Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Where does my money go?"

Hey friends,

Welcome to my blog. As you may know, I am training for the Rome Marathon to raise funds for blood cancer research and patient services. Here's a sample of how your dollars will be used to help those battling blood cancers:
A donation of $25 provides patients and their loved ones with FREE booklets that contain up-to-date information on their disease and help them make informed decisions about their treatment options.

A donation of $50 makes possible a Family Support group with a trained facilitator where comfort can be found and experiences can be shared among patients and family members.

A donation of $100 helps supply laboratory researchers with supplies and materials critical to carrying out their search for cures.

A donation of $1,000 makes possible one-on-one conversations with health care specialists who provide patients with information about their disease, treatment options, and helps prepare them with questions for their health care team.
But ... does my money really help those in need? Where does my money REALLY go?
LLSC is proud to be one of the most efficiently managed non-profits in the country with approximately 75 cents of every dollar spent directly on mission related activities, such as Program Services, Research, Patient Services, Community Services, Advocacy, and Education & Outreach. The rest of the 25% goes to Administrative Costs.
Research: Research funded by the LLS has directly contributed to many breakthrough cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, bone marrow and stem cell transplantation and new, targeted oral therapies such as Gleevec(TM) which might never have happened were it not for the kinds of research funded by LLS.
Patient Services: LLS provides a wide range of services to patients such as family support groups, an extensive educational website with web "chat" support programs, free seminars and conferences.
"So, does my donation make a difference?"
The answer is a resounding, "Yes!" Every bit counts. I've had donations from $2 - $100 and I am extremely grateful to each donor. Every dollar goes towards creating a better future for those battling blood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, and myeloma.


Team in Training: Updates

Thursday, Dec 23, 2010: Wow ... I made the 1st milestone: $1,500! I am so excited! I'm confirmed for Rome! "Just" $4500 left :)

Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010: It's been a week since my last update. Just did some cross training this morning and will run later today (7k Easy). Still need to work on fundraising if I'm going to make it to Rome. Another option is to run the Around the Bay 30K race, which has a lower fundraising requirement, but will still need some work.

Tuesday, Dec 14, 2010: Updated photo - group photo from Group Training Session before our 12k long run. Enjoyed my much needed rest days. Time for a new week to begin. Today is a 6 km easy run =) Looking forward to it!

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010: Had a great run today! Today's run was the 12km long run. I paced with Alan, who could have ran much faster. I'm grateful for the running buddy. Now I need to make sure I do all my training during the week so I don't slow him down on Saturday. Oh! And today's run was emergency free (no pit stops required). I blame it on diet =) - thanks, Richard (one of the coaches) for the tips!

Friday, Dec 10, 2010: Today was our Transport Group Christmas Party. For those of you who don't know me, I'm a transportation planning grad student at the University of Toronto. I had some wine and a shot of whisky when I got back home. Then I decided to do my 5K easy run (~12am). I made a stop by the Metro to pick up some running food (smoothie, bananas, energy bar). I'm excited for tomorrow's long run (12km).

Thursday, Dec 9, 2010: Today was my "rest day". So I slept in and "rested" haha. I went for a light jog also just to loosen up and wow it's cold! I have a 5k easy run tomorrow :) Looking forward to that!

Wednesday, Dec 8, 2010: Thanks for the continual support everyone! The donations, personal messages, and smiles mean a lot to me. Today was supposed to be a 5km tempo run. I had a minor injury so decided to take it easier today. I did a 30 min bike workout and some strength training with Jireh (my brother, who visited from Western!). I also just watched an inspiring video on the Boston Marathon (posted on my blog).

Tuesday, Dec 7, 2010: Continually encouraged in my training and fundraising by friends. Feel very blessed. Did my 6K easy run, which consisted of some hill work on a treadmill and easy jogging around the track with Kelvin. By the way, training with others is AWESOME! Also, tested out a new pair of shoes (Newton's) and love them! (Note: After showing up to one of the training sessions in Converses, I was promptly told to go to a running store and get a "proper" pair of runners :p

Monday, Dec 6, 2010: Incredibly grateful to friends who have donated. Today's cross training consisted of 300 burpees. Nothing else, though it was pretty tough. Looking forward to hill/interval training tomorrow. Learned today that the cancer my uncle died from was lymphoma. My training is taking on new meaning with each passing day.

