I am in the middle of a move which is why I have not been posting. Not to worry though I am still working out and trying to improve on running. My new location has some great treadmills so I plan on taking full advantage of those. Post move in I will give a better update.


Stay Strong

It is fitting that this is posted on October 9th.

Today, would have been JJ's 20th birthday. I never met him but ended up donating white blood cells (WBC) to him on five separate occasions. I thought when the email request came through my firm for WBC donations it would only be a onetime event. I thought he would get better, get his transplant and get to go home.

This is a story with a sad ending. It blindsided me but I want you to be warned. Not many people outside of my family and close friends know this story. This story, against a background of a life peppered with family and close friends fighting cancer is why I feel like I should participate in Run for a Reason and raise funds for Young Texans Against Cancer (YTAC).

It is not an easy story for me to share. I don't even feel like it is truly even my story to tell. To be affected this much by someone you have never met and will never meet is.... well I don't even have a word for it. I have sat here almost all night and have had pieces of this story sitting on my laptop, iPad, notepads and random scraps of paper. For the past three months I’ve been debating on how or if I should even share. Ultimately this is what has led me to the decision of raising funds for YTAC and I want to share that with you.

I never met JJ but his struggle was the closest I've come to cancer on my own. As a kid, your parents, or at least mine did, protect you from grandparents, family friends and classmates battle with cancer. Things aren't sugar coated entirely but there is a buffer from the highs and lows of the battles. A kind of reality check to prepare you for the bad news and not allow you to pin all your hope on the good. As an adult actively trying to do something to help someone in their fight, there is no buffer.

From September 2010 to December 2010 I donated white blood cells to a young man I never met. There was no buffer and my primary interaction with JJ and his family was via CaringBridge, a blog, and text message requests for WBC donations. There were no lows on the blog and I pinned my hope to the highs. It probably is a bit messed up that I got so emotionally invested but when donating takes upwards of four hours at a time you kind of have some time to think about the person on the receiving end.

Going into my fifth donation, I had no idea it would be my last. That donation took FOR-EV-ER. After trying to establish the line five times the nurses actually wanted me to quit. My veins from the previous donations were scarred, collapsed and just in general were not behaving. The nurses actually referred to the veins in my right arm as shot. Their words, not mine. The nurses debated calling it off and getting a Dr. to say “Enough. Go home. It is over.” but I already had the medicine and no one else could substitute in so we went through with it. 

Bruised, worn out from the medicine and emotional from the nurses telling me that I could no longer donate and I would have to share that news with JJ and his family at a time when they could not get enough donors; I had no idea I would actually meet JJ’s parents and have to tell them face to face I could no longer help. It was actually a fluke I even met them. The stick for my right arm took so long to get in and set up that when JJ's parents came to get the medicine so JJ's Dad could donate the next day I was still there giving WBC.

I have never met kinder, more salt of the earth people in my life. I probably came off as flippant but it is a testimony to how well his Mom and family kept the blog positive and didn't let on to the lows of the fight and how sick JJ actually was. The blog and interactions were so positive that a near stranger, me, was like "Oh, so do you think JJ will get to see the beach?" and passing along a hairstylist in town for his Mom. The nurses told them I could no longer donate and JJ’s parents were so kind about it - I was a hot mess.

Man, I was a hot mess. I wanted to do more.  If I could no longer donate WBC I wanted to do something. Little did I know three days later, JJ would lose his fight. There would no longer be updates to the blog, text messages from his Mom coordinating donors, or positive little messages and drawings attached to the WBC donations.  I was so shocked when I read the updated blog sharing the news of his passing. I thought the update would be calling for more donors because they were down by at least one. I had pinned all my hope to the positive news on blog I never allowed myself to truly realize how dire the situation was. I had no idea that I would read that JJ lost his fight and the details of the arrangements of the funeral and synopsis of a life that was too short. With that news my drive to do more only intensified.

In June, six months after JJ's death and one week after passing my final CPA exam, I decided to enter the lottery to run the Houston Marathon. I NEVER thought I would be picked but I knew if I did I would want to Run for Reason and make this bigger than just me. Ultimately I believe that if I can no longer donate blood cells to this fight I might as well get some sweat and dollars involved.

So, it has taken me nearly six months to figure out what doing more means to me and another three months to write this post. I don't feel entirely like it is my story to share but it was such a big part of my life and without mentioning WBC and JJ I cannot explain why YTAC and why the marathon. I was an infinitesimal part of JJ’s story but he has been such a monumental part of mine.

I am trying to raise $2,500 for Young Texans Against Cancer by January 15th, 2012. I will do my absolutely best to complete this race and I swear if I do not get it done 2012 I will tackle it again. It is my first marathon and I know I have a long way to go in order to get to that finish line but I would appreciate if you would donate to this cause. Also, from now until the marathon 25% of whatever money I earn from babysitting, dog sitting, house-sitting etc will be donated to YTAC.

