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!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Real Estate

8:15 AM Saturday Morning. I wake up, proud of myself for only having a few drinks at dinner the night before and still trying to figure out why anyone would name their son Jody (our iffeminate waiter). It's the fourth of July and outside my window, the sky is a bit ominous with dark clouds and looming rain. Good thing I only spent $5 on fireworks. I was dreading Saturday morning for a few reasons. Reason number 1: my legs were still tired from my previous runs during the week and I figured by now they would be completely used to the measly 3 and 4 mile training. Reason number 2: the long run on Saturday was finally more mileage than anything I was use to. Saturday training was a 9 mile run--something I hadn't done since high school cross country practice. I could just picture myself getting half through, panting for water, and having to stop and walk the rest.

I was excited to be in Kansas City though and excited to be able to run in a completely unfamiliar place. Nothing is worse than doing a long run and always knowing how far you've left to go. When that's the case, I catch myself worrying much more about when I will be done rather then enjoying my surrouding

I wake up, get my shoes, and go downstairs expecting directions to the route Mrs. Woodward had told me would be a good place to jog. The directions are no where to be found. Unfortunately for Kel, that means me going and waking her up at the crack of down for suggestions. In the hustle and bustle of me being a bit cranky and trying to figure out what to do, Kel's mom wakes up and decides they are going to be my own personal water girls/cheerleaders. We all hop in the car, water bottles in hand, and drive to Ward Parkway (you can't call it Ward, it makes Kansas Citians upset). It's time to start my run.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ward Parkway, it is one of the most beautiful streets in Kansas City. The street is lined with 100 year old mansions, making me feel as if I'm running through Greek Town at Mizzou. As I run my 9 miles, I notice myself deciding just which house I plan on living in some day. By the time I'm done, not only am I proud of myself for feeling great after finishing, but I've narrowed it down to 12 mansions. I ultimately decide that I'm going to live in the 2 car garage, brick Victorian at 55Th and Ward Parkway. The house is a much more modest size than its surrounding counter parts and overlooks a park and the plaza. No "For Sale" sign yet, but I'll keep my eyes open. Who knew running and real estate had so much in common?

** On another note, thank you too everyone who continues to donate money to the cause. We've now raised close to $1500 dollars, inching us that most closer to our $2000 goal. Keep up the great work!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Just another 3 miles...

This morning, as I was getting in my car, there was an amazing electric show above my head. Thunderstorms were sweeping through Siouxland which meant just one thing--ANXIETY!! While I used to enjoy the awesome powers of nature, everytime I now hear a roar of thunder or crack of lightning it is usually followed by me running to a RADAR to see if and when the storm will become severe. Part of my job is to know this, to be ready for this, so I can warn the public. This morning however, I was well aware of what was going on and just tried to enjoy the show above me.

On an average morning when clear skies are sleeping silently above my head, I sit down in front of the computer at work--usually around 3:10AM. I have a very set routine and the first thing I do is check my email. I try to be professional first and check my work mail inbox before I wander over to gmail. Since I've started this quest, there is always one email I can count on to be waiting for me bright and early. It's my training schedule. It lets me know exactly how far I'm going to run that afternoon, why I'm going to run that distance, and how it's going to prepare me for October 11 (which I totally just realized was a Sunday!) When I decided to run this marathon, the first thing I did was search for training programs that would help me somehow help me past the finish line after 26.2 miles. I knew people didn't do this on their own so there had to be professionaly made schedules that I could have access to.

Lets rewind just a second. Before I decided to run this marathon, I was putting away anywhere between 16-25 miles a week. Not a huge amount but more than most people can say they've ran during the average Monday through Sunday. Guess how many miles I've ran so far this week? 7.5! Crazy right?

I've decided to let Hal Higdon and his Novice Marathon Program teach me how to run a marathon. So why should I trust someone who on the third day of the third week of training has only had me run 7.5 miles so far this week. Well Hal has ran 8 times in the U.S. Olympic trials and was the founder of the Road Runners of America Club. Post college, Hal was able to run a 4.13.6 mile time. In his life time, Hal has ran 111 marathons and won 4 overall titles.

So Hal says this week I'll only run 15 miles... will do Hal, will do.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

One Week Down, 19 To Go!

