Sunday, December 6, 2009

We're Getting Close

As we approach mid-December, we are less than 90 days away from marathon Sunday, February 21, 2010. Once again, I hope we can "recruit" a large number of runners from Orlando to be there. I'm registered and have my hotel room reserved!

Please make every effort to join us for the "26.2 with Donna - The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer".

The photo is from 2009 after the award ceremony.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Donna in Orlando at Track Shack

On Saturday, November 7th, we were blessed to have Donna Deegan, visit the Track Shack here in Orlando. She was here to promote her new book, "Through Rose Colored Glasses", and to visit with runners. Many of the people who stopped to see her have run the "26.2 with Donna - The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer".

If you have been a follower of this blog you are very familiar with Donna Deegan. Her story is one of courage and determination. Assisting Donna was "our" own Donna, Donna Nelson. Both of these ladies have been such motivators for the running communities in Orlando, Jacksonville, Florida and across this country.

There are links on this blog to the websites for Donna's book and to the marathon. Please support this "fight" and register to run with Donna on February 21, 2010.

The photo is of Donna Nelson, Donna Deegan and me.

A quote from the book, "Fear Not; Only Believe" Mark 5:36

Monday, October 26, 2009

Donna to Visit Orlando

Donna Deegan will be at the Track Shack in Orlando, FL, on Saturday, November 7th, from 11:00am to 3:00pm. She will be signing copies of her new book, "Through Rose Colored Glasses". There are many Donna fans in the Central Florida area and we hope they will come out for this event.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dedicated to Cathy Johnson

"When I first met my mother-in-law, she was already going through breast cancer treatment for over two years. Over the next five years, she would prove to be one of the bravest, most positive people I've ever known. Never did she complain or ask, "why me", and her response to our questions of how she felt was always, "I'm hanging in there!", with a big smile on her face.

She showed me that you have choices in your life. You can choose to succumb to your fears and stresses or you can fight. You can take a stand and believe in yourself. She always wore a yellow LiveSTRONG bracelet, and that was her commitment. She challenged herself to LiveSTRONG through the good and the bad.

Cathy lost her battle to breast cancer in May, but her resilience and attitude in the face of adversity has given me a new perspective and given me the chance to look at distance running in a new way. I now look at marathon running as a choice and a chance. I purposely put the long miles under my feet, but many men and women who are given the diagnosis of cancer never had the chance to accept or deny the diagnosis.

The last hill in the "Breast Cancer Marathon", as you're approaching the finish, seems to go on forever. By that point in the race, your legs hurt and you're usually just about out of gas. During last year's race, as I came up the hill, panting and walking, I passed a woman wearing a pink "Survivor" bib and something big occurred to me ..........

That hill is over in just a few minutes. I can walk it, run it or even crawl up it and soon enough, I'm on the down slope and across the finish line. For those who are going through cancer treatment, many times there is no down slope, or the journey to get to the easy parts is very long and not easy. So that day, I ran the hill, and never stopped until I finished, where my husband was waiting to welcome me.

I can't wait for the 2010 "26.2 with Donna - The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer", because I know my mother-in-law will be there with me in spirit, reminding me to keep going and to LiveSTRONG.

I LiveSTRONG in memory of Cathy Johnson."

This post was written by Mari Costea-Johnson and published with her permission. The photo is of Mari and her husband Dave, at the finish of the 2009 marathon.

Friday, August 28, 2009

"Through Rose Colored Glasses"

Donna's new book, "Through Rose Colored Glasses", is now available for pre-sale.
Please visit the "Breast Cancer Marathon" website to see all available merchandise.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Please Share Your Story

As we move beyond the halfway point toward February 21, 2010, it is time for me to be more diligent in updating this blog. I am in the process of reaching out to friends for stories about their family members or friends who have battled breast cancer. Or, if you have a story about your involvement with the "26.2 with Donna - The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer", please share your story with me for the blog.

I will be back in Jacksonville for year number three. I have run 10 marathons and numerous half-marathons. There is not one that is as inspirational as the "26.2 with Donna."

Having friends who are survivors and are running in this event. Having friends who are running in memory of a loved one who tragically lost their battle to this disease. Reading all the t-shirts and signs the runners and spectators carry on race day. So much inspiration. So many reasons to participate.

