It’s Marathon Eve!!

I can’t believe that in less than 12 hours, I’ll be running my first marathon. It’s hard to accurately describe in words how I’m feeling. I know I’ve done the training. I know I can do it. I need to start tomorrow’s race without an ounce of doubt.

I saw my chiropractor this morning for my last adjustments and taping. He’s run 40+ marathons and has done four Iron Man competitions. He understands endurance sports and how to push the body. I told him I was nervous, and he said (and later wrote on my hat brim), “You’ve trained hard and you’ve removed the word ‘quit’ from your mind, at least for today.” He’s right. There is no quitting. Not today, not tomorrow.

I’ve had friends and family texting, calling, and emailing all day wishing me good luck and telling me how proud they are of me. I attended the Team in Training Inspiration Dinner tonight and was overwhelmed with the most touching stories of blood cancer survivors, and sadly, of those who lost their battle with the disease.

I walked away from the dinner tonight having learned or having been reminded of a few things, all of which I’ll tuck under the blankets with me tonight:

  1. There are more than 1.4 million people in the U.S. living with blood cancer. Tomorrow I run for them. I run to get them out of their hospital bed and back into their own. I run to keep those living in remission to stay in remission.
  2. I run because cancer sucks.
  3. My family and friends believe me; I believe in me.
  4. I will embrace the discomfort.
  5. I am a long distance endurance athlete.
  6. I GOT THIS.

When I cross that start line tomorrow morning, I will begin a 26.2 mile challenge against my mind and body. When I cross that finish line, I will cry. I will have achieved something I told myself I would never do, and I will have made an impact on so many. I will accomplish something that is so much bigger than me.

 

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Finals

Today was my final group practice. I still can’t believe that I’m running Marine Corps Marathon in eight days.

Before our six mile run, we took a group picture in front of the Iwo Jima / U.S. Marine Corps Memorial, which is basically where the finish line will be. I’m the one in the middle wearing the white hat.

Today was our last group run. Here's the team (coaches in green, except for Coach Chris who is kneeling and wearing purple).

Today was our last group run. Here’s the team (coaches in green, except for Coach Chris who is kneeling and wearing purple).

Today I also gave my Mission Moment. I told the team that the reason I’m running is for David, but that the whole reason I ended up running a marathon is because half-marathons got old to me. (Really? I just typed that?) I told them about the Do It For David campaign, and that if it weren’t for my friends and family, I never would have made it this far or raised so much money (I’m almost to $4,000).

I also received my race day jersey, Inspiration Dinner tickets, and emergency ID tag today. Tomorrow I’ll add some bling to my race day jersey, and I’ll pick up my bib on Friday!

All I need now is my bib!

All I need now is my bib!

After my run, I went home to shower and change for the donation-based barre class my studio was hosting. The class was full, which I wasn’t expecting, and donations topped $250! I still can’t believe that. Hard work pays off.

Another thing that came to an end today was half of the Family 5K Challenge. Michael completed his ninth and final 5K today — the Bricktoberfest 5K in Brick Township, New Jersey — and overall logged 28+ miles for the Do It For David campaign! Great job, Michael!  The Edwards’ Boys did a great job today too! Matthew (grey shirt) won third place overall for the men’s division and Nate won second place in his age group!

Michael and the Edwards' Boys at the finish line of their last 5K!

Michael and the Edwards’ Boys at the finish line of their last 5K! They Did It For David!!

Mom wraps up her half of the Family 5K Challenge tomorrow with Run the Vineyards – Fall Trail 5K in Rio Grande, New Jersey. I think it’s safe to assume that she’ll enjoy a celebratory glass of wine when she finishes! Today she ran the John Entrikin Memorial 5K in Manahawkin, New Jersey, and reached a 5K PR. Great job, Mom!

Mom reached her 5K PR today!

Mom reached her 5K PR today!

It’s hard to believe that this is all winding down, isn’t it? Eight days until the marathon! LET’S DO THIS!

Army 10-Miler: Killed It

The sun had just started rising when I left the house. The air was crisp and chilly, and no one was on the street. I guess that’s typical at 7 a.m. on Sunday. But today I had a mission: run the Army 10-Miler!

It was my first time running this race, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew there were 35,000+ runners and that it started at the Pentagon. I didn’t study the course, but looked at it long enough to know where the water stops were (I’ve improved immensely with hydrating!).

While I waited in my corral, I could hear the start guns going off for the different waves. Wounded Warriors and wheelchair racers started first, and by the time I had reached the start line, I saw several of those soldiers whizzing by me toward the finish. The athleticism of those racers was impressive! Everyone cheered as they passed. It got me excited! I love the energy on race day!

Runners moving up toward the start line

Look at all those runners moving up toward the start line! I’m in there somewhere.

With large races comes a slower pace (at least for me). It’s difficult to break away from the crowd, so instead of wasting energy early on, I conserved, thinking that I’d be able to find some space later on.

Many soldiers ran in the race; some injured, others not. Most inspirational to me were the young amputees. One really got me choked up. He was a young double amputee with two blade-like prosthetic legs. It seemed that he may have been a new amputee; his face showed pain and frustration as he walked, and a soldier under each shoulder helped him along. “You got this!” I yelled. “You’re doing great!”

It was hard to see someone younger than me struggle with what I assumed was a war injury. It made me thankful and appreciative for our military. It’s easy to forget the sacrifices they make for us, especially when so many of them are on foreign soil.