It's 8:05PM and I've been laying in bed for almost an hour now trying to fall asleep. No, I haven't fallen into the lifestyle of a 70 year old man, yet it sometimes feels that way. Dinner at 4, and hour of TV afterwards, jello or pudding desert (not for the dentures, just better for you than ice cream haha), then time for bed. It seems a 70 year old man and a morning meteorologist have a lot in common. I have to wake up in exactly 6 hours. As I lay in bed, tired but not able to fall asleep, my mind always begins to wander. This tends to be the time of day where my mind focuses on what I've lost. Have you ever noticed that? When your mind starts to tire, you start to get much more emotional and nostalgic. As I said, this time of night seems to be when I think about my mom the most. A lot of the time, it's as if nothing has changed. Living so far from home, I've been removed from much of the morning process. Of course I still mourn, but being apart from family, friends, and St. Louis sometimes makes it feel a little more unreal. I would much rather it feel real.

It's a wierd feeling, to know that something you had for such a long time you will never have again. I try and picture my mom in my mind, but it always seems as if something's missing. I think the most horrifying thing is that one day I will start to forget--forget her voice, her looks, her personality. Lucky for me though, I know she is never truly gone. How do I know this? Because sometimes without even thinking about it, I catch myself talking to her. Hopefully by now you have a great mental image of me walking down the street, just chatting to myself like there is someone next to me. But you know what I mean, just in my head.

That's what is great about this marathon. I feel like by doing this, by constantly training and thinking about the cause, I'm in some way holding on to a part of my mom. I'm pretty sure whatever it is I'm holding on to, it's not something I'll ever have to let go of. She is the drive behind me and this cause, the reason why this has become so important. I think she would like that alot--to know that I'm trying to make a difference.

So week 1 is over. No turning back now. Team Nancy has already raised close to 25% of our $2,000 goal (yea Vick!). Talk about AWESOME--thanks to everyone who has contributed so far! You really are making a difference. This week was nothing compared to what's ahead. A few days of easy 3-4 milers and a 6 mile on Saturday--piece of cake. And to think I did the 6 mile completely hungover from the night before. Note to self, I have to lay off the alcohol if I'm going to consider this quest a reality. But in all seriousness, eventhough I'm only a week in, it's already becoming an amazing experience. I'm extremely excited to see where the next 19 weeks will lead me.

As for now, time for me to fall asleep. The forecast for tomorrow--heavy rain. Good thing it's an off day...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

5 Months Till Chicago

Last night I had a dream. It wasn't a bad dream necessarily, but it's a dream that I wish didn't have to occur, a dream that shouldn't have to happen. In this dream I was giving my mom a hug; seems innocent enough, yet technically is now impossible in this world. You see, my mother passed a way a few weeks ago. It's her passing that is driving me to run an insane amount of miles in hopes that I can help researchers and doctors continue to make new discoveries in medicine that will one day help cure cancer.

So how did it start? Well first how about a little background on me? I graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in Atmospheric Science--that's right, I'm a meteorologist (pause for laughter). After graduation last Spring, it was time to find a job. I sent out tape after tape hoping that I would get one phone call from an interested news director wanting to hire me. And it happened in the most random place-Sioux City, Iowa. Let's just say before I saw there was a job opening, I had actually never heard of the 85,000 person market 149 town located where Nebraska, South Dakota, and Iowa intersect. Heck, I didn't know those three states even converged (just kidding, I knew that Nebraska bordered Iowa!) So for the first time ever, I permanently picked up my Missouri roots, and moved 8 hours from St. Louis.

Time went by and everything was going pretty good. I've talked to my mom every day on the phone since the very first day of college and nothing had really changed. Instead of calling her between classes, I was now calling her between work and home. We always talked about the same things, how I was doing, my work, the weather, home life. Then last fall hit. All of a sudden our conversations held a little more clout. I would hear about how she wasn't feeling so great, how she was having some issues with her arm hurting and it was hard to breathe (we never actually used the "C" word into she went under the knife). My family liked to play this little game with me. They would never tell me exactly what was going on. It wasn't a fun game, but nevertheless something I would call a game. Finally I found out she was having surgery. The prognosis: my mother had a tumor on her lung but they had found it very early and everything SHOULD be fine--notice how I wrote "should" in all caps. Should was the keyword that kept normal life spinning. While no one wants to hear that they have to have invasive surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, the idea that everything SHOULD be OK does make the situation a little easier to cope with.

After that surgery, time went on and not much changed. My family kept me in the loop of her health--sorta. Things weren't necessarily getting worse, but they didn't appear to be getting much better. That's about all I knew. Every once in awhile I might receive a text saying "Mom has to have surgery tomorrow--nothing to big". Let's just say that I was getting very angry that I was getting this news via text message. Taking a step back though, I try to see the point of view from the man on the other line. For how difficult it was for us kids, it had to be even more difficult for dad. It can't be fun to see the life slipping away from someone you've love for more than 31 years.