As I write this, I recall coming upon a runner with less than two miles to go. On the back of his shirt he had a small sign that said simply, "please say a prayer for my sister."

Motivation is everywhere. To me, the hills don't seem as high, the heat is not too hot, and my body can and will endure a short period of "pain". Any discomfort I feel is nothing compared to what a cancer patient must endure.

If you have a story, please e-mail it to me at:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Incredible Journey

Those of you who have been following this blog are familiar with Donna Nelson and her battle with breast cancer. For those of you who are new to this blog, Donna was diagnosed in November 2007. Less than one year from her diagnosis she was back running, a 5K. In October she ran a 10K and on February 15th, she ran the half-marathon at the "26.2 with Donna".

This past weekend in Eugene, OR., she completed the "FULL" marathon, all 26.2 miles. Those of us who run know how difficult it is to run a marathon even under the best of conditions. To run one within 18 months of being diagnosed with breast cancer is truly "INCREDIBLE".

When Donna mentioned she wasn't pleased with her finish time, I reminded her of the quote from John "The Penguin" Bingham. "Your spirit doesn't know how to tell time."

Anyone, regardless of your physical condition, needs only to look at the photograph that accompanies this posting. The photo is of Donna crossing the finish line at the marathon.

What an "Incredible Journey"!
Prayers & Love.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A New Perspective

Over the past 14 months, I have found it easy and enjoyable to maintain this blog. It really doesn't take much effort to report on an event such as the "26.2 with Donna - The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer". Nor, does it take much effort to keep you informed on the people who help to make this race such a wonderful experience.

Several weeks ago I got to "go inside" and see firsthand a breast cancer patient receive her treatment. My friend Joan, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last fall, needed someone to accompany her for lab tests, doctor's examination and her "chemo" treatment. I think I was more nervous than she was. On second thought, I definitely was more nervous than she was!

Joan is receiving her treatment at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando. I have driven past the center hundreds of times, but never had the occasion to go inside. Walking to the front door was not unlike walking to the start of a marathon. Hundreds of thoughts were going through my mind. Only this time I was not familiar with what to expect behind the huge sliding glass doors. I know what to expect during a marathon.

The waiting rooms we went to were full with patients awaiting treatment for various cancers. There were men and women, young and old, various ethnic backgrounds, a cross-section of our population. It seemed as though no one was spared. I felt out of place. Why was I one of the fortunate people to be a "visitor", not one of the "patients". Why me? Why Joan?

As we moved from place to place within the center, I was struck by the positive attitude displayed by the staff. Trying to make the experience for the patient one of caring and comfort. Again, I encountered the patients, many ladies, many bandannas, not all pink. I was now coming face to face with what goes on behind the scenes. I felt as though I was beginning to "hit the wall", as can happen during a marathon. I wasn't giving up just as in a race, but the emotional involvement of the day was taking it's toll. I must go on.

Our last stop of the day, now about 2:30pm, was Joan to receive her "chemo" treatment. We went to a semi-private room, where the nurse took the "IV" and inserted it into Joan's port, a devise that was surgically implanted in her right chest. The machines were set and the "drip" began, it would take approximately 30 minutes to complete the process. At one point we were able to leave the room with the "IV" stand in tow. Off we went for a better view of downtown Orlando. As Joan reclined in the "chemo chair", I looked out over the city, not really seeing what was happening on the streets. What I could see was Joan's reflection in the window. Again the questions filled my mind........why? why? WHY?

Soon the machine sent out an audible tone indicating the process was finished. The nurse unhooked the "IV" and we were free to go. I felt the sensation of the marathon finish, I knew it was near and I had to muster the strength to get to the finish line, which like the start line, was two sliding glass doors.

The fresh air of the brisk March day felt clean and refreshing. I had done it, I had completed my "marathon" tour of a single day of a cancer patients experience. Much like any marathon I have ever run, I would not change a moment of the experience. I learned much about the process, I learned some things about myself, but most of all I learned an important lesson in the fight against breast cancer.

Tomorrow, Joan will once again head to M. D. Anderson for a treatment. This time her brother will be at her side. I'm sure I'll be back, just as I've come back to run other marathons. In retrospect, it wasn't me the observer who was running the marathon, it was the patient. My day with Joan was a 50 yard dash compared to the ultra-marathon she is running.

