. On December 4, 2011, I ran in the California International Marathon to raise money for the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative, a leader in the fight against sarcomas. This blog is created to update those interested in my journey and progress as I train for this event and events thereafter.

....And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Running Buddies and 12-miler

In the running world you hear about varied opinions as to whether it's better to run with friends or by yourself.  Some say that running with others really inspires and motivates them to run better, farther, and faster.  Others prefer to run solo.  I'm definitely in the latter category.  I love running alone in the wee early hours of the morning with nothing but my thoughts (and music) as company.  Well, on Tuesday, I got to run with some new friends, but probably not the kind you're thinking of.  I was running past a house when two little pitbull-type dogs came racing out of the yard at full speed, barking furiously.  Scared me half to death!!  I completely stopped and begged for my life said some things in what I hoped was a gentle, non-threatening voice.  After only a moment, they calmed down enough to where I felt like I could start walking again.  I started walking, then running.  I knew they were somewhere behind me, but figured they would just turn around and go back home.  Ummmm.....apparently, they had some pent-up energy.  I was scheduled for 8 miles that day...they started running with me at 1.5 miles and ran the remaining 6.5 miles with me all the way to my house.  I used what I thought to be the very firmest voice I could muster several times and told them to go home, but they were having none of that.  When I reached my house, I went in the side gate, and could hear them scratching the wood behind me like they wanted to come in.  I said to myself that I would take a shower and see if they were still out there at that time, but they had left - hopefully back to their home.  Were it not for the fact that we already have two dogs, they probably would be new additions to our family right now.  :)

Good's OK

So, yesterday I had a 12-miler on my schedule.  Not sure if you remember the my last disastrous attempt at 12 miles.  I'm not going to lie.  I was pretty anxious about this second attempt.  I wanted it to go well, and, while I didn't run the same route as last time, there were still some pretty good hills on this route (as is the case with all my runs...they're unavoidable).  I started out ultra-conservatively to try to keep some gas in the tank for the later miles.  Turned out to be a dream run!!  I felt good the whole time, and my last miles were actually faster than the earlier miles, which I frequently struggle with.  I felt great during the run AND after the run.  Yay!!  I feel like right now I could complete a half-marathon (which I will at this race in Sacramento, CA in October), and that makes me very satisfied with my progress.

My "official" marathon training starts next week...yikes!  I have spent the last 4-5 months just building a solid mileage base.  Thinking of running that 26.2 miles distance still gives me some anxiety, but I am confident that I am doing what I am supposed to.  I have gone from short run paces of 10:45/mile to now knowing that I can run about a 9:45 pace for at least 6 miles.  My long runs have increased from 4 miles to 12 miles.  The fact that I can run 12 miles right now with no injuries to report whatsoever makes me pretty confident that my training plan is working and that I will be ready to go come December 4!!  Yes, marathon, you who kicked me in the patooty about 4 1/2 years ago and made me vow to never run another one will be my friend this time it??  And, this time, I won't arrive limping across the finish line, but running strong and confidently!
Not this
Yes, like this!!
Of course, this time, I'm not running just for me.  It's in memory of Anna and for all those other children fighting the dreaded disease of cancer.  These innocent little ones do not deserve to endure their pain and suffering, so what's a little discomfort for me?  That - and, of course, some prayers - is what has kept me going through my training, and that is what will bring me across the finish line with a smile on my face (and maybe tears... but, we'll ignore that part).  By the way, did you happen to see the amount raised so far has just surpassed $2000?  Thank you, thank you, thank you to all those participating in this journey with me. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Minnesota Music and Memories

I can't believe it's been almost two weeks since my last post!  As you may remember, I was on my way to Minnesota.  I was very excited about all of the events that I had on schedule, and they were EVERYTHING I expected and more.  It was such a great week, but it's also good to be back home. 

My son and I started out our time there by running in the Isaac's Foundation Hope Run.  After our flight landed, we met up with my sister and her family at a hotel in Melrose, MN on the night before the run.  I was a little worried, because the weather forecast called for some possible thunderstorms and a heat advisory (I do not like running in heat or humidity), but the day started out cool and cloudy, and the run wasn't too bad.  I ran about 10 miles, and my son ran about 5 miles.  I was very proud of him, because the most he had run before this was 3 miles.  We did stop quite a bit, because at approximately every mile a little booth was set up honoring a child who was currently fighting cancer, had fought cancer and is currently free of disease, or had lost their battle with cancer.  It was very touching and humbling to see those innocent faces who had to go through this terrible ordeal.  Anna's stop was at mile 5, and that was where I turned around.