Saturday, Dec 4, 2010: Had a great run this morning with the TEAM. Inspired to be more consistent in my running and fundraising. Remembering the cause is beyond just Rome. Learned what NOT to eat the night before :P Had a bagel from What-A-Bagel for the 1st time after the run - best bagel ever! Made up for the chilly running weather (Weather Network has it at -4 C ... the high was -1 C.)

Saturday, Nov 20, 2010: Group training session this morning. Nice running route in the Yonge/Eglinton area. Run in Chucks (Converses), hoping to run Rome barefoot since I think that would be epic! Was promptly told to go to the Running Room to get a "proper" pair of shoes :p Had a lot of fun though and met a lot of great people! Looking forward to my training this week =)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Santa Story

Here's a moving story sent to me from a friend:

Three years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at Mayfair Mall in Wisconsin . The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl.

"Who is this?" asked Santa, smiling, "Your friend? Your sister?"

"Yes, Santa," he replied. "My sister, Sarah, who is very sick," he said sadly.

Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

"She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!" the child exclaimed. "She misses you," he added softly.

Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy's face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas. When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted.

"What is it?" Santa asked warmly.

"Well, I know it's really too much to ask you, Santa, but " the old
woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa's elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors. "The girl in the photograph... my granddaughter well, you see ... she has leukemia and isn't expected to make it even through the holidays," she said through tear-filled eyes. "Is there any way, Santa . any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That's all she's asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa."

Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do.

Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do. "What if it were MY child lying in that hospital bed, dying," he thought with a sinking heart, "this is the least I can do."

When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying.

He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children's Hospital.

"Why?" Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face.

Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah's grandmother earlier that day. "C'mon.... I'll take you there," Rick said softly.

Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa. They found out which room Sarah was in. A pale Rick said he would wait out in the hall.

Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed. The room was full of what appeared to be her family; there was the Grandmother and the girl's brother he had met earlier that day. A woman whom he guessed was Sarah's mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah's thin hair off her forehead. And another woman who he discovered later was Sarah's aunt, sat in a chair near the bed with a weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah.

Taking a deep breath, and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, "Ho, ho, ho!"

"Santa!" shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IV tubes intact.. Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug.

A child the tender age of his own son -- 4 years old -- gazed up at him with wonder and excitement. Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and he had to force himself to choke back tears. Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah's face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room.
As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa's shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering "thank you" as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes.. Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she'd been a very good girl that year. As their time together dwindled, Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from the girl's mother. She nodded in agreement, and the entire family circled around Sarah's bed, holding hands. Santa looked intensely at Sarah and asked her if she believed in angels.

"Oh, yes, Santa... I do!" she exclaimed.

"Well, I'm going to ask that angels watch over you, "he said. Laying one hand on the child's head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed. He asked that God touch little Sarah, and heal her body from this disease. He asked that angels minister to her, watch and keep her. And when he finished praying, still with eyes closed, he started singing softly, "Silent Night, Holy Night.... all is calm, all is bright." The family joined in, still holding hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all. When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah's frail, small hands in his own.

"Now, Sarah, "he said authoritatively, "you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!" He knew it was risky proclaiming that, to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he "had" to. He had to give her the greatest gift he could -- not dolls or games or toys -- but the gift of HOPE.

"Yes, Santa! "Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright.

He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room. Out in the hall, the minute Santa's eyes met Rick's, a look passed between them and they wept unashamed. Sarah's mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa's side to thank him.

"My only child is the same age as Sarah," he explained quietly. "This is the least I could do." They nodded with understanding and hugged him.

One year later, Santa was again back on the set in Milwaukee for his six-week, seasonal job which he so loves to do. Several weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his lap. "Hi, Santa! Remember me?!"

"Of course, I do," Santa proclaimed (as he always does), smiling down at her.

