Tag Archives: good cause

The Back on My Feet 24-hour challenge

In July, Hubby will be running for 24 hours straight to raise money for the awesome organization Back on My Feet. That’s 24 hours of running. In a row. I think that deserves a guest post, don’t you?


When I was a kid growing up in Australia, we watched the Lone Ranger on Saturday morning TV. He was cool, he fought for good, he had an awesome name (way more awesome than Walker Texas Ranger. Sometime in the future Chuck Norris may be paying me a visit), and he rode a horse.

Riding a horse is something that may make a lot more sense when I too become a Lone Ranger as part of the Back on My Feet 24-hour Challenge in Philadelphia on July 20.

Back on My Feet was started in 2007 by Anne Mahlum, who as a young woman found strength in running as she dealt with her father’s gambling addiction. Years later, living in Philadelphia, every morning she would run past a group of homeless men staying at the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission. Knowing how running had helped her, she contacted the executive director of the shelter and asked if she could invite the men along on her runs. The first group run took place on July 3, 2007.

From the Back on My Feet website:

The theoretical question that Anne asked herself was, “if we can change the way people see themselves, can we change the direction of their lives?” She felt very strongly that if we could help people experiencing homelessness see themselves as deserving, capable, hardworking, responsible, disciplined, focused and reliable, it would be possible for them to move toward independence. This question is no longer a theoryit is a reality.

There are now chapters in Maryland, D.C., Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Indianapolis, Atlanta, New York City, and Austin.

The Back on My Feet program is designed to build personal responsibility. Resident members have to be 30 days sober and maintain a 90 per cent attendance record at three weekly runs. In return, they receive running gear. After six months of participation they get admission to other Back on My Feet partnership programs, which can assist with education and employment.

I read about Back on My Feet a few months back and was inspired to contribute to their fundraising by competing as a Lone Ranger in the 2013 Stroehman Back on My Feet 20IN24 challenge.

The object of the challenge is to run as many laps of the 8.4-mile course as possible in 24 hours. Yes, there are certainly easier ways to contribute, but how often do you get to run around the clock!

Before you start getting sympathy blisters, competitors don’t have to be on the course the entire time. Rest breaks are permitted and, given that it’s summer and I am the palest Aussie, probably wise. How far will I get in 24 hours? Well, I am no Cliff Young. (What, you don’t know who Cliff Young is? He was an Aussie who won the 544-mile Sydney to Melbourne ultra-marathon at the age of 61 in a then record-breaking time of five days, 15 hours. My goal is somewhere around 50 miles.)

Some of the other 310 Lone Rangers will do many, many, many, many more miles. There are events over the course of the 24 hours that I do really want to be on the course for. These include the Midnight Madness run, where another 525 runners do a lap in reflective gear (I am definitely cueing disco music on my RoadNoise vest for this) and a Pajama loop at 7 a.m. (just what you want to see after a night of little sleep—well-rested runners). After the race finishes at 10 a.m. on Sunday, I am sure it will not take me long to get into my pajamas. Monday will not be a work day for this Lone Ranger.

Since signing up for the challenge, I wanted to see Back on My Feet at work, so I have run several times at one of the Boston locations. The residents and the volunteers do an amazing job and the benefit to those participating is definitely apparent.

If after reading this you’d like to either a) support Back on My Feet or b) bet on how far I can run, please make a donation.


52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 50: Not too fa la la la la to go

When I showed up to the Jolly Jaunt 5K at the Boston Common in 2011, I stood out like a sore thumb because I was decked out in a pink beanie in a sea of red and green. I didn’t really learn my lesson in 2012. The pink beanie is long gone (I can’t seem to find it. Sniff), but I arrived in my usual slightly absurd winter running outfit with nary a festive hue on me. Oops. Sore thumb alert.

Jolly Jaunt 2012

Red and green was nowhere to be seen on my person (trust me).

More troublingly, I also showed up incredibly late, thanks to some uncharacteristic misreading of the MBTA Trip Planner. If Hubby hadn’t been away Guarding, it’s unlikely this lateness would have occurred. Firstly, we would have been driving rather than public transiting, and secondly, we would have been there 90 minutes before—because Hubby refuses to turn up to a run any later than that. I mock him for it mercilessly (we spend large chunks of time waiting/napping in the car having woken up at 5.30am), but we never, ever have to line up.

I recognized the prudence in his approach when I was standing in a 30-deep line of people to get my bib 20 minutes before the start of the run while crazed volunteers ran around trying to locate bibs and T-shirts. It’s probably a commonplace fiasco at a large event such as this; I’ve just never experienced it. (Because I picked up my bib in a previous geologic age.)

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52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 33: An amazing cause and an almost-triumph

We’ve done our fair share of races over the past six months – some tiny, some huge, some with purpose and others that felt soulless and corporate. The ones that stand out for me are usually the small events that have a great charity attached (like the Brian K. Betts 5K). They are more about the cause and less about the running. Which is good, because I am generally pretty crap at the running.