The rest of the weekend was spent visiting with my sisters and their families.  I got to meet a new nephew for the first time and watch my other nephews play T-ball. 

My nephew, Luke

Nephew, Isaiah (the runner on base)
New nephew, David

I should mention at this point that I managed to keep on track for all of my scheduled runs.  However, remember when I said I don't like humidity?  Well, this week was the WRONG week to run in Minnesota...more on that later.

Tuesday through Friday of last week was spent at the National Conference on Worship, Music, and the Arts. This was FABULOUS!  My son and I were inundated with pure talent the whole week.  So many gifted artists and musicians gave their time to make this week truly special, and I enjoyed every second.  The sessions were informative, and the worship services and concerts were indescribable.  Uninhibited beauty!!

The most beautiful pipe organ I've ever heard

Our time in Minnesota ended with the First Annual Anna Rogotzke Memorial Kickball Tournament.  My mom, some aunts, and two of my brothers were able to travel from Wisconsin to be there, so more family visiting time and a WONDERFUL day playing kickball, remembering Anna, and raising money to KICK CANCER TO THE CURB.  It was extremely successful for a first-time event, and the date has already been set for next year.  I hope to be there!
My little niece, Amelia, wants to play kickball, too!!
Anna's Army team (I'm second from the left)...double elimination..we lost our first two games.  :(

So, about my running.  I was able to get in all of my scheduled runs while away from home.  It was a cutback week (thank goodness), so it wasn't too hard to get the miles in.  HOWEVER, the heat and humidity were awful.  My sister recently posted this on her blog, which basically compared her running to mine.  She also said that with the bugs, humidity, and various varmints commonly found in farm country, it was more difficult for her to run than for me.  I came back from my run last Monday, and told her that SHE WAS RIGHT!!  I woke up at 5:00 a.m., and it was already 80 degrees (I'm used to 55-60 degrees at that time of day) with about 75-80% humidity!  How do you people who live in these conditions do it?  I came back a sweaty, drained, wilted MESS after each run.  Pure torture.  It was frustrating because, since I train at altitude with hills, I felt it should be a piece of cake to run at basically sea level on flat roads.  NOT SO!  My breathing was easier, but that humidity just saps your strength.  The heat index one day was 125 degrees at its worst...ugh!  I was able to pull out a good 10-miler on Saturday when it was cloudy with a fairly cool breeze, so I ended the week on a high note.  I've been resting these past couple of days after our trip back home, but I'm anxious to get running in the relatively cooler temps tomorrow.

Now off to catch up on everyone's blogs!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Regaining Confidence / Minnesota-Bound

First of all, thank you for the kind words regarding my previous post.  Your comments made me feel so much better.  I ran 6 miles yesterday and 8 miles this morning...they were exactly what I needed to regain some confidence.  The weather was perfect (mid-50's at run time) and I felt strong the whole time.

I wanted to share a couple of events with you.  Friday, I leave for Minnesota.  My church is paying my way to attend The National Conference on Worship, Music, and the Arts  at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN.  The conference runs July 19-22, and is fairly close to where my sister and her family live.  My son and I are leaving early and staying a little later to get some visiting time in with them.  The two Saturdays I will be there have some noteworthy happenings.

Saturday, July 16, we will be attending and running in this: Fourth Annual HOPE Run in West Union, MN.

The bike/walk/run is organized by the family of a little boy, Isaac, who died in 2008, at the age of 2, of Neuroblastoma.  The funds faised in this event go to childhood cancer research.  My niece, Anna, will be one of those remembered this year at the run. 

Saturday, July 23, will be the First Annual

Anna Rogotzke Memorial Kickball Tournament and Family Fun Day

in Sanborn, MN (9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon).  The funds raised in this event will also go to support sarcoma/cancer research.  I am THRILLED that I get to be in the area to attend both of these events.  If you live near either of these, stop by!  It's for such a great cause. 

I am going to try to keep on task with my training schedule throughout my time away from home.  I guess I'll have to get used to running with humidity and bugs for awhile (for some reason, mosquitos LOVE me).  Hopefully, the lower altitude will even things out a little bit.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

You Just Never Know

So, my training so far has been going so, scary well.  Almost every run has felt great and every week I feel like I'm accomplishing what I set out to do.  I guess it was only a matter of time before a run came along to remind me that anything can happen, and it won't all be sunshine and roses.

