* Training updates will be posted at the very bottom...
This past fall I attended my first Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation conference (thanks to a connection from a former schoolmate!), and was amazed to learn that 3.9 million Americans are Sjogren's patients. That's over a million more patients than the approximately 2.6 million American women who have had a history of breast cancer (source: The American Cancer Institute). Our awareness of breast cancer far exceeds that of autoimmune diseases, let alone Sjogren's Syndrome. Put another way, statistically you are more likely to know someone with Sjogren's Syndrome than someone who has a history of breast cancer. The more amazing fact was that for every diagnosed Sjogren's patient, there are probably 3 to 4 times that many individuals currently undiagnosed. I could have been one of those individuals if it wasn't for routine bloodwork taken at an annual physical back in 2007.
A high protein count in my bloodwork led to additional tests, a visit to a rheumatologist, and ultimately a diagnosis of Sjogren's Syndrome. Sjogren's Syndrome is an autoimmune disease where the body's white blood cells attack its moisture producing glands. It is one of 56 autoimmune diseases, and one where 9 in 10 patients are female. Diagnosis usually takes years (if not decades) as the symptoms mimic many other diseases and conditions, and thus, by the time patients are diagnosed they are typically in their 50s and 60s...not young Mothers like myself. I am lucky to have been diagnosed early on before my symptoms were severe enough to prompt me to seek medical attention.
Symptoms of Sjögren's Syndrome (pronounces SHOW-grins) include dry eyes and dry mouth, but the disease can also cause dysfunction of other organs such as the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and the central nervous system. Patients may also experience extreme fatigue, joint pain, and have a higher risk of developing lymphoma.
Beside the individuals I've met through the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation, I've only known one other person who was also a Sjogren's patient - Brenda Huey. Although she embraced the disease with a fair amount of wit and humor, I can truly appreciate her frustrations, anxiety, and fears. On the surface, Sjogren's hallmark symptoms of dry eye, dry mouth, and fatigue seem relatively benign. However, thinking about how these symptoms can become severe, and how other symptoms and conditions can develop due to the disease is a very frightening thought.
Brenda Huey braved her battle with Sjogren's with a smile and her famous giggle and laugh, and left a huge hole in my heart when she departed this earth in 2010. The last few years of her life were spent back and forth to physicians and hospitals combatting non-small cell lung carcinoma - a cancer common in Sjogren's patients. I'm running this race not only to raise money to fund research concerning Sjogren's and its associated symptoms, but in Brenda Huey's memory. The race is coincidentally being run on her birthday - April 30th, and I know she'll be there with me in spirit.
I've already begun preparing for this amazing adventure, and I'm not in the least bit concerned about being able to complete these 13.1 miles. Afterall, this is my third time training for a half marathon...and my second time running it! As some of you may recall, 2 weeks before my first half marathon I took a nasty digger on my 12 mile run and wound up in the ER getting my knee stitched back together.
As part of agreeing to race with Team Sjogren's, I made a commitment to raise a minimum of $2600. While this is seemingly ambitious, I am very hopeful that I will meet, if not exceed, this goal by the end of March when my tickets for the race must be confirmed. Having donated to many wonderful charities in the past, and sponsored family members, friends, and former schoolmates on their walks and runs, I realize that this amount is a reach, but attainable. Please know that each and every donation I receive is important both in terms of memorializing my fabulously wonderful family friend, as well as in raising money for an organization that has nothing by my best interests as a Sjogren's patient in mind.
Donating through this website is simple, fast and totally secure. It is also the most efficient way to support my fundraising efforts. Please don't forget that your donation is tax deductible, and you will receive a confirmation of your donation from the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation.
Additionally, I'll be donating 10% of all of my jewelry sales from my two Etsy shops (SweetBriarBridal.Etsy.com and SweetBriarFamily.Etsy.com) between January 1st and April 30th, 2011.
Many thanks for your financial, emotional, and physical support in this amazing endeavor! My final request - please forward this to anyone who you think might be interested in supporting Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation's research!
Training Updates (follow me on www.dailymile.com)
1/10 : Official 16 week training starts tomorrow! Been running 3-4x a week already with longest mileage around 6 miles. Ready to start the increase.
w/o 1/11: First 4 miles logged...first strength/core session (I'm going to be SORE!)...I'm sore, but cranked out my 5 miler (Thurs)...2nd strength/core session was a bit painful...great 3 miler w/abs...completed 6 miles on Sunday - first week done!
w/o 1/17: Monday was an off day...shaved 20 seconds off my 4 mile time!...much better 5mile run, esp. considering I've got a cold...gradually increasing the number of push-ups I can do...great 3miler...shaved 3:26 off my 6 mile time!
w/o 1/24: shaved a bit more off my 4 mile...two strength workouts...5 miler nearly did me in (VERY tired before running)...kicked the 7 miler to the end
w/o 1/31: Birthday week!! Ran a strong 4 miles (sub-9) with new wireless headset! Strength/core workout...ran 5 miles @ incline 1 (yikers, that was tough!)...so was a 7 mile run @ incline 1, but it's done and the time wasn't too bad.
w/o 2/7: Very, very tough 3miler (I'm exhausted). Broke in the new sneaks...need to get the orthodics.Strength/core is done. Tough 5 miler on Thurs...3miler on Sat was better, 5miler on Sunday was okay. TOUGH workout week. Hope next week's runs are more comfortable.
w/o 2/14: Happy Valentine's Day! 5m run was better (down at 0 incline)...strength/core showing increases in my push up count...6m run in, skipped strength/core for shower preparations...Got my 4 mile in (random hills), but skipped the 8m on Sunday to throw my sister's baby shower.
w/o 2/21: Off to a bad start. I'm sick. No shock given the past week's worth of preparations and a baby shower and birthday party on Sunday. Glad Monday is an off day...we'll have to see about Tuesday's run. Was only able to run Thursday's 6m, no other runs and no strength/core. Just completely wiped.
w/o 2/28: Off to a better start. Was able to run my 4m on Tuesday with plenty 'o hills. Good strength/core (although feeling it after missing a week). SORE from the lunges, but ran a kicking 6 miler w/hills!
w/o 3/7: Good 5 miler; tried the Cytomax and new hat. Did the strength/core. Skipped Thursday's run - basement ceiling was just painted and it's prime for a migraine. Got in a 4miles outside at the local track, and my 10 miler outside on the road. Two great outdoor runs, felt better than expected!
w/o 3/14: I'm sick. Could barely breathe without coughing this week, not to mention the 3 days I was in bed with a 100+ fever. Looking forward to next week.
w/o 3/21: Feeling better, still tough to breathe. Skipped the Tue/Thurs run as I'm still coughing. Got in the Sat/Sun runs, although a bit slower than I'd like and I had to cut back on Sunday's long run.
w/o 3/28: Nearing 90% better, still slight cough, but I got a run on the treadmill Tuesday, Thursday, and two runs outside this weekend, including a 10miler!
w/o 4/3: Slight cough still persists, but was able to get in all of my runs during the week. Ran Thursday outside with W in the jogger, and did a 6 miler on Sat only to discover the sneakers I've been wearing all along gave me a blister :-(
w/o 4/11: G turns 5! The countdown is on, and the training has begun it's taper.
w/o 4/18: Runs are shorter, but the time per mile is getting better. Looking like a race temp at the start of around 50 and overcast...here's hoping!!
w/o 4/25: Race Week! Making final preparations and hoping that the two blisters on my pinky toes heal up in time for Saturday!!