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Posts from the ‘Fitness’ Category

One 3-Day Leads to Another…

September 29th, 2013

Lisa Dawson

3-Day walker

Last weekend I volunteered at the Seattle 3-Day walk as a member the Route Safety crew (here’s a terrific event summary).

2013 Seattle 3-Day Route Safety

Route Safety is responsible for, well, keeping the walkers safe on the route. The crew is made up of two dozen bicyclists and motorcyclists who head out with the first walker each morning, and stay on the route until the last walkers make their way into camp at the end of the day. It makes for a long day (I’m not even going to mention the HILLS) but it’s a lot of fun and you couldn’t ask for a better group to work with.


This was my third time volunteering (I’ve walked twice) and once again I was completely affected by the love, grace, friendship and courage of everyone I encountered:

  • I talked to a young mother whose cancer has spread to her brain, and watched as her friends – The Faithful Fighters – pushed her wheelchair 60 miles to make sure she could finish her 3-Day
  • I met a woman with late-stage, metastatic cancer who flew from Arizona to Seattle to walk with her sister and spend precious time with her family
  • I saw my friend Tracy, in between chemo treatments and surrounded by the formidable Team Tracy, celebrate raising more than $100k to fight this disease

I should have seen it coming.

The 3-Day is a life-changing experience no matter how many times you participate. I think I had forgotten how much I love this event, how it sneaks into your system and compels you to do something to fight this awful disease. I decided I needed to walk.

I registered for the San Diego 3-Day in November.

I’ll need some help: I’m going to be walking every weekend for the next six weeks and would love some company. And I will need to meet the $2300 fundraising minimum, so anything you can do to help there will be greatly appreciated. This will be my third time walking – I’ve done this before and I know, with your help, I can do it again!

Help me reach my goal for the Susan G. Komen Seattle 3-Day

p.s. 15 people graciously agreed to share their tattoos on the blog – photos coming soon!

2012 Seattle Marathon is in the Bag. What’s Next?

January 27th, 2013

Lisa Dawson

Seattle Marathon finisher!

I’m a little late in my recap, but… I did it! And it was fun!

The 2012 Seattle Marathon was drenched in fog, but the rain stayed away and temperature remained above freezing. My friend Mary reminded me to be loose, light and stick to my plan. That became my mantra, and whenever I thought about mixing it up a little, I reminded myself to run like I trained. I actually felt really good at the end (which is a good thing for someone who’s concerned about their heart) and finished with just one blister and all my toenails intact.

There were about 20 other runners wearing their orange NYC marathon shirts – we exchanged waves and nods in acknowledgement of our shared experience in the Big Apple.

I know I said I’d never do another marathon, so I’ll blame it on post-race euphoria: I registered for December’s Honolulu Marathon. A great excuse for a family vacation, right? I’m also registered for the Hot Chocolate 5K in March and the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in June.

Any suggestions for another half in October?

NYC Marathon Becomes a Lesson in Leadership and Flexibility

November 3rd, 2012

Lisa Dawson

You’ve probably heard the New York City marathon was canceled yesterday, about 36 hours before runners were to board buses to the start line on Staten Island. The decision was the culmination of four days of controversy and called into question the civic and moral responsibilities and leadership of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg.

It’s hard to gauge the degree of devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy from my room near Central Park. There are hotel vacancies, businesses are up and running, and transportation is readily available. It’s not until you watch the constant local news coverage of the situation in Staten Island, Lower Manhattan and other areas that you realize how badly hurt this city is.

Bloomberg and Wittenberg thought the marathon would be a unifying event for the city, a way to show resiliency as it did after 9/11. But many people expressed concern that areas most heavily impacted by the storm were not getting critical support. They believed race organizers had a responsibility to donate food and generators to the recovery efforts. In some cases, runners had reservations for hotel rooms that others felt should be used for displaced people. The race was dividing the city.

It should have been canceled. No question.

But it the decision should have been made on Tuesday, not Friday afternoon. After the storm passed, runners from around the world anxiously waited to hear whether or not the race would go on as planned. We trusted city leadership and the event organizers to make a decision in the best interest of the city and its residents.