Today I was up bright and early for my scheduled long run of 12 miles.  We own two houses (we don't WANT to own two houses...long story), and they just happen to be 11.5 miles apart.  Last night, I parked my car at our "old" house and stocked the fridge with post-run chocolate milk and gatorade.  My husband drove me back to the "new" house, which would be the starting point of my run this morning.  The plan was to run to the old house, add .5 miles somewhere, and get the 12 miles done.  What I failed to remember, however, was our "new house" is in a valley.  Our "old" house is also in a valley.  In between the two valleys is a small mountain range you have to cross (OK...I exaggerate only slightly calling it a mountain it felt like the Himalayas).  I also failed to notice that the first 4 miles would be a gradual climb in elevation and the second 4 miles would be a very NOT gradual climb in elevation.

I felt pretty good the first 4 miles.  However, my right leg (hamstring?) was starting to give me a little pain by the end.  Starting the steep second 4 miles, it really started talking to much so that miles 7 and 8 were half-running, half-walking. I have not had to stop and walk on a run, yet, this training period (other than potty breaks)...I can't even tell you how mentally punishing this was.  I was at the point in the run where it would be longer to turn around and go home, but it was soooo tempting.  I just kept trying to relax, let the music motivate me, and to remember the downhill coming up. 

I FINALLY crested the hill, started downhill and....woo-hoo!!!....oh, it felt good.

I was envisioning making up some of that lost time from when I was walking when, suddenly...a horrible ache started in my right side.  Not just a "side stitch", but a pain so fierce I was actually starting to wonder if I had appendicitis or something.  All the stopping and stretching in the world was not making it better.  So the last 3.5 miles were also run/walk mixes...and forget about making up the .5 to get to 12 miles.  I got to the "old" house and collapsed on the living room floor.  I cannot remember feeling so awful after a run (if I can even call it a run).

Of course, this plays with your mind.  You start thinking things like, "How will I ever run a marathon if I can't even run half the distance?" and other self-defeating thoughts.  But, now that I've had a chance to recover, I think I did one major thing wrong.  I know incorporating hills into your training is good, but maybe not so much on the long runs (not this extreme...anyway).  It's hard enough to get the distance done (speaking for myself) without throwing 8 miles uphill into the mix. 

The beautiful thing about running is that all runs are different.  The ugly thing about running is that all runs are different.  We never know what we are going to encounter after stepping out the door.  We can be mentally and physically prepared, but that's not going to ensure that all goes well.  All we can do is try to enjoy ourselves, learn from every good run and every bad run, and - above all - keep stepping out that door!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Blogger Award

A few days ago Nikki at tagged me for an Amazing Blogger Award!  If you haven't checked out her blog, yet, do so.  She's an awesome mom, blogger, and seems like someone I would really like to meet in person someday.  This absolutely made my week, and I was truthfully quite honored. 

 So, apparently, with this award, I have to answer some questions about myself.  So, let's see....

My favorite cartoon character:


My favorite thing to photograph:

It's a toss-up between these two guys

and Lake Tahoe.  We live about a half-hour from what is, in my opinion, one of the top beautiful places on earth.  Every time we go there,  I take tons of pictures.
Favorite thing to cook:
So, uh.....I don't really like to cook all that much.  HOWEVER, this is definitely my favorite thing that my husband cooks (and, no, a vegetarian I am not).
BBQ Tri-tip....mmmmmmm
My favorite exercise:
Was there ever any doubt?  (And, no, this isn't me, but a girl can dream, right?)
My favorite movie:
This is a tough one, but I'd have to say this one:
LOVE this movie...the love story in it is so simple and honest
My favorite article of clothing:

This time of year, I basically live in capris (when not at work or running)
Favorite flower:
Indian Paintbrush
Favorite breakfast:
My son saw me post this picture and said I was boring.  Sorry...I love cereal!
My favorite book I've read recently:
Love courtroom dramas and crime mysteries!
My favorite place to be:
Home with family

Add one of your choice:
Favorite football team:
Go Pack Go!!!!
And, introducing five other fabulous bloggers:

Julia at

Sanity and Sweet Tea

Becky (my sister) at

Raina at

As for my running this week, it keeps on going very well! 
Monday - 6 miles
Tuesday - 8 miles
Wednesday - 6 mile (9:58 average pace!! First time going that distance with a sub-10 pace)
Thursday - rest
On Schedule for Friday - 4 miles
Saturday - 12 miles (this is longer than any distance I've done thus far in my training...hopefully, it goes well)