Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Springs A Comin'...one puddle at a time!

After the longest winter of my life (figuratively and literally!), I've never been happier for the onset of Spring. Yet as days continue to grow and the calendar pages continue to turn, one thing I've noticed is the landscape here in northwest Iowa has remained that same, boring color--white!

Today officially marks the breaking of a 30+ year record of days with high temperatures below 40 degrees. The last day Sioux City recorded a temperatures warmer than that was Dec. 1 2009. However, this week has brought promise to coming of a new season. As you look around Siouxland, we're seeing something accumulating on the ground that isn't snow--it's water. As temperatures have started to climb above freezing, our massive snow pack has started to shrink and with that, plenty of streams and puddles have started to congregate along city streets and sidewalks. This has made me have an interesting realization about the part of the country where I currently reside. In most cities I've lived in, the marking of Spring begins with greener grass and budding flowers and trees. Here in the upper Midwest, we start to believe in the idea of Spring not when we see a flowering tulip, but instead a growing puddle! It's an interesting concept, but trust me, I've never been so happy to splash through water in my life!

The STL! Go Half marathon is now only 6 weeks away. While it's officially warm enough to run in shorts (+30 degrees), I still keep on a jacket and gloves to keep my upper body warm. My right foot continues to ache in excruciating pain but as I'm too afraid from what a doctor might tell me, I've opted to stick to a regiment of ibuprofen and ice until after the race. We just began fundraising last week and are already off to a great start! Hopefully the coming weeks will continue to prove that hard work and determination really can help you make a difference.
As always, Happy Running!

Oh and here is a link to the new Team Nancy ACS website. Check it out!


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Finding Motivation

I know it's a little trite to complain about the weather when you're a "weatherman", but man has this winter been rough! All along, I knew I would never run marathons in the spring--mainly because it's nearly impossible to run long distances during an Iowa Winter. With nearly 60" of snow since October and temperatures ranging as cold as -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 with windchill) it's truly a death defying stunt to run outside in the elements. Your only other option? Running on a rotating tread, staring at a muted TV, and praying that 10 minutes have gone by in the past 5!

I had hoped that a shorter race, a half marathon, might be slightly easier to train for during the barren months on this god forsaken tundra. Low and behold, I was mistaken...

I thought I would attach a quick list of things I've learned trying to run during an Iowa Winter:
--It's acceptable to run when it's 10 degrees outside as long as you have a hat and gloves (previous to this winter, I wouldn't venture outside to run if it was below 25 degrees)
--I've mastered the event known as the steeplechase! Hopping over 2 foot snow drifts when crossing streets really makes you sympathize for those type of runners
--Slushy snow = stained running clothes
--Tracks are meant to be larger than 10 laps = 1 mile
--and finally, never train for a marathon in an Iowa Winter!!

The worst thing that comes with day after day of clouds, snow, and wind is motivation. A couch with a blanket and a hot cup of tea sounds much more appetizing than a gym that must be reached by crossing a frozen parking lot. But when it comes down to it, as long as I remember why I'm running, I can convince myself it's 80 degrees and sunny. I'm running to raise money for a cause that has effected my so deeply, so personally. And it's that cause that helps me get through blizzard after blizzard, with Spring in sight.

Temperatures this week are going to be steady in the middle 20s--warmth at last!

(P.S. I figured the new picture did my suffering a little more justice!)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

We Finished...3 months later!

So if you were following this blog you might have realized that it fell by the wayside within a month before the race. I'm not sure if it was the long miles being put in by the end or the loss of brain cells from dehydration, but the ball was dropped on the progress of training as the marathon neared. So I've decided to bring you back up to date on what was one of the most memorable weekends of my life...

Marathon race weekend was the weekend of October 11th and what a weekend it was. It was weekend full of family, friends, carbs, and miles. Being a pseudo Chicagoan these days, it wasn't a big deal for me to see the sights and sounds of the city the weekend of the race. I figured 26 miles through the streets of the city would fill my touristy nature and let me see Chicago as most people never have seen. However, with friends and family in town, of course we had to do a little wandering. Friday night, Lauren and her family came in town and they were craving pizza. Considering pizza is one Kelly's 4 food groups, we had no problem recommending a few local hot spots to grab a slice. Thinking back, I'm pretty sure we settled on Uno's, but I could be wrong. Either way, the Chicago style pizza was delicious and did more than enough to put me in a food coma for the evening. Saturday was manly spent dealing with the Marathon expo--making sure our racing chips were set and having all the necessities we needed to complete the marathon the next day. It was amazing seeing all the runners the day before the race, everyone with the same amount of anticipation to what was to come the following morning. Even though I had trained supplement free, I started to become paranoid that afternoon that my body might shut down if I didn't have something to provide energy and calories as I was nearing the finish line. I ended up buying these Listerine type strips that dissolved in your mouth while providing your body with the necessary nourishment to complete the race. After hours of moving from booth to booth, we gathered and things--Race Time T- 18 hours and counting. That night, everyone finally was in town and just like the nights before high school cross country meets, we had a pasta party at Kelly's apartment. Even though the cardinals were booted out of the playoffs, it was still a night to remember.