Many runners had their flights canceled and others chose to withdraw because they didn’t feel right about running. My sisters and I arrived on Thursday thinking recovery efforts were well under way, but as we watched the news, we too began to question the decision to run. I also felt a conflicting sense of responsibility to my charity and to everyone who supported me in getting here.

It’s hard for someone who’s never trained for a marathon to understand how big of a an emotional let down this is. Runners train for months for an event, especially in the weeks leading up to the race. Strenuous training plans are created and followed. Plane fares and lodging deposits are paid well in advance. Add to that the reassurance of the city that there would be no disruption to the recovery efforts and that the city needed the marathon’s $340M economic boost.

We wanted to believe it could happen.

This experience has evoked every emotion imaginable: Nervous excitement before running a big race. Guilt because I really wanted to run but wasn’t sure if I should. Desire to help with the recovery efforts. Frustration that I’ve spent a lot of money and used vacation time on a trip to a city where I don’t feel welcome. Relief because Mayor Bloomberg and the NYRR finally made the decision for me. Sadness because this race had so much personal significance.

After a brief pity party I did a little re-evaluation of my running situation.

Last night I registered for the Seattle Marathon on November 25. I’ll join the marathoners who are running laps around Central Park tomorrow, but stop at 17 miles and do another taper over the next three weeks. I may be running the full 26.2 in my city, but I’ll be wearing my New York marathon shirt.

My sisters and I have three full days left of our NYC vacation. Our plans are to explore the city, catch a show and hopefully volunteer with one of the relief organizations.

It’s not what we planned, but it promises to be memorable.

NYC Marathon, Hurricane Sandy & A Shift in Fundraising

October 31st, 2012

Lisa Dawson

A lot of people have asked me if I’m still running the New York City marathon in light of the Hurricane Sandy devastation.

Yes, I’m headed to New York and I plan on running.

As I write this, my Thursday morning flight to Newark is still on schedule. Current reports indicate the marathon will occur, so my sister and I will be running on Sunday. If it gets canceled? Well, we’ll hang out in the city and see if there’s anything we can do to help with cleanup and recovery.

To be honest, I was a bit on the fence about whether or not the race should be canceled. But I figure if the organizers and city determine it’s feasible, I’m in. I’ve been training for the past 6 months, my plane ticket has been purchased and I’m sensitive to the financial hit the small B&B we’re staying at would take if we were to cancel.

Fundraising Update

Thanks to generous donations from my friends and family, I surpassed the Fred’s Team fundraising minimum and raised $4500! For those of you who intended to donate but haven’t had a chance to do so, I’d like to suggest you direct your donation to one of the food banks in New York City. I asked my Brooklyn-based friend Caryn who she would recommend, and she pointed me to Food Bank for New York City (formerly Second Harvest) or Greenpoint Church’s Soup Kitchen & Pantry.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far on my NYC marathon adventure. I’ll keep you posted!

My Favorite Running Fuel, Hydration & Gear

October 27th, 2012

Lisa Dawson

Labor Day Half

A big part of marathon training is figuring out what you’ll need on race day. The first real test of my approach to gear, fuel and hydration was the Labor Day Half, which ran on a new course and had some logistical kinks to work out. Since then, I’ve had two months to fine tune my plans for the NYC Marathon on November 4.


Most sports drinks hurt my stomach, so I use Hammer’s Endurolyte capsules for electrolyte replacement when running for more than an hour. I also started adding half a Nuun strawberry lemonade tablet to plain water, which helps with taste and provides some additional sodium and potassium.

I always carry water when training, but had never brought my own to an event, leaving me at the mercy of whatever is provided. The half marathon I ran on Labor Day didn’t have water at regular intervals, and the water they did have tasted like yuck. I’ll definitely carry some in New York.


It’s important to consume calories when exercising for hours and hours. After experimenting with different energy bars, wafers and gels, I remain a fan of Honey Stinger Gold. They’re not as thick as some of the other gels and don’t leave an unpleasant residue in your mouth. I use one every 45 minutes on my runs.