You can help me reach my fundraising goal at the link here or there is always a link on the upper right side of my blog. If donating money is not a possibility for you at this time please consider subscribing to the blog, sharing it with a friend or just leaving a comment. All of those things are extremely motivating and will help me cross that finish line.

Stay Strong.


Decisions, decisions.

I just got back from a three mile run/walk with Slade Runner where we were focusing on form and training different muscles. The mileage was not high but my knees and ankles are singing.

There are some big decisions to be made and hopefully by this time next week things will shake out. I am blessed and grateful for good people around me that are willing to lend an ear, give advice and allow me to bounce ideas around. Very fortunate for that in my life.

Just wanted to share.


For those about to study I salute you...

This run is for you!

#twudygroup,  everyone studying for the CPA exam, family, friends and loved ones of those studying, anyone who finds themselves in front of a computer for more hours of a day than you are away from the screen, I run this run for you! Especially those canadiates getting ready to sit their first exam in the October and November testing window.
I know a post-CPA candidate blogging about training for a marathon and raising money for YTAC is a very small niche blog but I hope you all realize there is a life afterwards. Even if you are just starting your journey there is light at the end of the tunnel.

In a strange way preparing for this marathon has been like the marathon of studying. One was just more studious than physical. However, I think the lessons that I have learned from my marathon of studying for the CPA apply to my training and vise versa.

I recently met up with a friend of a friend who is just starting on her CPA journey. My friend JG (not her real name) mentioned Asper (also, not her real name) was struggling with this process and asked if I would just talk with her. I think you will find anyone you meet who has past the CPA exams in the last 12 months will jump at the opportunity to talk about the exams. We have just finished studying and sitting 4 grueling exams (or more if you failed, I sat 5, thanks FAR) what else do we have to share?
Anyways, I met with Asper and the more tips I provided her the more I noticed how preparing for the CPA exam is like preparing for a race, a 10k, a half marathon or even a full marathon.

Here are some of the tips I shared with Asper, if you are a runner or a CPA candidate or a CPA please feel free to add your own!

  • Set and pay for your race date or CPA exam sit date first thing.
I have found this to be the most motivating tool out there. Write your exam or race down on a calendar, I prefer paper but electronic is good too. Write it big, maybe bust out some crayons but get it where you can see it. For the Houston Marathon I have a race count down on this blog and I have a huge calendar with the race date on it. By getting the date down you have a goal and a time frame to accomplish that goal.
  • Count back from your date and set your schedule.
       Admittedly, I was much better at this for my CPA than I have been for the marathon. What I mean with this for the CPA exam is, you know what you need to cover and how long you have to cover it. So break it up and write it down. Check each day and make sure you are on track. You know what you need to do and how long you have to do it in. I can only speak to Becker but I was spoiled on this task with them because everything is already broken down; FAR 9 chapters I took 2 months each time; REG 7 chapters about 7 weeks; BEC 5 chapters 4 weeks (before the writing portion was added); and AUD 5 chapters 4 weeks. For the marathon I am still struggling. I posted a plan a while back but struggled to keep up with it and fit it in to work. Now I am trying to run 4 times a week. I should take my own advice on this step and get a plan and stick to it.
  • Get some accountabilibuddies
        Tell your family, boyfriend, girlfriend,  friends, coworkers, dog, mail carrier, everyone and anyone what you are doing. Don't let telling them hinder studying but telling people your goals enpowers you to achieve them. Don't let your buddies get in the way of studying for the CPA but explain what you are doing and why they shouldn't call with a movie invite (we all have our weaknesses). This letter from another71.com is a great resource: An open letter to all of my friends and family while I take the CPA exam for informing loved ones what you are getting ready to embark on.  For me, this blog and fundraising aspect is really holding me accountable. Do I really want my second mother calling me and asking why I ditched my long run? No!

  • Stock up on frozen meals, toilet paper and toothpaste.
         This is more for the CPA exam than for the racing but it was important enough to post. Don't ask, just do it.
  • Find a mentor and tap the resources around you.
          For the CPA I would not have finished as fast as I did if it was not for AQ/AC and LR. Those girls got me on the right track and paced me as I went. For my running if it wasn't for Slade I'd still be in old shoes and if it wasn't for C-Bear I probably wouldn't have picked the Houston Marathon. People are open to sharing knowledge and experiences and while you should take advice with a grain salt it helps to stay motivated by people who are passionate. Both running and getting through the CPA are things I love talking about and I'm sure I'm not the only one out there.
  • Rely on your training/studying
         Your goal for test day/race day is to walk into Prometeric or toe that line knowing you have done everything possible to get you ready. On my first exam I was actually eager to get to the exam because I had really followed my studying schedule and put the leg work into the lectures, homework and simulations and I wanted to take the test and prove I worked my butt off and wanted to see the result. Same goes for race day the miles you put in now are what will get you through.
If you have more tips or any questions please don't hesitate to comment below. I'll talk anyone's ear off about studying for the CPA exam.