Our alarms were set to 5 AM the next morning and Lauren and I hopped out of bed, had some oatmeal and peanut butter toast, and were on our way to the El station. I've ridden the El a thousand times and never have I experienced a trip like this. At 530AM the El was packed to capacity. I would assume that usually at this hour, people riding the train can barely keep their eyes open. But this was a different moment. Wide eyed, nervous runner filled the seats and aisles, and everyone rushed off at the same spot, headed to their tents and then the starting line for the race.

Sadly I don't remember the time the race started--I believe it was 730AM. However, one thing I haven't forgotten was the starting temperature. As the gun shot and the slow sea of runners slowly started to move, the thermometer read 32 degrees (Holy Cold!). Luckily, the view of the sun rising over Lake Michigan and the mob of runners expanding into the Chicago skyline made up and more for the chilly temperatures.

Mile to mile, Lauren and I kept an incredible pace and definitely passed a few things we aren't soon to forget. From a bridge lined with men going to the bathroom, to male cheer leading squads and runners dressed as Barney and Fred, the sights and sounds definitely kept our minds busy, not allowing us to remember the long distance ahead. High-fiving as we past each mile marker, every minute was a minute closer to the finish line.

4 hours, 5 minutes, 12 seconds (and one bathroom stop later), Lauren and I finished the race. We accomplished what we had sought out to do and more--finish our first marathon and do our part to raise money for the American Cancer Society. I know my mom must have been looking down on us at the moment, so proud to see what her son and her family had accomplished. We ended up raising over $4,000 for the ACS, surpassing our goal by nearly double!

So you might be wondering, "Why 3 + months after the race are you picking the blog back up". Well friends, while that adventure is over, the quest carries on. Our next mission? The GO! St. Louis half marathon in April. You might have noticed that we've chosen a half instead of a whole marathon this time. Let's just say with almost 50" of snow since December 1st and an average temperature of around 20 degrees, I thought a half marathon was more than courageous enough. While Lauren won't be joining me this time, I've recruited another set of determined runners to help out in the fight against cancer. One mile at a time, we're going to do our best to bring awareness to this terrible disease and hopefully raise a little money in the process to go to Cancer research and care.

So who's joining me this time? This time around, a few more Roberts have jumped on the wagon. My twin sister Ashley and older brother Drew have both decided to run it. Neither of them have ever run long distances so it's definitely inspiring to see them take on the challenge. Another family member, our cousin Ali, is training all the way in Connecticut to fly in race weekend and run with us as well. The only person who has run the course before and will be joining us is my partner in crime and girlfriend Kelly. And then we continue to recruit other friends to join Team Nancy and join the fight against cancer.

So as training continues and I continue to hurdle over 3 foot snow drifts (no joke), I'll keep this blog going. I'll do my best to keep you up to date on the trials and tribulations that come along with training for the half and hopefully tell a few stories along the way. Running truly is the only thing I've ever discovered that can take everything that has happened in a day, and make it seem insignificant. A therapy of sorts that even for just an hour makes my life seem so much more peaceful. It's this therapy that has helped me get through the death of my mom and I plan on using it race after race to raise money to find a cure for cancer.

Until next time, Happy Running!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


There is not much in my life that really makes me feel gratified these days. I'm in job I don't necessarily love and wonder every day if I should be doing something else. I'm in a relationship that spans 500 miles across the country and only get to see my girlfriend twice a month(however it is definitely worth it). The only thing in my life currently that gives me that sense of gratification, that feeling of "making a difference" is this marathon. There is something about being out on the road, running for countless miles with no end in sight, that really brings you back down to earth. And whenever I look up towards the sky, I'm always reminded why I'm putting my body though this. I remember that somehow, some way, this 26.2 mile race is going to help in the arduous, endless battle for life that cancer puts patients through. And deep down, that makes me feel good. When I started this cause and this mission, I had one goal and one person in mind. I wanted to raise money in honor of my mom whose life was cut entirely to short. However, along the way I continue to be inspired by others stories and others fights, some won and some lost. The latest two involve a man I never met and a girl who I would consider more than an acquaintance, but a friend.