This past weekend we did the 1st Annual “Be Like Brit” 5K in Rutland, MA. There’s a tragic story behind this race. In 2010, 19-year-old Lynn University student Britney Gengel traveled to Haiti to work at an orphanage there. The day after she arrived, Britney, three of her fellow students, and two professors were killed in the massive earthquake that struck the country.

In Britney’s memory, her family established Be Like Brit to build a “safe, nurturing and sustainable orphanage” in Haiti. We saw Britney’s mother at the run. It’s truly amazing what that family has been through and what they’re doing now. We were more than happy to jump in the car in the very early morning to participate in this small but fantastic event. Hopefully it’s the first of many.

Be Like Brit 5K

Cop car marks the start.

It was a lovely, cool, cloudy day (finally!). The rain threatened to show up but never did. The run was point-to-point, so there were some logistics to overcome (car at start or finish? We chose finish), but other than that it was perfect. Did I mention it was mostly downhill?

Be Like Brit 5K

Rural running.

I felt pretty strong from the start. Sneaking glances at my pace, I was excited to see I was consistently in the nines. Hmmmm, could this be the day I go under 30? I tried to pick things up when I saw the timing clock in the distance, and when I realized the first number was 29 I really started to motor (as much as I can motor). But alas, I was just over 30. No PR – I did that in Lake George in April, although I have my suspicions about the accuracy of that result – but I was thrilled to be heading in the right direction again (forward, that is). That heat really is a momentum killer.

Be Like Brit 5K

It’s gotten more purple since this photo was taken. Who needs nail polish …?

Oh, and did I mention the big toe? I have been running with an injured nail ever since the Mad Half Marathon walk a few weeks back. It oscillates between a mild throb and an excruciating stab (who knew something so small could be so painful). I’m in denial about it possibly falling off.

I do feel like it’s boosted my hard-core score by a number of points. If I can run close to 30 with this bum nail, surely I can kick 30’s butt if it ever goes back to normal? Sadly, I don’t think the going-back-to-normal part of that equation is going to happen before the half-marathon I am supposedly running in Vancouver in two weeks’ time. Eeeek.

A radio host from WXLO (one of the sponsors) did the post-run announcing for this event and he was fabulous. Race directors do amazing jobs, but sometimes the mic best belongs in the hands of a pro.

The event: Be Like Brit 5K
The location:
Rutland, MA
The date: July 29, 2012
My time: 30.04 (pace: 9.40)
Hubby’s time:
19.43 (pace 6.20; 5th overall!)
The cause:
Be Like Brit
The T-shirt:
White cotton
The aftermath: Bananas, apples, DIY bagels with cream cheese and peanut butter

52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 31: Short and sweet

We live just south of Boston, but you wouldn’t know it from all the time we spend gallivanting around other states. So it’s nice to occasionally do a run that doesn’t involve a 4am start, a tank of gas, and a stay at the Hampton Inn (I swear we are becoming known).

It doesn’t get more Boston than the Jim Kane Sugar Bowl, which celebrated its 25th year last week. I love an evening run. This one was still really hot though (we may as well be living in Phoenix right about now), but at least it was a tired, on-its-way-out kind of hot.

Jim Kane Sugar Bowl

Nice night for it.

I never in my life thought I would say this, but I was so happy the event was only a 5K. After the toe-pummeling half-marathon walk and eight-miler of the past two weeks, I was ready for something easier. (Not that a 5K will ever really be easy for me.)

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52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 25: Too hot by half

One very overdue post. Better late than never, eh?

Endurance, you are dead to me. You abandon me right when I need you, like when it’s 82 degrees and I’m running up a hill and it feels as though my head is about to pop off.

This pretty much sums up the run I did the weekend before last (before I had to unexpectedly return to Australia), the Halfway 5K, in Canton, MA – No. 25 in my 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge. (And yes, I’m disappointed that we didn’t time this one to fall at No. 26, halfway into the challenge. That would have been clever, no?)

It was a splendid day for a 5K. Maybe a little too splendid. (When someone says “it’s a perfect day for a run,” I die a little inside. These perfect days usually mean cloud-less skies, piercing sun, and soaring temperatures. Which for me means one thing: sweaty beet-face.)

Halfway 5K

A gorgeous day for it.

Notwithstanding my ridiculous intolerance to heat, I was thrilled that the organizers of the Halfway had won the weather lottery, as it no doubt helped them attract about 1,200 runners to their cause: Cops for Kids With Cancer, which is a wonderful organization that sports a truly awesome logo.

The turnout was all the more impressive given that this was an inaugural run. We turned up expecting your typical smallish neighborhood event – with a Vita Coco stand, perhaps (there is always a Vita Coco stand) – but this was nothing of the sort. There were freshly grilled turkey tips! And offerings of Sam Adams beer! And cups of free coffee! And frozen yogurt popsicles! And can you tell I love this kind of stuff?!

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