Wimbledon Fanatic

I have been a tennis player most of my life.  Long before running became a passion of mine, tennis was my life.  I first picked up a tennis racquet at about the age of eight.  I lived in a household of tennis players, and quickly became quite a good player over the years.

When I was growing up, I played every chance I got.  I loved it.  I loved learning, and I loved getting better at it.  We played as a family.  We played doubles, we played singles.  I played all the way though Junior and Senior High School on the tennis team.  My Senior year I played #2 singles, and finished my high school tennis career with a record of 16-2 that final season.  I made it to the State Qualifying tournament one year.  I played in several local tennis tournaments, playing men’s doubles and mixed doubles.  Actually winning three tournaments before I hit 21 years old.  I loved it!

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I also watched a lot of tennis on television back then.  I loved watching John McEnroe, and Jimmy Connors.  Andre Agassi, and Pete Sampras.  Loved watching Steffi Graf, and Martina and Chrissy.

Once I got married and started my own family, I had much less time for tennis, or even watching it on TV for that matter.  I never lost my love for the sport, and even joined a USTA men’s tennis team several years ago when I once again dove back into the sport.  With age comes injuries, and I’ve spent the better part of the last few years with some pretty exhausting tendon issues in my elbows due to work, so I haven’t been able to play hardly at all.  This past Spring, I watched several of my sons tennis matches at his High School, and it really made me yearn to get back out on the tennis court again.  Here is a photo of him from the local newspaper.

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Well, in honor of Wimbledon, this morning my son and I got out on the tennis court.  Probably the first time I’ve played in the last year or so.  It felt so good.  We had a blast.  The best news?  My arms feel good still.  The last time I played my elbows instantly hurt after a few rallies, and I could only play for about 15 minutes.  Today though, a full hour and a half, no pain.  Pretty stoked about it.

Because of my long time connection to tennis, and my new found love of running over the past several years, when I decided that I wanted to find a charity team and fundraise for a chance to run the New York City Marathon this year, my choice was clear.  I was a big fan of American tennis professional James Blake years ago.  He’s retired now, but started a foundation to honor his late father who died of gastric cancer.

This is James at Wimbledon….

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He played with a lot of passion, and made it to #4 in the world at one point in his career.  He was always fun to watch.  I decided to join the charity team, and will be representing the James Blake Foundation when I run the New York City Marathon this year.  I pledged to raise at least $3,000 for this cause, which provides vital resources in finding a cure for cancer.  The research that goes into the effort is funded by donations.  It is very important work that they are doing, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a team member for the 2015 race.

I have been reaching out to family and friends, soliciting donations for the past few months and have made some great progress.  Funds have come from all over, from runners, and tennis fans, from strangers, bloggers and even my closest family.  As of today, 6/30/15, I have raised a total of $1,245.  Nearly the half way point in my efforts, I am asking for more help and donations for this fine charity.

Please help me to reach my goal.  It feels so good to give, so won’t you please consider a donation today?  Please share this post on your own blogs, or share in other ways so that I can reach as many potential donors as possible.  I thank you!

The link above takes you directly to my fundraising page where making a donation it so simple and quick.

Thanks again!

In Honor of Dad

My Dad and I live States away, and have for 16 years now.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, and especially on Father’s Day I appreciate all he has given me.

My Dad has always been so supportive, and most of my life it has been from afar.  It’s been almost two years now since my boys and I flew up to NY to visit him.

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I will always cherish that photo!  My Dad is now 80 years old, and still lives by himself in a humble house high on the top of a hill in the town where I was born.  His roots are there, and even though none of his kids live there anymore and haven’t for years and years, he is still content to stay put.  We don’t see each other that much because of distance, but when we talk he always asks about the kids, my work and my running.

Because of his interest in seeing us run, we found a race to run in NY when we visited a few years back. He cheered us all on from the side of the road, and was there at the finish.  He really enjoyed it.

When I told him that my brother and I were going to be running the NYC marathon this year, he was all excited.  I told him I was raising money for charity so that I would have the chance to run it.  He kicked in $100 donation to the cause, which was so appreciated.  For an 80 year old man living on a tight, fixed income, this was a huge gesture!

I made a promise to my Dad, that if I raised my $3,000 minimum goal, and got to run the race, that I would drive up to his house personally, and drive him to NYC for the race.  (He lives about three hours away from the City). That’s a 10 hour drive to pick him up, and another three to my brothers house in Jersey.  My Dad will be there to watch us run!  I couldn’t be happier about that.

