Tuesday, December 14, 2010


This blog is dedicated to my (adopted) grandmother. She is the first person close to me to have died of cancer. I knew her for a short time, so I asked my dad and his brothers to send me their memories of her.

I first met Jane in my teens. My mother remarried in February of 2007 and I suddenly had a new family. I didn't know my biological father that well and had never really been apart of his family, so this was something new. Everyone was so nice and welcoming, especially my new stepgrandparents, Bill and Jane Walker. They did everything they could to make me feel apart of the family. My memories of Jane include her loving personality, her intelligence, and the level of respect she had from her husband and children. Her death was sudden and had a huge impact on everyone that knew her. There is a picture in my parent's house of Jane in her wedding dress. She was very beautiful when she was young and she carried that beauty with her until her death. My dad used to always make a joke about how there were 4 boys, so Jane would make dinner, put it on the table, and everyone had to fend for themselves. If you missed out on the food, too bad. I love that story, although, I kind of think it's not true :)

I struggle with what to call Jane because she was my stepgrandmother, then my stepfather adopted me so she became my grandmother but out of respect for the rest of the family who spent their entire lives with her, I wanted to clarify. I only knew her for a handful of years, so I don't have the ability to relay everything that needs to be said about her. I do know that she made me feel as though I had been her granddaughter my entire life.

Below is my father's account of Jane's life. I made some grammatical changes to make it flow easier but this is pretty much all my dad's writing. He called his parents Jane and Bill.

"Jane was born in China Grove, NC. She moved to Spartanburg and then Greenville, SC as a child. She attended Greenville High School where she met my father, Bill Senior. Jane was the love of Bill's life and they moved to Biloxi, MS while Bill was enlisted with the Air Force. Their life in Biloxi was happy and they shared many eventful, happy times on a low Air Force salary. Jane was a hostess at an Italian restaurant while also caring for 2 sons. After Bill's service ended, they relocated back to Greenville where Jane had 2 more boys. Bill traveled extensively so Jane had to make many decisions by herself. She tried to instill a strong sense of self esteem in all of us as well as a knowledge of the difference between right and wrong. My parents lead by example, and the whippings were influential as well. They gave us confidence and a solid base of values. They allowed us to make our own decisions, let us succeed on our own and learn from our failures. I am most grateful for this.

As a mother, Jane always listened to our hopes and dreams and showed us love through positive praise. She was an excellent cook and we always ate together as a family. The only time we got to choose what was for dinner was on our birthdays and we were always expected to clean our plate. Every Christmas, Jane and Bill would buy all 4 sons a Christmas ornament with I, II, III, IV, indicating which number son we were. These ornaments were brought back from different countries that Bill visited for business. Jane would sometimes accompany him on these travels and their visits included Venezuela, England, Spain, Canada, China, and Mexico. When they couldn't afford to buy an ornament, Jane would make them herself using scraps of cloth, glitter and paint. As each son left to become an adult, she would give them their ornaments to decorate his own family tree.

In addition to collecting Christmas ornaments, she also collected ceramic tile from her travels. She loved to cook and she had a green thumb. Our house had many plants, a lawn full of special flowering shrubs, and a vegetable garden. She loved the beach and cherished family and friends. She would ride the waves with all of us and prepare fresh seafood at night. She would have her sister come visit from California and they would reminisce about their childhood. She was active in her church, Episcopal Church of the Redeemer and helped with crafts for Church fundraisers. She encouraged our love of the arts and would buy painting supplies so that we could create our own paintings."

I had Bill ask my uncles for their memories as well. I have included those below:

Uncle Phillip: "Jane lived a life with an air of serenity and was genuine to the core. She influenced me to value the beauty of simplicity and look at life with a laugh."

I know that the others are going to be sending their comments so I will update the post when I receive them.

Jane was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died 7 weeks later. She thought she had bronchitus but her symptoms were a result of the cancer spreading throughout her body. Ovarian cancer is a difficult cancer because it is difficult to detect and once one begins to experience symptoms, it is typically too late.