So many people swear by caffeine when running, I thought I’d try a Hammer gel (with a whopping 50mg of caffeine) on one of my long runs. My body sort of wigged out. I switched to Gu Just Plain which has 20mg of caffeine and gives a nice bump in energy without nasty side effects. I’ll bring a couple to New York for mile 17 or 23 (or both).


I discovered Endurox when training for a 150-mile bike ride while pregnant with my second child. In addition to keeping my heart rate in check, my doctor wanted to make sure I stayed well-hydrated. The nice folks at Pacific Health Labs recommended a recovery drink in addition to a sports beverage, so I tried their Endurox. If there were a magic elixir for post-run recovery, Endurox would be it.

Running Belt

The SPI belt with gel loops is great for mid-distance runs, but I need to carry water in addition to my iPhone on the longer ones. I have an Amphipod RunLite hydration belt that I’ve used for years, and recently swapped out the pouch it came with for the ballistic endurance pouch (thanks to Tim at West Seattle Runner for the tip). I’ll wear the Amphipod with two 8 oz. water bottles in New York.

Other Gear

  • My trusty Garmin Forerunner 305 sports watch tracks distance, pace, heart rate (with included strap) and calories burned, and syncs with my computer. I’ve had it for about five years and think it may be on its way out, so I’ll be looking for a new one soon.
  • Saucony Hurricane 14 shoes offer a high degree of stability and come in wide sizes. My only beef with these (and this applies to running shoe companies in general) is that styles are updated every freakin’ year and sometimes the fit changes too. So the shoe your feet fall in love with may go away. Grr.
  • Native Dash SS sunglasses have interchangeable lenses for varying degrees of light and visibility. I’ve worn this style for 6 years. Love them.

I think I’ve got a good plan in place for the marathon on the 4th, but I’m always looking for new things to try.

What’s your favorite running fuel or gear?


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Marathon Training: Miles & Miles of Gratitude

October 8th, 2012

Lisa Dawson

Saturday marked the peak of my NYC Marathon training: The 20-mile run.

There’s a lot of time to think when you’re running 20 miles, and it’s easy for the mind to dwell on the stuff that makes training hard. This week I made a concerted effort to focus on some of the things that have helped make it easier:

  • Friends: I’ve had so many people offer support and words of encouragement and I appreciate every single one of you. You have no idea how much it helps during the long runs… those Facebook likes go a long way!
  • Family: My sister Dana talked me into this and has no doubt that I’ll be able to pull it off, even when I worry that I’m not putting in enough miles or that I’ll be ridiculously slow. My sister Erika is coming to New York to cheer us on. My husband Tom is doing way more than his share of parenting while I run (and recover). And my two sons, who cheer me on and aren’t grossed out by the callouses and blisters on my feet.
  • Donors: It’s a completely different training experience when you’re doing it for a cause. It may sound cliche, but this is much more than me running a bajillion miles. I feel a sense of responsibility to meet my commitment to Fred’s Team, and to everyone who’s donated on my behalf. As of this weekend, I’ve raised over $2250 in donations from family and friends!
  • Matching gifts: Microsoft, Starbucks and The Gates Foundation will donate an additional $1000 to my efforts. A big thank you to these local companies for recognizing and encouraging employee contributions.
  • Fred’s Team: Being a West coast member of the team means I don’t participate in the group runs, but I appreciate the weekly training tips and the extra support they’ll provide at the event.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has helped me reach this milestone.

My runs over the next four weeks will taper down in distance, culminating with the marathon on November 4. I can’t wait!

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Ovarian Cancer Sucks Way More Than Running

September 30th, 2012

Lisa Dawson

teal ribbon

Yesterday’s 16 mile training run sort of sucked.

I’ve been dealing with hip pain related to my sciatic nerve for the past two weeks and I’m seeing a physical therapist. As a result, I’ve had to slow the pace of my training down a bit, but… the NYC marathon is in five weeks, and I need to stick to my running schedule.

The run started off poorly and really didn’t improve: I had a late start so it was warmer than I prefer; I was compensating for the pain in my right hip which resulted in a cramp in my left calf; I could feel hot spots on my feet where blisters were starting to form. But I really needed to get the miles in.