I still need plenty of donations if I am going to run NYC though.  I am nearing the halfway mark, and every dollar counts.  Won’t you please consider a donation to the James Blake Foundation which raises money for cancer research?

The following link will take you directly to my fundraising page on Crowdrise.

A thousand thanks!  And Happy Father’s Day to all you Dad’s out there today!

Every $ Counts

For the first time in my running career, I am running a race with a charity team.   I have been fundraising for the James Blake Foundation the past few months, and with a few more donations I will be halfway to my goal.  I pledged to raise a minimum of $3,000 for this charity.  Every donation goes directly to the charity that is doing great work in researching cures for cancer and bringing new discoveries more quickly to cancer patients.  I couldn’t be happier to be doing my part in the fight to end this terrible disease.

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Through the kind donations of so many of my friends, family members, bloggers and other social media contacts in the running community and beyond, I am closing in on my goal.  I really wanted to push the envelope and hopefully reach my goal by the end of Summer.  Well, Summer officially begins very soon.

Won’t you please consider a tax deductible donation to this fine charity today?

This link takes you directly to my fundraising page, where every dollar counts!

As an added bonus for the next several weeks, I am partnering with Angie, who has a small business selling headbands.  She hand sews these, and makes each with runners love!  We came up with a few new styles for the Summer…

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Any donation you make toward my charity $10 and up will score you one of these unique headbands.  And because Angie is super cool, and runs about every race her legs can handle, so has decided to throw in a special offer to help me reach my goal even quicker.  You see, she makes headbands in about a billion styles, as evidenced here….

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And here…..

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And here….

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See? I told you!  Angie’s special offer?  For any donation $20 and up directly to my fundraising page, you will get the stars pattern or chevron pattern (your choice), and then she is going to send you a second headband from her inventory as an added bonus.  It’s like buying mystery pins at Disney.  It’s a great deal, but you don’t know which one you get until you open the package.

You can head over to Angie’s blog here. https://www.marathang.wordpress.com. You’ll see, when you check out her blog that she runs practically every race that exists!  Lol. I think she is maybe more of a running addict than I am.  Angie’s generosity is incredible, and I am so thankful to her for supporting my cause in this unique way.

Fundraising Update

It’s a new week.  Thankfully!

I spent most of last week at work.  About 65 hours on my feet, and I am paying for it dearly.  I haven’t had the energy, time or legs to even think about getting out for a run.  This all changes today, however.  I finally have a day off to think, to relax, and maybe even head out on a short run.

I wanted to share where I am at with my fundraiser for the James Blake Foundation.  Kind of a campaign update, if you will.  After two months now, and through the kind donations received so far, I am at 31% of my goal.  I am trying to raise a minimum of $3,000 for this charitable organization.  So, that being said, I have raised $930 to date.

I have been brainstorming, and trying to come up with more ideas for raising the funds lately, and as this is my first fundraising effort, I could use your ideas, as well.  Please feel free to share!  I can use all the help I can get.

I’m using the fundraising platform Crowdrise online, and making tax-deductible donations is as easy as pie.

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Now, doesn’t that look delicious?

Seriously though, it’s so easy.  Won’t you please consider a donation today?  Share or reblog this post and help me reach as many potential donors as possible.

You can learn about my charity here:  https://www.jamesblaketennis.com.

The following is a link that will take you directly to my fundraising page, and with just a few clicks, you could be a generous donor toward my fundraiser.

I am trying to make this…

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…out if this

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I can only do it with your help!  Please consider a donation today.  Yep, trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill.  Let’s do this!  Donating money to cancer research will make you feel good, and will benefit the countless numbers of people all over the world who have been affected by this disease.

Thanks!

Chicago X 2

It’s all luck of the draw, right?

Here are some important facts…  I’ve entered four race lotteries in the past five years.  I put my name in the hat for the 2012 NYC Marathon, results?  Didn’t get in!  I put my name in the hat for the NYC marathon for 2015.  Results?  Didn’t get picked.  So, from the state in which I was born, my record is 0-2.

I entered the lottery for the 2014 Chicago marathon.  The results?

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I entered again this year, and BOOM!  The email came early yesterday morning, that low and behold, I am IN, again!  So my record for Chicago?  2-0.  Chicago must be my kind of town!

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I can go back!  I had the time of my life in Chicago last year, and I would love to return.  Now, I just have to figure out how I can do it.  I would love to be able to get lined up again with the thousands of runners, and experience the million fans alongside the course.  I just now have to look at my budget, and figure out if I can swing it.  And, I won’t in good conscience, head off to Chicago unless I meet my fundraising goal.