Jane was a special lady and she is the main reason that I decided to raise money for this run. I hope that her story can help others in some way. I also hope that the reader can feel the impact she had on many people's lives.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Ok, so I know that I havent' posted in a while and I'm just adding this message to say... it's coming... I've got lots of things to talk about so...

the next one is going to be about my stepgrandmother, Jane.. it's really involved so that's why it's taking so long... sorry

in the meantime, if you're like to help support my quest to cure cancer, please visit my yard sale this saturday at 16 Sagamore Lane, Greenville 29607. We'll have lots of cool stuff. Also, please please please help me get the word out. Post it on your facebook, tweet it, whatever

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I went on a trip to Tallahassee this weekend to see the Clemson vs Florida State game. As I was sitting in the stands, I thought, I love college sports so much, wouldn't it be cool to have a show that highlighted universities during a game week (football, basketball or baseball). How do I get that job? Someone could pay me to go to a college town for a long weekend. I could eat at the local restaurants, learn about their traditions, highlight their gameday atmosphere, etc. I know they do that sometimes for gameday, but I'm talking about a full on, documentary type show. I'm going to work on this. In the meantime, I can use my blog!

I've been to Tallahassee several times before but this time, I had a FSU grad who could show me the campus. In past trips, I remember Tallahassee being an ugly, barren town with no trees and all cement. This time, it was much different. We got to campus later than I typically would, but early for people who aren't crazy like me, and went shopping! Every time I visit a school, I get a souvenir t shirt - this time was no different. We parked in the parking garage which had a bookstore attached to it. Of course, there were the typical comments, but for the most part, it was nice. The t shirts were expensive so we decided to go to another store.

 As we were walking through campus, I noticed lots of oak trees with spanish moss. So pretty, and it reminds me of the low country. I didn't remember that from last time, how weird.

They also had some really cool statues

The campus had that Panhandle feel, sprinklings of old south mixed into a warm climate (although... it was 50 degrees, so not so warm). I got a t shirt, took a pic of me kicking the FSU blow up doll in the nuts, and moved on to the stadium.

Now for my favorite part, opening ceremonies. I make it sound like it's some major event, but the beginning of a college football game sets the atmosphere for the game. There is a big difference between watching FSU vs Clemson and watching Duke vs UNC. Both FSU and Clemson have a strong football tradition and they have some pretty cool things that make each game an experience.

FSU's band marches onto the field and you are impressed by the sheer size of it. Chief Osceola enters at the opposing end, spear lit on fire and riding a white horse. The band plays their typical introductory songs, the Star Spangled Banner, blah blah and the crowd sings the fight song. After the two teams enter onto the field, the Chief rides his horse over the field, circles back to the center and stabs his spear into the ground. It's exciting and unique. The more interesting piece of the story is that FSU works very closely with the Seminole tribe on the mascot's garb and presentation. They also offer scholarships to members of the Seminole nation. This is more than just an Atlanta Brave or Washington Redskin "let's make our mascot an indian" kind of thing, they are truly honoring a tribe that is present in this area of Florida. The last thing that I think is so cool is the war chant. The braves do something similar but it's no where near as interesting because what makes this so cool is the way the band plays, specifically, with the drumline. Live and in person, it's intimidating. They play a few verses of the war chant and then the crowd ends it by continuing the chant a capella. FSU has one of the most unique and interesting football tradition out of any other team in the nation. ( I am not saying the most - one of the most - Brian)

I would love to have been part of the crowd back in the 90's, each game means something, each game is one step closer to the national title, I bet the atmosphere was electric. Maybe that opportunity will happen once again, who knows. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Want to learn how to run??

Obviously, if you have read any of my previous posts, you know I like to run. I hesitate in calling myself a runner since I am slow, but I will go ahead and say... I am a runner. I haven't always enjoyed running and I think I've even said, I am never going to run farther than 3 miles, but as I began running 5k races, I started to enjoy it's rewards and wanted to challenge myself.  I felt proud of my accomplishment, especially as I started running longer distances. I started "training" in November of 2009 (by training, I mean, I didn't just casually go out and run for 30 minutes once a week, I actually had a plan of action) and did my first 10 mile race in February. After that race, I did a half marathon trail run, a 10k and a half marathon road race within 2 months. I accomplished some major goals of mine in less than 6 months and I was really proud of myself.

