Small Steps and Giant Leaps

For the first time ever, I am posting on the fly.  So, pardon the typos and I’ll keep it brief.

Today was a tremendous day for the cystic fibrosis (CF) community.  Today, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced the FDA’s approval of KALYDECO, the first drug to treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis.  This is groundbreaking – not just for those affected by CF, but for the world of medicine!  The benefits of this collaboration between Vertex and the CF Foundation will have a tremendous ripple effect.

We in the CF community have watched Kalydeco, formally known as VX-770, progress through the CFF’s research pipeline for many years now.  This progress, each small step, was made possible by the dedication and financial backing of patients, families, friends, clinicians, researchers, volunteers, individual donors, corporations and CFF staff.  The CFF receives no federal funding, and the major drug companies are not interested in funding CF research because, for them, not enough people have the disease to make it a profitable endeavor. The CFF must fund its own research—and they are a national model in doing so!

Limitless thanks to Vertex Pharmaceuticals for making an investment in this orphan disease, and to every single person who has given time, talent and/or treasure to this cause.

To those have wondered why I’ve continued my brother’s fight against CF when I “could’ve put CF behind me”, let today’s news serve as your answer.  NEVER give up the good fight!  NEVER give up hope!  Today, a giant leap was made towards the cure for cystic fibrosis!  Today, a big piece of Andy’s dream – our dream, was realized!


The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

“Chocolate chip cookies, I gotta have more,
You can bake ’em in the oven, or buy ’em at the store
But whatever you do have ’em ready at the door
And I’ll love you till I die!”

– Chorus of Chocolate Chip Cookies by Bill Steele

My husband loves chocolate chip cookies – – almost as much as I love coffee and chocolate. He claims that if he were given the choice of any dessert, a chocolate chip cookie would be his pick . . . along with an ice cold glass of milk. Cookie Monster apparently made quite an impression on him in his early childhood.

We don’t celebrate Hubby’s birthday with cake. And I’ve never fretted over what to give him for Valentine’s Day. From made-from-scratch, to store bought, to gourmet, he’s tried the gamut. If chocolate chip cookies are what Hubby loves, chocolate chip cookies are what Hubby gets! We even bucked tradition and served a giant groom’s cookie at our wedding reception. Not a radical move these days, but it was an uncommon occurrence 16 (almost 17) years ago.

In early December, I enjoyed a girls’ getaway weekend trip to Chicago. Christmastime in Chicago, oh what shopping fun! I was like a kid in a candy store. When one of my girlfriends pointed out a Vosges Chocolate shop, I ran in to load up on casually strolled in to select a few goodies to take back to my family. At the end of the counter, by the cash register, was a tasty looking display of chocolate chip cookies as big as my face! When I asked for their price, the cashier informed me that they were not for sale but were an example of the finished product of The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix. BINGO! I’d just found a perfect Christmas gift for Hubby.

Though Hubby is the big chocolate chip cookie fan, it seemed that I was the one that couldn’t wait to make those cookies. Every time I opened the pantry, that white and purple box cried out to me. But, being that it was his gift, I refrained from suggesting we make them. Then, finally, a couple of weeks ago he got his Betty Crocker on.

While Hubby was in the kitchen, I was in our home office channeling my inner Mark Brunetz, so only got the following pictures:


Do these look gorgeous or what?

Now this isn’t a mix you just whomp up, mind you. In order to get the perfect cookie, one must read the instructions carefully. Really! It even says so on the box:

My dear Hubby did just that and the end result was pure chocolate chip cookie nirvana! Never was there a more fitting name for a recipe. Vosges’ mix truly does yield the ultimate chocolate chip cookie! They were the most divine, most decadent cookies we have ever eaten — which is why there are no more pictures to share! Who has time for pictures when there’s some good eating to be done? 😉

I could try to describe a Vosges Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie to you, but I see no need to when Katrina Markoff, founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, as already done so in a most poetic way:

“While some like their chocolate chip cookies crunchy and others like them chewy, I lie somewhere in between. My ideal cookie is large enough to share with a mounded top and thin, crisp edges. I like to hear the crunch of the cookie exterior against my teeth juxtaposed to the gooey chocolate and the moist interior. Achieving this perfect balance is a labor of love, science and art!”

