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)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Less Than 5 Days!

Is that right?  Less than 5 days to go before the marathon?  Yikes!

It has been a long time since my last update.  I appreciate SO MUCH the kind comments and caring words many of you have left on my last post.  After a week of vacation with family in Wisconsin (for my sister's wedding), I am feeling refreshed and a little more positive. 

Me with parents and brothers and sisters - I'm the one in the red dress

It's helped that I've been able to do some RUNNING in the last week.  Just a few bullet points on that front:

1) - Broke down and went to the doctor the Monday before Thanksgiving.  Went about as I expected...she said not to run and I said not gonna happen.  She was very understanding...her mom's a marathoner.  Of course, the best thing to do would be to get an MRI, go to physical therapy, etc., etc.  I was going out-of-town, so no time for any of that.  Hmmm...maybe should have gone to the doctor when all this first started.  I hate going to the doctor, but lesson learned for next time.  She prescribed a heavy-duty anti-inflammatory and said to rest at least a few more days.

2) - Bought a foam roller.  I'll just say, "Ouch!"  Wow, those things HURT!!  But, after the first time using it, I was a convert.  My leg felt better than it had in weeks. 

3) - Continued with my stellar cross-training program with Jilian (sarcasm intended) a few more days. 

4) - Once in Wisconsin, I tentatively attempted a 6-mile run.  Didn't feel too badly, so a couple of days later tried 10.  My knee was definitely talking to me the whole time, but I was able to push through.  This past Friday, I thought I'd try 15.  It seems weird that this should be the time I'm tapering, but I'm instead trying to amp it up a little bit to make sure I'm OK for 26.2.  The 15 felt great!  I took it slow, and I'm afraid I'm going to have to do that Sunday, as well, but there was very little knee pain (could have been the four Advil I took before...but whatever works). 

So, what's my strategy for Sunday?  I don't have one!!  Since my training has basically been derailed, my only plan is to take it slow, enjoy the day, and - above all - remember Anna, whom this is about. 

Her 5th birthday (and, as it turned out, her "birthday" into heaven) would have been coming up on December 12.  My sister said that, as the day gets closer, so many events of those last few weeks are sticking out in her mind more clearly, and I agree with that.  I'll never forget my sister telling us that they were stopping treatment, as it was not working.  I will always remember driving through a snowstorm in Minnesota to attend Anna's birthday party, only to be told upon arriving that Anna was "not doing well".  All she could talk about for months was her excitement at being four years old, and it looked like this was not going to happen.  At about 8:00 p.m., we were told that it could be any moment that Anna would leave this earth, but I think she REALLY wanted to turn four.  At only minutes after midnight on her 4th birthday, she left the arms of her earthly parents and ran into the arms of her heavenly Father.  She had fought so valiantly for so long and got to celebrate the best birthday party ever inside the gates of heaven. 

So, really, what's a marathon compared to that?  If a little girl could battle through all that Anna had to deal with, I can - with God's help - for sure run, walk, or crawl a measly 26.2 miles in her memory. 

We love you, Anna.  You will never be forgotten.


  1. First blog post this morning and I am IN TEARS.

  2. OK, I totally understand that all plans are out the window. In reality, perhaps this is the BEST way to run a marathon. Total reliance on God and trusting that He WILL make your path straight. I am so glad you got a foam roller and that it seems to be helping.
    I know that no matter how this race plays out Anna's memory will be honored. What a sweet, sad story. I can't help but think of Matthew, my own 4 year old.

  3. Wow, what a touching story. A sad, but somehow wonderful one at the same time. Good luck with the marathon. I know you will keep Anna's memory alive and she would be so proud of what you are doing out there!

  4. oh, jen, this post is so touching....u are such a sweetie!!! gosh, it's stupid injuries that make me so mad but it goes to show how dedicated u are and that come heck or high water, u're gonna do it!! u will, girl, i know it!
    my suggestion is this: think of it more like just getting thru it, who cares how much u end up running. of course don't hurt urself but just go out there, be conservative, run as much as u can, and if u get to 15 and have to walk the rest, who cares. u've come so far and have so much to be proud of!! XOXO

  5. Anna's story is truly incredible, amazing and beautiful. what a brave and strong little girl. and what an honor it will be to run Sunday in her honor and memory. good luck dear friend! i will be thinking of you every second and sending you positive thoughts!

  6. sometimes no plans are the best. Just go and race with heart, wth passion, and with Anna in your mind. I know you can do this. GOOD LUCK!

  7. You will be just fine in your race, I know it--wings as eagles. My twins' 5th birthday is Dec. 8--your post made me tear up--we will light an extra candle for Anna, I promise.

  8. good luck this weekend and no matter what happens, you have achieved a great deal already!!

  9. Go Jen! We'll be pulling for you here in WI! We love you.