During that time, I went through a lot of emotions about running. I wanted to be further along than I was. I was upset with myself for not running a 9 minute mile, or a 28 minute 5k, etc. Sometimes, I would run at night and I would hate every minute of it. I started to get shin splints and my right hip flexor would ache. My foot would go numb and I couldn't finish 3 miles. It was a tumultuous relationship I had with running, I wasn't sure I wanted to continue. After I finished the half in April, I took a break. The break made me realize what I had accomplished. I ran 2 half marathons, a 10 mile, and a 10k race all within 3 months. I had never run longer than a 5k. To have completed 3 major running milestones in such a short time was a big deal. My finishing time didn't matter, or shouldn't matter, because I was a newby. How can I expect to run as fast as my friends when they had all been running for years, many of them being marathon runners? I always do that. I always expect to be the best immediately and if I'm not, it's somehow a reflection of my value as a person. Oh, I suck at running because I'm not naturally fast. I am not good at endurance sports because I can't even win a 5k. All of those thoughts run through my head and I beat myself up for not being Kara Goucher day 1.

When I began running again in August, I was going to do it right. I started doing the 5k program with iRun on saturday mornings. I recruited a couple of people, mainly my mom, and got involved. Holly Di Giovine
 and Melissa Adrian  are two trainers that helped put this program together and make it was it is today. I think it is based on the couch to 5k program, but it consists of running 3 days a week and then mixing in cross training. It was nice because it helped me get back into running mode which in turn inspired me to run another half. My only goal in doing that is to finish the race in at least 2 1/2 hours and not hurt. Last time, I couldn't walk, this time, my goal is to be able to walk :)

My inspiration for this entry is to promote iRun and get people to come out and join our group (it's free). This program is a really a great way to ease into running, it's simple and fairly painless. You only have to run 3 days a week and that's all I would do initially. After you feel comfortable and want more of a challenge, add in some cross training, biking, swimming, spin class, the elliptical, anything. iRun is fun because you're working out, yes, but you're also hanging out with fellow athletes (of all levels) and you can find some running buddies.


We are going to be continuing the 5k program, offering a marathon training group, a trail running group, etc. I just registered for the lottery for the NYC Marathon at the end of 2011. I may not get in, but if I do... I'll be marathon training!! So please, come and join us, even if you've never worked out before. It's a great way to get into working out, running, and it's a very supportive environment!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Karen G.

So, as I have stated before, the reason I started this blog was because I am raising money for Cancer Research. Our family doesn't have much of a history of cancer (well, I say that but my granddaddy told me he had 3 uncles that died from it and my real dad's mother died of lung cancer - so actually we do), but over the past couple of years, I have really noticed cancer's affects people's lives. Everyone seems to have had it, had a family member that had it, had a friend that had it, something. For some of my blogs, I'd like to dedicate an entry to a person that I know that has been affected by it.

Karen G. is a person that I know and have known over the last 2-3 years. She is a lady that has been through a tremendous amount and she always has a positive attitude. I would consider her a role model.

Some general information about Karen: She has two siblings, a brother and sister, she does not have any children but she has a husband of 20 years (I think), Mike. Both of them are wonderful people who do a lot in their community.

Last year, in April, Karen had a brain aneurism. Karen is young, I think she's in her late 40's, early 50's, she is in shape, she's always taken care of herself... she just had an aneurism and it was scary. She had a hard time remembering things, she was in ICU for a long time, but throughout it all, she always maintained a strong faith and a positive attitude. Her husband, Mike, said that he gained so much hope from her and it helped bring them closer together. The thing that I took from it was that things happen, but it doesn't mean that I can't get through it. God has a plan for me and sometimes, it's different than what I think, sometimes, it's not perfect. (in my eyes). It was horrible thinking that Karen might not make it, but I think that she showed people that we can get through anything in our lives, and that even in bad times we are blessed.

Karen recovered, she was walking and talking and her memory got better, it was like nothing had ever happened. Fast forward to earlier this year, Karen went to the doctor because she had a lump in her throat. She was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. It was aggressive, but the doctors went forward with treatment. She went through several rounds of Chemo and most recently, had some type of stem cell treatment. She is in remission now, but it has been a tough road. I've gotten updates through friends of mine, and through Mike.

My first thought was, how much is God going to put Karen through? I still dont know the answer. I don't understand why people get cancer, because although I can say, Karen is such a wonderful person, she's so happy and positive, she is strong and has such good advice, she is a good role model and she's someone that I aspire to be one day, I cannot say that she does not deserve cancer, because no one does. But it's here... and of people who get it, they always have a loved one who can't understand why.