My friends, Vosges has ruined us for any other chocolate chip cookie. And for that, we are thankful!

Training Accountability and Mental Gymnastics

There are a variety of ways in which I keep myself accountable as I train for my first half marathon.  One way is to note my completed daily training task in the status line on my Facebook page.  So far, I have been diligent in posting every day.  My hope is that if I slack off, a friend will call me out on it.  Therein lies the accountability!

It is nearly the end of the third week of the 17 week training schedule.  Only . . . week . . . three . . . .  Currently, I am doing my weekday mileage on a treadmill.  This week I have concentrated on building up my endurance by moving at a slower pace on an incline.  Everything has gone so far so good, until today.

Today, it seemed as if I spent an eternity trudging through the requisite three miles.  Why?  The only thing I did differently was focus on shortening my stride and keeping my abdominal muscles pulled in.  Ah . . . but doing so required quite a bit of concentration; like trying to rub my stomach with one hand, and pat my head with the other while hopping on one foot!

I guess my physical fatigue can be attributed to my mental fatigue, as much as anything else.  For the love of Hermes, I can’t tell you how happy I am that REST is on the slate for tomorrow!  Just what I’ll need to conquer the four mile, hilly, outdoor run on Saturday.

Three Revelations (and Hell Didn’t Freeze Over)

Three revelations from Training Week Two:

1)  I need to do a better job of stretching.

It’s the end of week two and I’m feeling a bit sore.  The muscle tightness (no cramping, though) tells me I need to do a better job of stretching.  I should also lower my expectations.  My brain tells me I should be able to achieve the mileage in a certain amount of time; my body tells me otherwise.   I need to take a lesson from Aesop’s The Tortoise and The Hare – – “slow and steady wins the race”.

2) ‘Tis better not to run after dinner.

Thursday was a busy day.  I didn’t have the opportunity to run in the morning, like I have been.  So in the interest of not missing a workout, I opted to forego dessert and run after dinner.  No, I didn’t end up tossing my proverbial cookies, but I felt mighty sluggish.  To this end, I will now plan to get up a bit earlier and knock out my running obligations first thing.  *sigh of resignation*

3) Running in below freezing temperatures isn’t so bad after all.

The weather forecast for Saturday’s group training run was clear and COLD – as in below freezing.  Although it seems a minor miracle that I am even running at all, I figured hell would surely freeze over before a) I would choose to run outside in cold weather when I could use a perfectly good treadmill in a climate controlled space and b) I would be caught in public in a polyester/spandex blend.  The idea of doing both of those things filled me with such dread that I was plagued by strange dreams on Friday night (climbing rickety staircases, swimming in murky waters with manatees . . . yes, manatees).

After a restless night, I got up before dawn, reluctantly threw on a couple of layers of moisture wicking apparel, scraped the frost off the windshield, and drove to the group training location.  Thankfully, my self-consciousness dissolved when I arrived to find a sea of runners swathed in polyester/spandex.  And as the 10/1 pace group got underway, it seemed I had found the fine line between too many and not enough clothing layers.  Yay!

Then, one mile into the run, I shed my light-weight fleece jacket.  No problem!  I’ll simply tie it around my waist.

At the end of mile two, I removed my gloves.  Fine.  I’ll hold them instead of tucking them in my waistband.

Midway through mile three, at a much needed water stop, I took off my knit hat.  Er, okay.  I’ll stick my gloves inside the hat and hold the hat.    

By the end of the last mile, my breath was ragged, my hair was sweaty, and my scarf & feet were all but dragging.  I, who was fearful of wearing spandex in front of a crowd only an hour before, was ready to strip down to my skivvies.  Alas, I ran . . . in spandex . . .  for four miles in below freezing temperatures, and neither hell nor I froze over!

Now, on to Training Week Three . . . .

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