Fast forward: It's 5 days before Christmas and my mom has had a few more surgeries and is residing in the hospital. Because of my amazingly inflexible career path and people's unfathomable interest in news and weather, I was scheduled to work on Christmas. If you know me at all, you know how devastating that is. I'm the Clark Griswold of Garden Valley Drive. I obsess over the holiday and attempt to top myself every year with more Christmas lights and bigger Christmas trees. As I said, a few days before Christmas, I start getting emails and phone calls from relatives (and soon to be :) ) explaining why I should use my mom's circumstances to get home for Christmas. Side note real fast--when I say "use my mom's circumstances", that's based off a little joke we had between each other. In the beginning, I was able to take a few days off from work unexpectedly to visit home and be with my mom. My mom liked the idea of me taking days off just to hang out with her, even if it was because of the circumstances. Ok, back to the story though--so my family started turning the coils in my head that maybe it was a good idea to come from Christmas. My optimistic mind wouldn't allow me to think what they were thinking. This wasn't going to be her last Christmas. No way no how would every Christmas for the rest of my life be without the person who made the holiday feel so special. I decided it wasn't a risk work taking. If there was even the slightest possibility that this could be the case, then I wasn't going to let my work stand in the way of seeing my mom on Christmas morning. Little did I know this would be one of the best and most important decision's I've ever made. After work on Christmas Eve I was on a plane and by 9PM I was in the hospital visiting my mom. It would be the last Christmas Eve I would ever spend with her.

Winter ended and Spring came and things continued to pretty much "stay the same". While she was still on regiments of chemo and radiation, things were still pretty much remaining neutral. She was frail and skinny, but still had most of her hair and with that came most of her personality and sense of humor. She had these great wigs that she bought but never really got to enjoy. I still think she went way to conservative--I pictured long blue locks or a nice 70's era black Afro. She thought a short blond wig would be fine instead. One day I was sitting on my floor after a run and I got a phone call from my dad. It was a Catch 22 of sorts you see-I was now getting phone calls for updates on my mom but it was because the news started getting worse. I was happy to get the phone calls. Chemo and Radiation had stopped working and it was time to hit the arsenals and use last hope medicine. A pill that worked like chemo that was to be taken every morning. To my understanding, the pill was very specific to the type of cancer and the type of people it worked on.

This is when things get a little interesting. I was in town over St. Patrick's Day (I think that was the Holiday) and was on the way to Main Street St. Charles for lunch with my sister to meet a few friends I hadn't seen in a while. My sister started talking about my mom and how if this pill didn't work, then the timeline goes into affect. TIMELINE!! WHAT TIMELINE!?! This was the first of this news I had been told and it was because my sister assumed my dad had told me something that he so kindly emitted from our conversations. Lunch ended up being a little more depressing than I had hoped.

We found out a few weeks later that the pill stopped working and it was just a matter of time before my mom died. Talk about a bomb just being dropped. It was like someone just took a piece of your soul and ripped it from your body. It's something no one should ever have to go through--especially when your mom is barely in her middle 50s. Time passed and family visited my home in St. Louis with hopes of seeing my mom one last time. Finally I knew with the help of my family it was time to get home and spend my mom's final days with her, feeding her ice chips and talking to her, trying to keep things as peaceful and normal as possible. On May 18, 2009, God allowed my mom to stop suffering and took her from this world. This world will never be the same.

A long first entry right? However, I think it sets the stage for how important this race, this mission, this opportunity is for me. I've pledged to run 26.2 miles in dedication of Nancy Roberts. The team name that my friend Lauren and I are running for is literally called "Team Nancy". Not the most creative of sorts but hey, I think it gets the point across. We've pledged to raise at least $2,000 for the American Cancer Society in hopes that even this small amount will somehow aid in research and funding for development of new medicines that will one day stop this terrible disease. Through reading my story, you've seen the impact it's had on my life, my family, my friends. It's time that no one else has to go through such a terrible thing at such a young life. So what am I asking of you. Keep me in your thoughts, keep my in your prayers, and if so be it, keep me in your pocket books. I'll continue to update this blog every week to let you know just how training is going. Who knows, you might even hear some funny and interesting stories along the way. But with the help of a great girl behind me, a supportive team mate, loving family, and incredible friends, we are going to raise this money. Look at me, I continue to ramble. Day 1 of marathon training starts today and as we all know (or at least Ashley and I), "Runners Do It On The Road". Day 1: 3 miles--sounds easy enough to me. Until next time, happy running!

Love You Mom

P.S. Here are the links to our Team Websites where you can read more and donate money to the cause. Thanks in Advance!!