Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Brain Tumor Claims Another

After my dad died, it was years before I heard of a friend, family member or neighbor that knew someone suffering from or passed away as a result of a brain tumor. But that since that time -- and since beginning my marathon training began -- I've heard of learned about more and more about friends that have loved ones suffering from the disease: Ted Kennedy, a friend's mom, my running buddy's dad and today, brain tumor claimed the live of syndicated columnist Robert Novak.

The disease is undoubtedly tragic and becomes deadly quickly. My dad was sick for less than a year and half; Robert Novak was first diagnosed July 2008.

As I wrote in my initial blog post, running the Chicago Marathon this year -- for more -- is about more about achieving a personal best and rediscovering my love for run. It is a tribute to my late father and dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of individuals suffering from the disease, as well as their loved ones. This year alone, the National Cancer Institute is estimating that approximately 22,100 new brain tumor cases will be diagnosed, and the disease will claim the lives of nearly 13,000 individuals.

Today is a painful reminder that life is short. We must all band together to find a cure for brain tumors, as well as other diseases that claim the lives our family and friends.

On that note, please consider donating to Team TPM, the team I formed with my brother to run the Chicago Marathon and raise money to support the American Brain Tumor Association. Your support -- at any level, even just $1 -- is appreciated.

Thank you.

Donating to Team TPM Online:

1. Visit http://hope.abta.org/goto/teamtpm
2. Click on either Erin Serkaian or Greg Serkaian (Our team’s goal is collective, so it doesn’t matter who you choose!)
3. Click on Support Erin!/Support Greg!
4. Provide gift and payment information

Donating to Team TPM by check/mail:
1. Determine gift
2. Make check payable to ABTA/Path to Progress team, and include Team TPM in the memo line. (The later is very important to ensure the donation counts towards our team goal!)
3. Mail check to:
ABTA/Path to Progress Marathon Team
2720 South River Road
Des Plaines, Illinois 60018

Sunday, August 16, 2009

17 Miles... The Day After

I ran 17 miles yesterday. 17 miles. As in one-seven. Wowza!

There are many things that could go wrong over the course of 17 miles; I couldn't have asked for a better run. I felt great, experienced almost no IT band issues and ran and met with a new gal in the group -- we're even planning to meet for a run on Monday morning! The weather was hot and muggy and, due to Chicago's Air and Water Show, the Lakeshore Trail was more crowded than usual. But plenty of quick stops for water and good conversation pulled me through and, afterward, several of us runners headed into freezing Lake Michigan to use our legs.

And how to I feel today? Surprisingly, great! I mentioned I swore by ice baths in the path; now, I really do. I feel virtually no pain, stiffness or soreness in my legs - as if I could go run another 17! (Not really, but you get the point.) I'm encouraged and ready to take on 18 miles next week.

After the long run and savoring my scrumptious bagel, I headed to Diversey Harbor. A friend from Michigan was in town with his boat, and virtually no cloud cover made it a great day to watch the Air and Water Show. A small group of us watched the planes in the harbor before heading onto the lake. I've never seen so many boats in the water -- with some many dropping anchor, the lake itself looked a gigantic harbor!

By around 6:30 p.m., I started to crash on the boat, and when I finally returned home around 7:30 p.m., tried my best to find energy to meet up with friends. In the end, I just couldn't. B. whipped me up a delightful scrambled egg sandwich before kissing me goodnight before continuing with his Saturday night (like a normal person). I popped in an episode of True Blood -- Season 1 (I'm obsessed! But that's a subject for another post on another day) -- and fell asleep less than 15 minutes into it.

I'm absolutely in love with marathon training but, with all/most things in life, it comes with give and take. It's hard for those who don't live in Chicago to understand the difference between summer and winter here. In short, winter signifies boots, down jackets, cozy bars, movie nights and, at times, weeks without seeing friends because its too cold to play. In the summer, there's something to do every night of the week. From a walk on the lake to watching a Cubs game in the friendly confines or in a Lakeview beer garden to party dresses to alfresco dining, there's no better time to be out and about. While marathon training has cut down my "playtime," I'm happily satisfied with the trade I've made.

**Thanks to so many of you for your advice and wisdom about IT band issues! I'm on the mend, but not without your insight and support!**

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How I'm Holding Up

It’s been awhile since I last updated this blog… and even longer since I discussed my marathon training. Here’s a quick overview of what I’ve been up to

  • In addition to the Saturday morning runs with CARA, I’ve been making a strong effort to attend the Wednesday night runs. For the most part, I’ve succeeded. The group on Wednesday is much smaller – about four or five runners in my pace group, versus 50 or so on a Saturday morning – which paves the way for more intimate conversation. We typically run a little harder/faster, so these runs have been a real confidence boost.
  • I ran the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in Chicago on August 2. It was my first experience running a half marathon, and I'm so glad I did it. Not only because I not only achieved, but also beat, my goal time (stats here: Erin rocked the Rock n' Roll Half), but because it allowed me to experience Chicago from a perspective I have before. For example, I rode my bike down Lakeshore just before sunrise. A beautiful surreal sight, indeed!
  • Our weekly long runs are continuing to get farther… and farther… and farther. This week, we’re up to 17 miles! Yikes! I’d be kidding if I didn’t say I was a bit nervous. I’m not nessecarily worried about being able to run 17 miles – I know I can do it – I’m worried about how I’ll feel after. Will I have any energy for the day? This weekend is the Air and Water Show in Chicago, and I’d hate not being able to enjoy watching it. Will I be able to stay awake past 10 p.m., or even 9 p.m.? And how will my legs feel? Will I be able to walk?

My concern about body pains brings me to my next point: my iliotibial (IT) band. IT band syndrome is an extremely common running injury, and I think I have an acute case. A number of factors can cause it, but my self-diagnosis is that a combination of running a lot of miles, running on pavement, overpronation and genetics is causing pain on the outside of knee (the most common symptom) to occur. I’m trying not to freak out. In my four years as a high school runner, one year as a collegiate athlete and the 18 or so weeks I spent training for my previous marathon, my most serious injuries included shin splints and blisters.

For now, I’m resisting the urge to attend the CARA run this evening and am going to hole up at Bally’s for a low-impact cross-training session on the elliptical. I’m also icing two to three times per day, taking anti-inflammatories and doing stretching and strength-training activities. I’m determined to kick this.

Come on, body – hold yourself together for nine more weeks!

P.S. If any of you runners out there have any advice/tips, let me know! I’m all ears!