What I can say is that, in spite of all that has happened to her, she still remains positive, still is strong, and still has faith in God and what His plan is. I'm grateful to know her and I can't wait until she gets better so I can see her again.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spinx Runfest October 30th, 2010

Yesterday, my mom and I participated in the Spinx Runfest, a run that includes a marathon, a half marathon and a 5k. This is what we have been training for with iRungreenville for the past 10 weeks and my mom's first 5k. I was excited because this was my first time doing a 5k with a program such as iRungreenville, so I was proud of my mom, my team members, my co-caption (Jeanne who was running the marathon) and myself for doing something that was much bigger than me.

The day started early as I ran with my friend, Cassie, at 7:00 am. This was my long run, all in preparation for the half in february. Mom picked me and dropped me off to meet Cassie so she could get downtown early. All of my other runs have included a run/walk combination, but today, we just decided to run for 50 minutes. It felt good and time went by quickly as Cassie is good company! I think I usually talk her ear off, but she keeps coming back, so I think she likes it. When mom met me to pick me up, I felt good and was ready for this 5k.

We met the iRungreenville group at Rainer's on main street and prepared for the race to start. It was cool having everyone meet in one spot and we all talked about our nerves, much of the group participating in their first 5k. Some members of the group read motivational quotes, reminding us that all of us are strong and ready for this race. Each quote highlighted the fact that we are facing our fears, doing something that most people think they can't do, congratulating us for our efforts and telling us to reap the rewards. I felt really connected to the group and felt a different feeling than I ever felt at a 5k. We walked to the starting line and got ready to run.

Mom and I had a plan, we were going to tackle the first part of the race running 3 minutes, walking 1 minute. It was mainly downhill and I knew that we could tackle 3 minutes running easily. The second half of the race was a lot of uphill, so we decided to run that part 1 minute, walk 1 minute to the finish line. Mom looked good running and I instantly knew she was going to beat her time. As we ran down McBee, some people had signs on their shirts that said, cheer for me, Dan so as I ran by, I yelled "yay, dan" (I don't remember the exact names, so that's as creative as I can get).

As we ran up Main St, we came close to the stadium and I realized we were ahead of our time. I knew mom was going to beat her 5k time and I was so excited. The cool thing about this race is that it ends in the Greenville Drive stadium, so the last tenth of a mile, you run the outside of the stadium.  People are cheering you on and as you run towards the finish line, people are yelling, almost like you're going to score a run. Mom, a 53 year old woman who smokes, finished her first 5k in 36:14 with only 10 weeks of training. (it was a gun start so the time in the paper was different, but I brought my watch for that reason). I was so proud of her and I know that she was proud of herself too. We decided to get some food and sit in the stands to cheer on the rest of the runners. The coolest moment was when an older man (he was part of the iRun group) ran across the finish line and the whole stadium got up and cheered. there was also another man, Grady, who was a heavier set guy when he started, he had a bad knee, but he continued with the training group and ran the race. He crosssed the finish line and again, we all stood up and cheered him on. That moment was so rewarding because I witnessed two people do something that was not easy for them to do, but they did it. I also saw a group of people forget about themselves, forget about their times, forget about competition and band together to build others up. Our world seems to be so obsessed with tearing people down, you sometimes need to be reminded that all of us are good, all of us have goodness in us, and I felt very overwhelmed. I almost teared up because it felt so good to be a part of something so positive. That is why I like running, because anyone can do it, and it feels so good when you do.

Greenville is very lucky to have a group like iRungreenville because it's a place where beginners can go, get direction on how to start running and do it with people that care about others. I am so grateful to be a part of this group and I thank Holly Di Giovine and Melissa Adrian for all they have done to build the program. Of all of the races I have participated in, this has been the best one by far. 1) because I ran it with my mom who i am so proud of and 2) because of the atmosphere I experienced

Friday, October 29, 2010

Rock n Roll Half Marathon - New Orleans

I am running the RocknRoll Half Marathon in New Orleans in february. This will be my 3rd half marathon and I can't believe that I'm focusing on my third. My whole life, I can remember always being concerned with my weight. In high school, I always felt like the ugly duckling, a boy even told me I was ugly in 8th grade!! I don't know if I felt like being skinny would make that feeling go away, but it seemed to be a major area of focus for me, as it can be even still. When I started my current job, I gained weight from sitting on my behind all day long, and the need to do something finally was greater than my fear of working out. I had been to the gym before, but never really knew how to "work out". In 2007, I met a girl who had a personal trainer for a husband, and I was introduced to Crossfit.