You see, for those of you that missed my posts about NYC.  My utter disappointment in the fact that I didn’t get chosen again for New York, I decided to look into running for charity.  I reached out to a charity foundation that had some meaning to me.  I reached out to the folks at the James Blake Foundation, a charity raising money for cancer research, and they accepted me onto their marathon team.

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I had to pay for my race entry (it wasn’t free), and I accepted the challenge to raise a minimum of $3,000 for this charity.  I kicked off my fundraising with a $100 personal donation to the charity.  To date, through the generous donations of friends, family and fellow runners, I’m nearing $1,000 toward my fundraising goal.

But, I can’t reach my goal without more help.  Help from folks like you!  People reading this blog post, folks I interact with through social media.  Will you please consider a donation in any amount to help this cause?

You can donate by clicking on the following link…  Thank you!

I Did It

After much thought, and a payment of $11, I went ahead and entered the NYCM lottery for 2015.  It feels a bit like I just grabbed a ten spot and a dollar bill out of my wallet, and blew them off into the wind, but maybe.  Just maybe, I will get in.

If the running Gods, and stars align, maybe this November 1st I will be running the 5 Boroughs.

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Running in the snow

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How about that Nor’easter that blew through the NE overnight.  In fact, over 100 million people have been affected by the storm.  States of emergency, roads closed, windy and blustery, bitter cold.  Wind chills below zero, much below zero.  What is a runner to do?

I used to live in NY, so I am well aware of this type of weather.  Luckily, as I sit on my couch down here in the south, the sun is out, and no snow fell overnight.  It is currently 32 degrees, so right at the freezing mark.  I was going to go for a short run this morning, but opted for an extra cup of coffee, and watching coverage of the storm on CNN.  Sitting here with my little one’s, who hate the cold.

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I guess when I think about it, I would rather run in chilly conditions versus hot conditions, but when the temperatures drop to freezing or below, I find it a little difficult to bundle up and head out the door.  What are all of those runners going to do up north today?  I bet many of them can’t get there cars out onto the closed roads, and schools and offices are closed.  Runners will want to run.  So, be careful, bundle up, and run.  I hope at least the sidewalks have been plowed so that you can get out there and get your exercise.

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If you must, run.  Be careful of ice!  Most of all, be careful of frostbite.  Dress in layers, and keep those extremities layered.  Gloves, double up those socks, keep your face covered.  It only takes 10 minutes out there in the negative temps with windchill to get frostbite.

As for me, I just don’t miss the snow.  I grew up with it, and had more than my fair share.  It does get cold here in NC in the winter.  It can be below freezing, and occasionally snows.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that the weather cooperates in two weeks, as I head to the coast of South Carolina for the Charleston Marathon.  I’ve run races in less than ideal conditions.  Last years Asheville Marathon was run on the coldest day of the year in that area.  It was 8 degrees with wind hills at times, and made the running conditions very difficult.  I’m hopeful for a sunny, windless 50 degrees on race day.

As for today, run or no run, if you live in the Northeast, at least take in the beautiful scenery.

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9/11 Hope & Inspiration

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Today we remember, but we never forget.  Where we were, what life was like, the day those moments changed our lives forever.

I believe a day like today we remember our fallen one’s.  We celebrate our heroes.  We look forward with love and hope and healing for a brighter future for this World we live in.

Hope….

It means so much, and carries us forward in life.  Without hope, what is there?

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This quote by Emerson pretty much sums up.  There must always be hope, even in the darkest of dark.  When we feel down or defeated or at our absolute zero, just look up, the stars will surely appear.  I’ve been down, but never out.

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Live life more fearlessly.  With hope, understanding and gratitude, maybe some of the suffering does truly melt away.  I try to be as fearless as possible, but always have to remind myself to reach.  Reach up, forward, beyond…..

Today is about heroism, and finding in ourselves, ways to be more heroic.  To take a stand, to give of ourselves, to make a difference in the lives of others and ourselves.  Let’s always remember our heroes, and aspire to be more like them.

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Memories are a part of who we are.  We make memories, we cherish memories, we reflect on memories.  Memories can hold us back, or propel us forward.  As we strive to better ourselves, our communities, our nations, let’s take those thoughts and build a better human race, a kinder people.  Learning from the past is a crucial part of being better people.  Can we all unite in the betterment of this world we live in?

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Hope and Heroism…..Let’s all try to show a little more.  Each one of us can make a difference.