Sean Swarner was diagnosed with cancer not once, but twice in his lifetime. And guess what? Both were before the age of 18! At one point, this young man was given 14 weeks of life left to live. Can you imagine what would go through your mind if you learned that in 14 weeks, 98 days, 2352 hours, your life would cease to exist. Most would panic, some would cry. Sean did neither. He instead decided he was going to beat cancer and he did exactly that. But what's even more inspirational is that other than being able to live a normal, cancer free existence, Sean wanted more. He decided he wanted to make a difference in the world and put his cancer-prone childhood to use. Sean decided he would be the first cancer survivor to climb Mt. Everest--and he did exactly that. With a flag inscribed with the names of countless cancer patients, he climbed to the top of the world with a mission for others to not suffer as greatly as he did. You can read his story yourself in his book "Keep Climbing". His story inspires me everyday and reminds me that my cause isn't hopeless. That together we all can make a difference.

So who is the inspirational girl I've written about. Her name is Sarah Jo Prewitt. Unfortunately she did not live long enough to know I was writing this post. Sarah Jo was a friend of mine from Mizzou who was a part of Tour Team. She was one of those people who always went out of her way to help someone and could never be found without a smile. As the saying goes, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Near the end of my junior year of college, Sarah Jo was diagnosed with a rare case of Leukemia. I will never forget sitting next to her at an end of the year BBQ at our bosses house and having a conversation with her. She was complaining about the fact the she had a cold and for some reason couldn't seem to shake it. Of course she said all of this with a smile and wasn't going to let it ruin her good time. I'm sure she never thought this would be the beginning of a disease that would steal her life. Through everything--from the fight for her life, to her fight to return to Mizzou, she never gave up. After she went into remission, bloated and hairless, she had no shame returning to school. Even though she was bald and much heavier than before she left, she lived out her college life in true college fashion and graduated. Sarah Jo was accepted into Mizzou's law program but didn't survive long enough to make it to her first day. I found out that Sarah Jo passed away this past Sunday morning. We weren't the greatest of friends and never hung out outside the office, but Sarah Jo was someone special, someone who was meant to make a difference in this world.

These stories continue to drive me to succeed. Whenever I start to wonder why I'm doing this, I think of these people and they give me the drive I need to cross that finish line. This past Thursday I ran 18 miles--my longest run to date. It was by far one of the hardest things I've ever done. Something about pushing your body to that magnitude isn't natural. However, when my muscles start to cramp and legs begin to tighten up, I just think of the pain these people must have went through. That's all I need to shake away the fear and continue on. Assuming I make it through this first marathon, I wouldn't be surprised if this is the beginning of something I continue to do for a long time.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Half Way There!!

Can you believe it? This weekends long run was 13 miles--exactly half way. It was hard to think that after finishing that run, in a race I would still have half to go. But you know you've ran a long way when your saying to yourself "only 3 more miles"! Nevertheless, this was an amazing run and an amazing feat in my running life. In my endless search of finding places to run in Sioux City, I eventually gave up and decided to run along one of the main roads and just do a "there and back". I parked at a McDonald's in the middle of town--which might I add was not a good idea. Finishing 13 miles with only a few pieces of melon in your stomach and seeing the sight of a "2 for 3$" breakfast deal in the window is hard to stomach. What I would have given to had my wallet on me and devour the tasty goodness of two sausage egg mcmuffins and a hash brown. Then again, it's probably not a good idea to fill your stomach with fat and grease after such a hard exercise. Anyways, I ran out of the city to what eventually became the country and talk about beautiful. There's something about running under a cloudless sky at 8AM in the middle of no where that really makes you love life. There was nothing around me but pasture, cornstalks, and horses at the turnaround (oh and did I mention llamas??). Other than a few cars and trucks, I was all by myself for a good 4 miles. If you were wondering exactly what animals I ran by (which I know you were!), I saw a pony, a lot of horses, 2 (yes two) alpacas, some very noisy chickens and roosters, a doe and 3 fawn, and a dead cat. That last one was right in my way and made me jump back a few feet. Of course eventually I wandered back into town, into the traffic (at least what traffic there was at 930 on a Saturday) and back to civilization. Ahh to live in I-O-W-A...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


As many of you know, with the downsizing of my station, my duties as meteorologist have been expanded into shooting video and reporting as well. While I usually shoot at least 4 stories a week, it's not very often that one resonates with me. They usually are about a speaker visiting a school or a ground breaking for a non-profit. However, today's story made me realize that cancer hasn't only affected the Roberts and friends of Nancy, it affects everyone.

As I left 100 Gold Circle Dr. (KMEG) this morning, I was headed to the Mary Treglia Community house, a non for profit organization that helps impoverished kids, teaches ESL, and even aids with immigrants becoming citizens of the United States. I was given the press release before I left and I was going to shoot video of a kid name Michael. Michael was attempting to become an Eagle Scout and had completely remodeled and re-built the preschool room for this community house. I was never a boy scout, nor did I ever want to be. However, I know of the significance and honor of becoming an eagle scout so I expected something pretty impressive.