After all, the secret to being a "good" Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the "only" child in the world at that moment.

"You came to see me in the hospital last year!" Santa's jaw gaped.

Tears immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest. "Sarah!" he exclaimed. He scarcely recognized her, for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy -- much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before. He looked over and saw Sarah's mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.

That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus. He had witnessed --and been blessed to be instrumental in bringing about -- this miracle of hope.

This precious little child was healed. Cancer-free. Alive and well.
He silently looked up to Heaven and humbly whispered, "Thank you, Father.. 'Tis a very, Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Life's just better with coffee =)

Hey friends!

For those who are new to my blog, welcome! My blog chronicles the journeys I've been having and the exploits along the way. I'll share some of my adventures from two of my recent journeys:
  1. Train for the Rome Marathon to raise money for blood cancer research and patient services. You can donate here.
  2. Living a Coffee-Free Life
Journey to Rome

I started off on this journey with a love for running, an excitement for travel (Rome!), and a desire to run for a cause bigger than my own. As I have continued to train, I am amazed by the stories I hear of people who have lost loved ones to cancer, friends who are fighting the good fight, and stories of survivors, who are the real heroes of this fight.

As the cause becomes closer to home, I've been motivated to train harder and to do the things that my body doesn't always want to do. I realize that there are others who have it far worse than I. And the fight I fight pales in comparison to the fight many fight with cancer.

Saturdays are Group Training Sessions (GTS). GTS starts off with a seminar around 8am and then a long run. Our training is individual during the week and together for the long group runs. Yesterday's seminar was on preventing running injuries. The seminar was given by Dr. Cindy Lewis from Absolute Endurance. She made a few good points and I'll just share some of the key points:
  1. Training Program Progression: Frequency, Intensity, Volume. Progress at a rate of 5-15%. In other words, be patient.
  2. Running Biomechanics / Running Efficiency: think soft =) Some other points are: (a) Foot strike - think mid-foot instead of heel .. this will take some getting used to; (b) Full body forward lean; (c) Hip extension; (d) Cadence - 90 steps per minute per foot
  3. Strength training: This will help you get stronger, faster, and prevent injuries. Running is very repetitive, so some muscles are continually over-used, while some others are under-used.
Post up if you have any further questions or you can contact Absolute Endurance.

As a final note on the adventure to Rome, this Saturday, I was running with another Team in Training member, Alan. His pace is a bit faster than mine, but he held back with me a bit and helped me finish the long run at a good pace. I remember running with others and helping them finish their race. It was good to feel inspired and motivated as well. Thanks, Alan!

Coffee-Free Living

"Now... why would anyone in their right mind want to live coffee free?"

If you share these sentiments, let me share with you some of my reasons for Coffee-Free Living. First, let me say that I am not coffee-free and I love coffee .... a lot! In fact, I believe life is just better with coffee ... wouldn't you say?

But here are a few reasons for me to stop drinking:
  • Drinking coffee is like borrowing energy from the future. And while pleasant at first, coffee charges interest on this energy ;)
  • Coffee = bad breath and fascinating teeth
  • When I'm sick and drink coffee, I feel better (i.e. I don't realize how sick I really am and how much rest I really need)
  • And to echo the first point, I want pure energy (as much as I want pure joy and pleasure). I want to make decisions that will give me the greatest pleasure possible ... but not just temporary pleasure, but pleasure that lasts for eternity. I believe this pleasure ultimately comes from knowing Jesus :) In terms of energy, I want to make decisions that will keep me energized for the long run and not just for the next 2-3 hours.
Questions: I want to hear from you!

I don't know who actually reads my posts, but I'd love to hear from you all. You can either post a comment or send me an e-mail: joshuahy.wang@gmail.com. Here are some questions:

Running / Coffee
Do you run? What's your favorite running route?
Do you drink coffee? If so, how do you like your coffee?
What inspires you?
What gives you energy?