Give her strength, give all who are fighting this disease the strength to successfully complete their run. "Prayers and Love" to all who battle.

Joan....."I Love You!"

Monday, March 9, 2009

Don't Miss the "26.2 with Donna" in 2010

The photograph is of some of the Orlando runners who ventured north to Jacksonville Beach for the Breast Cancer Marathon. I don't have an exact count on how many "MarathonFest" runners attended, but I would estimate at least 25. Thank you all for making the trip and the commitment to this event and the fight against breast cancer.

The inaugural event in 2008 was very good, this year the organizers made a number of improvements to make this a "five-star" event! Please, please, please put this race on your calendar for February 21, 2010. Be part of our photo! I, along with many others are already registered and have our hotel reservations.

I would like to thank "Fat Man Running" for stopping by after the award ceremony to say hello. He has been a follower of this blog and a second time runner at this event. He traveled all the way from Massachusetts to take part. Also, Daria, who I saw along the course. She made the trip from New York.

Please send the link to this blog to all your runner and non-runner friends. We are hear to spread the word.

Thank you to everyone who visits this blog.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Difference a Year Makes

On February 17, 2008, I ran the inaugural "26.2 with Donna - The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer." On that day one very special person was at the finish line cheering for me. For those of you who have followed this blog it was Donna Nelson. The picture of us at the finish line is still the "inspiration" for this blog. Donna could not run in 2008 as she had been diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2007. I remember her telling me that she would be running the race "next year" and I could be waiting for her at the finish line. Thankfully, she completed her treatments and was able to resume running.

Fast forward to Sunday, February 15, 2009, Jacksonville Beach, FL. Donna is ready to run the race that had eluded her last year. She would have a friend and breast cancer survivor, Jodi, running with her today. When I finished my run one of the first people I saw was Donna's husband Fred. He had received an update on Donna's progress and we knew when to expect her at the finish. As the runners came across the finish we got our first glimpse of Donna and Jodi. Our smiles of joy turned to tears, then back to smiles. As Fred did last year, he took the camera and snapped a 2009 version of "Inspiration". What a difference a year makes.

Thank You Donna Deegan

Although this blog is almost one year old, I had never had the opportunity to meet Donna Deegan, the race founder. On Saturday, at the race expo, I finally got to collect the hug she promised me in an earlier e-mail. Having read so much about her, hearing comments from others who have met her, it was finally my time to meet and learn first hand about this incredible lady. Do you know that feeling when you meet someone for the first time and you feel as though you have known them forever? My experience wasn't meeting her for the first time, it was a "reunion". She was even more gracious than I had expected and her smile conveyed the spirit that drives her to do what she does for the fight against breast cancer.

Thank you Donna for all that you do. Prayers & Love.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Are You Ready for February 15th?

It is just 4 weeks until the running of the second "26.2 with Donna - The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer." It's hard to believe it has been almost one year since we were at Jacksonville Beach. It is not too late to register for the marathon or half-marathon. Hotel rooms are still available. Please check out the website for additional information.

I am pleased to let you know that my "inspiration" for last year's race, Donna N., has been training and will be running the half-marathon. Last year she had to stand on the sidelines and cheer the runners. This year she will hear those cheers for herself!

It has been enjoyable to keep this blog going. Thank you to all who have visited.

"Prayers & Love"

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Remembering a Birthday

On December 18, 2008, Tim Feeney, a fellow marathoner and friend lost a 30 month battle with brain cancer. Pictured above is Tim and his wife Susan. I took the photo in October 2007, one day after the Marine Corps Marathon. Susan ran the marathon, Tim despite his cancer was able to attend the race. In fact, the first person I recognized as I exited from the finish area following the marathon was Tim. He was making his way to find Susan.

February 15th we know is the date of the "26.2 with Donna - The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer. February 15th would have been Tim's 50th birthday.

Susan will be running the half-marathon at BCM to "celebrate" Tim's birthday. What a wonderful birthday present. So if you are attending the race and hear a chorus of "Happy Birthday" prior to the start, please join in. We will be sending our wishes to Tim on his day. I know he will be watching and keeping us safe along the course.