I had to dig deep.

I had to remind myself why I was running.

I watched my friend CJ fight stage four ovarian cancer for seven years. When I signed up for the marathon as a member of Fred’s Team, I agreed to raise money for research on a cancer of my choice and I chose ovarian cancer. This disease is particularly heinous because there is no accurate, standardized testing like there is for cervical or breast cancer.

Early detection is important for many reasons:

  • 7 in 10 women die within five years of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer
  • When caught in its earliest stages, treatment for ovarian cancer can result in survival rates as high as 90%
  • Because early symptoms are difficult to diagnose or go undetected, nearly 75% of ovarian cancer patients are diagnosed in advanced stages
  • The long-term survival rate for advanced ovarian cancer is only 10%

I kept going yesterday because ovarian cancer sucks way more than running.

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Another Sunday, Another Training Run

August 19th, 2012

Lisa Dawson

Celebrating CJ Taylor

Distance running is hard.

I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those runners who gets into a “zone” a couple miles into a long run, finishing with the feeling they’ve got more miles left in them. Nope, I’m acutely aware of every single hill, every single mile. With 11 weeks until the New York City Marathon, the training runs are getting longer.

On the bright side, I’m getting into a groove with my fuel, hydration and footwear. I’m feeling pretty good about November 4.

Today’s run was filled with gratitude for many things:

  • My supporters – There’s been a few Are you crazy? reactions (I frequently ask this of myself), but mostly it’s been Go Lisa! Their faith in me and support of this cause spurs me on when I feel like I can’t run another step. There’s no way I could do this without them.
  • My running playlistLadykillers by Lush, Bring It On by Seal (don’t judge) and The Spinanes’ Kid in Candy were some of today’s highlights. Creator by Santigold got me the closest to that elusive running zone. I need to find more songs like that one.
  • Endurolytes – I have a hard time stomaching sports drinks while I run, so these electrolyte replacement capsules (taken with plain water) are a godsend.
  • Honey Stingers Gold – These little packets of magic will probably be on every update.

Today’s run also had me thinking a lot about the wonderful friends of CJ Taylor. August 14 was the anniversary of CJ’s death and a group of us met for beer, pizza and lots of CJ memories.

Celebrating CJ Taylor

She was an amazing woman, and she had a way of bringing amazing people together to do good work. I’m especially grateful to have these people in my life.

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New York Marathon… Here I Come!

August 5th, 2012

Lisa Dawson

Fred's Team

So my sister talked me into running the New York marathon.

Dana’s a marathoner. You know, one of those women who consider a 15 mile run part of their normal weekend routine. I do not consider myself a runner, but I do like a personal challenge. The clincher was when my friend Brenda signed up. How could I say no?

I’ve done some endurance events in the past – 150-mile bike rides, a few triathlons and half marathons, and one full marathon in 2009. But I’m still getting into shape after dealing with that pesky blood clot in my heart last year, so…

I’m approaching November’s marathon with my focus on the experience, not the finish line.

Fred's TeamI missed the lottery for marathon entries, so I joined Fred’s Team and will be raising funds for ovarian cancer research. This disease is particularly heinous in that it usually doesn’t present symptoms until it’s at an advanced stage.

That was the case for my friend CJ, who lost her fight with ovarian cancer last summer. I’m running in her memory, and in the hope that the money I raise will help develop better screening methods and increase late-stage treatment options.

I’m also trying to appreciate my training runs, focusing on the things that make running a ridiculous number of miles a little easier.

Here’s what I appreciated on today’s run:

  • Injinji toe socks – 10 miles today and not a single blister. These socks are so worth the $16.
  • Honey Stingers Gold energy gels – no nasty aftertaste!
  • The hairband I bought at the Bay to Breakers expo in May. I have no idea who made it, but it’s the only hairband I own that doesn’t slip off when I exercise.

The running playlist I’ve been honing over the years is still doing its job. Today’s “keep on running” tunes included:

I plan on writing about my marathon experience up until the big event on November 4. I hope you’ll follow along and consider supporting my efforts – words of encouragement are just as important to me as that fundraising goal!

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