As I plugged along, I heard a “Go Team!” Luckily and quite by chance, fellow TNT teammate Cara found me around mile four. We were both wearing our purple TNT shirts and that’s how she found me! I was excited to have someone to run with, especially a teammate. I’ve become accustomed to running with a partner, and I actually felt myself ease up and settle into my pace. Cara and I run similar paces, and had lots to talk about: her upcoming wedding, our backstories, our jobs. We crossed the finish line together and snapped a picture!

GO TEAM!

GO TEAM!

There are many perks to distance running. Besides carb loading and the fun running gear (I tried Injinji toe socks today. Love!), it also gives you the excuse to accomplish nothing remarkable for the rest of the day. It’s quite glorious, actually.

Showered up and proud of my Finisher's Coin! After this picture was taken, I slept for two hours. Go me!

Showered up and proud of my Finisher’s Coin! After this picture was taken, I slept for two hours. Go me!

After rolling out and icing, I’ve done nothing today except eat, sleep, and watch football. Oh, and another plus: no work tomorrow! The office is closed for Columbus Day. I’ll start my morning with barre class, and then hunt for the perfect shade of neon green nail polish for race day (TNT colors are purple and green).

Let the countdown begin! Marine Corps is in TWO WEEKS! 🙂

Donations, and PRs, and Medals — Oh My!

What an incredible day for the Skudera family! All of the positive energy we’re putting into the universe with our “Do It For David” campaign is coming full circle!

First, Michael reached a new 5K PR: 37:55
Second, his runny buddy, Matthew Edwards, also reached a new 5K PR: 21:20 (Side Note: Matthew has run every 5K with Michael so far!)

Now, let’s talk about the three random donations Michael and Matthew received after spectators saw their “Beating Blood Cancer One Mile at A Time” sign. Jonathan, Nick, and “G” all donated on the spot. Unbelievably generous to say the least! Michael referred them to my blog and fundraising page, so here’s hoping that they spread the word to their friends and family too.

Here are Michael and Matthew after finishing their eighth 5K. They both reached PRs!

Here are Michael and Matthew after finishing their eighth 5K. They both reached PRs!

More exciting news: Mom placed first in her age division in her 5K today! Can you believe this?! She called me after she finished her race and was so overwhelmed with excitement that I could barely understand her! GO MOM!

I hope all of this good news is a sign of how my Army 10-Miler will go tomorrow! 🙂

 

Family 5K Challenge: It’s Time for the 7th Inning Stretch

As many of you know, the Family 5K Challenge is winding down. Michael runs his eighth 5K today, and mom runs her sixth. Unfortunately, the weather has been wet and yucky the past two weekends, but I believe that running in less-than-optimal conditions builds character!

Today, Michael is running the APTANJ/Allied OP 5K in Sea Girt, New Jersey. Proceeds benefit the New Jersey National Guard Child & Youth Program. The program provides support and resources for youth dealing with the separation from a parent, child care issues, difficulties with school, and many other problems. Learn more about the program here.

Mom, on the other hand, is doubling up. She’s running two 5Ks this weekend and two the next. Today she runs The Race to Outrun Hunger in Edison, New Jersey. Proceeds benefit Hands of Hope, a non-profit, community-based organization that works to alleviate hunger. Learn more about Hands of Hope here. Tomorrow’s race is in Mountainside, New Jersey — the Be Well 5K Fun Run at Hackensack Medical Center.

Last week, mom ran the 5K Run & Walk for Hope in Cranford, New Jersey. The beneficiary was the Center for Hope Hospice & Palliative Care. Learn more about the organization here.

There are only two weekends left for the family to reach their nine 5K goal. When the challenge is complete, mom and Michael will have run nearly 58 miles for the Do It For David campaign! Way to go you two!

Donation-based Barre 3 Class October 18 to Benefit LLS

As mentioned in an earlier post, I was trying to nail down a date for a donation-based barre 3 class to benefit LLS. It’s been finalized! Yay!

The class will take place on October 18 at 1:30 p.m. at barre 3 Georgetown, 1000 Wisconsin Avenue NW. There will be a jar for donations (cash or check). Every penny will go directly to LLS via my fundraising page. You can sign up for class here.

This is a great opportunity to try a barre 3 class if you haven’t yet. Because it’s donation-based, you decide how much you want to contribute to try this killer workout. No, you don’t need to be graceful or have prior dancing experience. Even if you’re as coordinated as a drunk giraffe, you’ll do great! It’s an all-levels class and with varying abilities.

I hope you can join me on October 18! Remember, every dollar makes a difference. My cousin David is proof. Here is a picture of him and his daughter Courtney taken a few days ago.

DO IT FOR DAVID!

Here's cousin David and his daughter, Courtney, taken last weekend in New Jersey.

Here’s cousin David and his daughter, Courtney, taken last weekend in New Jersey.

SEVEN of NINE 5Ks Complete!

On Saturday, October 4, my brother Michael completed his seventh of nine 5Ks! He participated in the first annual Shillelagh 5K in South Belmar, New Jersey. The proceeds benefited the Shillelagh Charitable Foundation to support its Thanksgiving food drive, college scholarship fund, Christmas toy drive; and help local individuals and families in need.

Many of you know that we’ve dubbed this 5K race series the “Do It For David Family 5K Challenge.” The main goal is to raise awareness of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honor of our cousin David who is battling blood cancer. During this challenge, Michael has had several running “teammates,” two of which that have been at every race. He calls them the Edwards Kids, and you’ve seen them in pictures.

Michael and I chatted recently about how beneficial it is to have running partners. Sure, running alone can be very therapeutic, but sometimes you just really need a buddy (for me, it’s my TNT teammate Michael). Do you prefer running / exercising alone or in a group?

Way to go Michael! Keep running!

Go Michael! Go!

Go Michael! Go!

 

Keep doing it for David!

Keep doing it for David!