Rome
Will you partner with me in my marathon training and in helping fight blood cancer? If so, you can donate (online donations, cash or cheque accepted), send me a personal message, and/or tell as many people as you know.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Boston Marathon Video

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon has been one of my dreams. Here's an inspirational video of a group of fairly sedentary individuals and their journey to Boston! I ended up watching the entire video and was deeply moved by the story and inspired to train.

Monday, December 6, 2010

New meaning

My training is taking on new meaning. I just found out today (Monday) that my uncle passed away from lymphoma. He passed away a few years ago and all I knew was that it was cancer. The emotions that day are still vivid in my mind, especially my mom's. I love my mom and dad very much. And funerals are not fun. Funerals remind me that life is precious. That I can't waste my life. That I can't keep taking my parents for granted.

Yes, Rome is cool. And in fact, I was drawn at the opportunity to run in Rome. Running for a cause bigger than my own was also another driver, but this cause didn't resonate as personally with me initially as it does now. I'm training for the marathon to fight blood cancers, like lymphoma and leukemia. As I continue to hear people's stories, especially those close to home, my desire intensifies to train hard and raise money to help create a better future for those who battle these deadly blood cancers.

If you're reading this, I'd like to ask you to partner with me in fighting this cause. Here are some things you could help me with:
  • Check out my personal page, and if you have the means, please sponsor me.
  • Leave a personal message on my fundraising page
  • Spread the word to friends, family, colleagues, ... etc
  • Check out my personal page and blog regularly to see if I'm staying consistent with fundraising and training
I'd like to end the post by saying thank you to those who have donated so far. Whatever the amount you've donated, your donation means a lot to me. I appreciate your support in a cause that means so much to me.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Consistency

I'm training for the Rome Marathon with Team in Training. You can find more details and support me through my personal site. I appreciate all the support I have been getting so far, from donations to personal messages.

Chilly run

This morning was our weekly long run with Team in Training. We ran 10k today along this route. It was a beautiful run, passing along Sunnybrook Park and the Blythwood Ravine. The run was in the Yonge/Eglinton area, an area I don't frequent too often. I'm discovering new and exciting parts of the City of Toronto.

But it was cold. As I write this, it's -4 C, with a high of -1 C. I learned to better prepare for next time - choose my layers carefully, hydrate, etc. But I did get there on time (8am) for the seminar. We had a seminar on nutrition, which was pretty good. A lot of us know how to eat healthy, but few of us make it a priority. I just have to do it.

Nutrition

Speaking of nutrition, the night before, I had 3 chinese buns and my leftover pork bone soup shortly before going to bed. Yea, bad idea. For one, I couldn't sleep and ended up going for a light jog at 12am. Also, that midnight "snack" came to haunt me halfway through my 10k run. I ended up stopping in the Starbucks, using the facilities, and then getting a Short Pike Place Coffee (the only coffee I had all day! ... a Short is smaller than a Tall) ... and a banana ... it costed me a dollar, but considering I didn't have breakfast, I thought it was worth it.

Lessons learned:
  • don't eat a heavy meal the night before a long run
  • eat breakfast, but don't overdo it if you're going for a medium-long run
  • high GI foods before a run, low GI / protein after for recovery
  • hydrate
Consistency

This is another lesson I learned, but I figured it deserved a paragraph of its own. Consistency. This is so tough. I've been having difficulty getting in my runs this week, and a greater problem with fundraising. With both of these things, I know what I need to do ... I just need to do it.

Some lessons I learned on how to be consistent:
  • Have a plan - it's pretty tough to be consistent if you don't know what you're supposed to do
  • Know the "why" - purpose energizes and motivates you, especially a purpose beyond yourself. For me, it's been helpful to remind myself that I'm not just doing this to go to Rome, but to help change lives and create a better future for someone
  • Community - find people who share your goals. I find I'm quite prone to peer pressure - I'm easily influenced by the people I'm with ... be they depressing people or optimistic people. This morning's run with other Team in Training participants helped motivate me to do my training runs (since there are a few fast guys there that I want to catch up to) and to do my fundraising (especially after hearing other people's stories)
  • Just do it - think not whether or not you will do it ... but how you will do it. You've already decided to do this. So get to it!
Time to put what I learn into practice :)