When I arrived, I walked into an open house full of boy scouts and business owners who had help fund the project. The director took me back to the room and it was outstanding. The once barren, gray cinder-blocked, windowless room had been transformed into a fairytale castle. Murals of wildlife, seasons, and animals covered the walls and lots of new furniture had been built. I started chatting with Michael's mom as I was setting up the interview, chatting about what her son had accomplished. I asked her basic questions. Why he chose to do this. How much longer he had before becoming an eagle scout. The importance of her son becoming an eagle scout. As she began to answer my questions, I noticed her pause and a tear began to run down her face. Her husband had been diagnosed with cancer and only had 6 months to live. Neither of her two sons had reached eagle scout and Michael desperately wanted to do so before his father passed away. I stopped then, not trying to pry any further. This wasn't even the part of the story I was shooting. I was just there to cover the impressive efforts of a boy trying to improve his community. And yet this complete stranger had opened up to me telling me about her dying husband. Once it came time for the interview, Michael reiterated the same point, letting me know that his dad had cancer and was dying and was hoping he would become an eagle scout before then. Chills ran through my body because I knew exactly what this family was about to go through.

This isn't the only time I have covered a story that dealt with this. Around the holidays, there was a boy named Armstrong Zortman who couldn't have been older than 5 years old. He had been diagnosed with brain cancer early in his life and his family was raising money to pay for surgeries their insurance wouldn't cover and they couldn't afford. I become close with the grandfather while shooting and had explained to them I was right there with them, dealing with my mom's own struggle with cancer. The Zortmans were extremely grateful for us helping them and the next morning when I arrived at work I had a gift waiting for me at my desk. It was a shirt they had printed that said "Cancer Sucks" with a note from Mr. Zortman. It was a shirt they were selling to help raise money, but he wanted me to have knowing that we soldiers in the same fight. Once again, a complete stranger opening up as we shared the same battle for life.

It's situations like these that make you grateful for what you have. I was young when my mom died, only 23. But Michael will most likely be fatherless by the age of 14. About two weeks after my interview with the Armstrong family, I received an email from the grandfather saying he received a text from his daughter early that morning saying "Armstrong has his wings". Armstrong had died before they were able to get him to surgery. His parents will never get to experience things my mom was able to experience with not just me, but four children.

This fight against cancer seems to bring people together in the most amazing ways. It seems like everyone somehow is connected to someone who has won, lost, or is fighting cancer. It's this that connects all of us, and is why it's important to find a cure.

I'm not just running and raising money for my mom. It's for everyone who has to go through or watch someone battle through cancer. Hopefully the money Lauren and I are able to raise will one day make these situations much more positive. Hopefully in 10, 20, or 30 years down the road, children like Armstrong and men like Michael's father will be able to fight their terminal cancer and live to tell the tale. It's stories like these and the memories of my mom that keep me going every day. Saturday will be my longest run yet--12 miles. BRING IT ON!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Nothing Is Coming To Mind

I've been waiting for something very insightful or witty to come to mind before I decided to write again. Unfortunately, two weeks since my last post, nothing has come to mind.

I made an interesting comparison this weekend that really made me re-think the town I live in. Last weekend, as I was running along the Chicago lake front, I was among thousands of runners and bicyclists. Everyone was extremely friendly and out early getting their morning exercise to start out the weekend. Young, old, and four legged alike, all types of people we're enjoying the summer sun and lake front breeze. This weekend, back in Sioux City, my run was relatively simple. It was a step back week so I had to only run 7 miles (only 7 miles?, haven't been able to say that in a while). I decided instead of getting on a trail, I would run down town and back along the major thorough-fairs of Sioux City, hoping to pass some fellow joggers along the way. Guess how many people I passed?? 6! On a beautiful, sunny, and generally cool Saturday for this time in July, it's a little disheartening to only pass 4 people along the roads. What does that say about where I live or the people that live here? I understand that Chicago is much bigger than my small home in Northwest Iowa, but I hoped that there would be more people out on the same mission I was--exercise!

Anyways, no reason to complain. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect morning to go for a run. Too another issue, I am currently debating the issue of I-pod or no I-pod for the marathon that is still more than 2 months away. Any suggestions? Right now, I'm leaning towards no Ipod. That's all I have this week. Nothing to insightful or deep. Hopefully I'll be inspired later this week to post something with a little more meaning. 2 months and 23 days left to go!!

Oh and other than running, we passed another mile stone this weekend. It's now been 2 months since my mother passed away. Wow, where does the time go! Miss you and love you Mom.

Keep Supporting Team Nancy!