Crossfit is a movement, I guess that's what you can call it, a type of workout that can be done in a garage. All you need are pull up bars, bumper plates, a rowing machine, a back extenstion machines, medicine balls and kettle bells and you've got everything you need. You follow a daily "Workout of the Day" and it can take anywhere from 3 minutes to 30 minutes.

The first 6 months of working out, I typically would end my workout feeling sick and having to lie down or go to bed. But within a year, I was in better shape than I ever had been and I was proud of myself. I made good friends and finally started to gain some confidence in my outer appearance.

I did that for 2 years and because people changed, situations changed, gyms changed, I changed... I decided to move away from that environment. I met a couple that were into endurance sports and they introduced me to a whole new idea... running. I have had a love/hate relationship with running over the past year. There are times when i've ran 6 miles and felt so good, I never wanted to stop. There have also been times when i've 1 mile and thought it was the hardest mile I'd ever run. It's so weird how the time of day, the weather, what you ate, your shoes, how anything can affect the type of run you're going to have. In december of 20089, I decided that I wanted to run a half marathon. I had run 5 or 6 miles a couple of times, but 13.1 miles seemed like such a distance. I didn't know if I could do it, but my friends encouraged me and so, I commited to run the Country Music Half Marathon in April 2010. I started training and committed to a couple of races between that November and April. Somehow, in that 6 month span, I ended up running a 10 mile race at Furman University, a 10k in downtown Greenville, a half marathon trail run in GA and a couple of 5k's. I went from crossfitter to runner instantly!!

The one thing that I gained during that time, well I gained a lot of things but the most important, is a friend who I cherish!! Jeanne has taught me a lot of things about running, but she's also been a great friend and I'm grateful for her being in my life. She has a little girl, Selah, who I also love and a husband that can be ornery, but deep down, is very nice. I've learned a lot from them and they've shown me that I can do anything, even run a half marathon in the mountains after only running for 3 months!

Now to my current mission, the half in New Orleans. One thing I've learned about my working out, in order for me to be consistent, I have to have an event to train for because the fear of the pain of not being prepared is greater than my desire to skip running during the week. I picked this course because 1) it's flat, 2) it's in New Orleans and 3) it's during a time of year that I like to run. My co-worker is going, her friend and my mom. I'm super excited about accomplishing another difficult task and I know I can do it, something I didn't know last year. I have a plan for how I'm going to attack the race and I'm sure I will finish in record time. I am also excited about doing this with my mom because she is a lot of fun. Mom has recently started running and is running in her first 5k this weekend. We did our first run of the course last week and she did great, 36:37!! How wonderful for a 53 year old woman!

My mom and I have always been very close and this is just one other thing that we can do together. Running has brought so much joy to my life, I hope it will do the same for her. When you conquer something like running 13.1 miles, you really feel like there's nothing else you can't conquer...unless it's running 26.2 miles... we'll see.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My first blog

This is my first blog and it's going to be short and sweet. I have been thinking about blogging ever since I read an article about two bloggers who have gained a lot of attention for their experiences in running and their nutrition. Problem is, it seems as though they are talking about caloric restriction and overexercising. I was appalled that so many people were following them. I understand what it is to struggle with my body image and how that obsession can take over one's life, so my goal is to offer my experience with it.

Over the past several years, I have gone through major changes in my life, I stopped drinking, I went to college, got a job, and went through a wide range of emotions about myself and who I am. Through that journey, I have started to realize this sense of wanting to help others, and through that, I am now trying to raise money for the American Cancer Society. My stepgrandmother was the first person I knew to die of cancer. She got ovarian cancer and died within 7 weeks of diagnosis. My stepgrandfather also got the disease and died from complications. One of my friends found out a year after having a major stroke that she has non hodgkins lymphoma and is going through treatment. I have so many other examples and I feel compelled to do something, however small it may be.

More on all of this, but starting now until february, I am going to be using this blog to document my half marathon training, my attempts to raise $1300 for cancer, and all of the obstacles that come with both. Thanks for reading my blog, I hope it'll be interesting!!!