Journal Entry

Saturday night, October 15, 2005

Running with a Life Saving Mission

"With miles of hope for cancer research"

Dear Friends of Christi,

I know, I just wrote recently, but here’s another entry.  This one; however, will start out with a piece written by Shayne:

This morning was my last long run (20 miles).  Next week is 15 and the following is 10 which will complete my tapering down - leading up to the marathon.  When you are out on a 20 mile run you have plenty of time to think.  As I started out on this beautiful fall day my mind was full of thoughts of contrast.  It took a mile to get the smile off my face from a story Angela told me about her conversation with my high school track coach yesterday at school.  He was SHOCKED to hear that I was going to run the New York Marathon.  I was not exactly a dedicated track athlete years ago.  My buddy Irv and I would leave the weight room on sunny days to throw the shot put and discus.  Mostly though we lifted weights and moved track equipment when Coach needed help.

So anyways these thoughts got me into thinking about differences and changes-contrasts etc.  This week I had received a detailed marathon course description from the New York Road Runners Club.  The course I ran today could not possibly any more different than what I will run in a few weeks.  The first sign of life I saw on my run in rural Seneca County was a farmer hooking up a gravity wagon to take grain to the elevator.  No, I probably won’t see that in New York .  OK so I am running real roads here and no cars are passing me!! Nothing - just quiet country.  There a few horses milling around in a pasture, but beyond that I left undisturbed for the first six miles of my run! 

The first vehicle that passed me was a Tiffin Deluxe van-(local heating/cooling/plumbing contractor) that was exactly the lift that I needed!  What? Why?  Oh, let me tell you.  When we were staying in New York with Christi in 2003 my mom called and told us that a huge storm had come through the area and that our sump pump had quit working allowing our basement to flood as a consequence.  I told her who to call “to fix it”.  She called Tiffin Deluxe and they came right out and took care of it for us.  About six weeks later I am lying in the hospital with Christi at MSKCC.  It dawns on me that I never got a bill from Tiffin Deluxe.  (Believe me I am very anal about paying things on time.)  So I call Tiffin Deluxe and Sue answers.  I say “Sue, I am not sure what happened; I don’t get all of my mail on a regular basis, but it just dawned on me that I have not paid you for the sump pump.” Her reply tells volumes of how blessed we have been:  “Shayne there was no bill and you should not be worrying about things like this, just worry about getting your little girl well and bringing her home.” 

Back to the run… about mile eight I then turned down County Road 12.  It is a very narrow (smaller than any New York side walk) winding road that follows the path of Honey creek.  It is a beautiful tree lined road.  The maple, oaks and poplars that lined it are in full color, only the gentle rustling of the corn fields disturbed the quiet.  Again I thought of the contrast.  Me- a country banker doing my last long training run on a small scenic tree lined road….meanwhile in New York there were high powered investment bankers doing their final training runs in the middle of a busy metropolis-different yet united in a goal.  On this wonderful little stretch of road the only sign of life was a solo black cat which did not raise my superstition until I notice the vultures circling overhead.  At this point I was just too happy to take note of the foreshadowing.

Mile 12 took me into the little village of Bloomville .  There I rehydrated and sucked down a hammer gel.  I walked the quarter mile through town and then began to trot at the village limit sign.  Now I was on a state route and began to get harassed by traffic.  Happily, I turned off that route looking to return to my idyllic first half of my run.  Much to my dismay, I turned into a 20 mile per hour head wind.  The next four miles can be summed up as pain, suffering, chaffing, and cursing.  Even the imagery changed.  Now instead of gentle rustling of the corn I heard the howl of the wind going passed my ears.  There was road kill everywhere and even a snake sunning himself on the road.  Instead of the pastoral image of a farmer taking his crops to market I sustained the constant growl of the combines mixed with the smell of diesel and dust.  It seemed like there was a never ending series of uphills.  When I headed up what looked like an enormous hill I said to myself, “just imagine that this is the Queensburo Bridge and that after you crest the top you will stride into Manhattan to cheering crowds along First Avenue ”.  Well, as I crested that hill something far better than cheering crowds appeared, it was Angela and Shayla in the van!  They refueled and rehydrated me and got me off and running with new pep in my step!

The final four miles were actually much easier.  These were the “good neighbor” miles.  I ran by many people who have at various times and various ways lifted us up during Christi’s cancer battle.  Depinets, Frankarts, Shocks, Gosches, Fabrizios, Petrisionos, etc. we definitely have great neighbors.  As I jogged passed Gosche’s, (Kaylyn is one of Christi’s best friends) I was suddenly struck by the fact that if things do not work out for Christi I will have to face her friends.  I must be able to honestly say that we did everything we possible could to save her.  From their perspective Christi could never let them down, but perhaps we could.  I think I could lie to myself, but not them - we must find a cure.  So I will continue to fundraise because it is the right thing to do.  Again I thank you for your support of this great cause.


Angela here!  Well, thanks to very generous donors, he’s qualified to be a member of “Fred’s Team” by raising the $2,000 needed.  His “official outfit” also arrived so note the photo at the top of this entry.  (Doesn’t he look cute in orange and purple?!!)  Well, I think this is the appropriate place to share some “funnies” regarding Shayne’s preparations for the marathon which began back in June.

*One day in July Shayne was trying to get his 14 mile run in.  They kept calling for rain and he kept waiting for it to come and get over with so he could head out.  Finally, he decided he’d best not wait any longer and he’d just head out.  After an hour or so I was folding towels on the kitchen table when I saw the sky darken and a bolt of lightning flash.  I said, “Girls, get in the van now.  Don’t even put on your shoes, we’ve got to go save Daddy!”  And we did – just in the nick of time!  I was thankful.  Just as he hopped in the van a huge downpour erupted and we were engulfed in the midst of a fierce summer storm.

*About a month ago, Shayne was going to do about an 18 mile run with a friend.  He set the alarm for 4:30 AM and he was all ready to go at 5:30 when they were leaving.  Well, wires were crossed so at 6:15 Shayne headed out without him.  I was worried about him going that far alone so after an hour and a half I loaded up waters and dry clothes and headed out going the same path he told me he’d be taking.  Well, I drove it twice without a trace of him so I became quite nervous.  Then on 224 I saw some “suspicious” looking folks trying to hitchhike, but tried to not stereotype and judge.  Then on 100 I saw two more again trying to get a ride.  Finally, I called the Sheriff’s department to report some hitch hikers and that was when I learned that “my description fit the description of four individuals who were released from jail that morning”.  Then I was REALLY worried!  Finally, I found him – you see Shayne states, “It was such a gorgeous morning that I added an extra loop to my route.”  Whew!  (That actually happened again another week when I went out looking for him and he had again varied the route.)

*I learned that someone was talking to Shayne about his training for the marathon and they assumed he was training for next year’s 2006 marathon.  When he learned it was for next month he told Shayne, “You’d better start training.  Do you think you’re just going to go out and run this thing?”  Seriously, Shayne has been following a training program since the day of Jay Barnett’s death.  He’s running for a mission; he’s running to help find a cure.  “Can you imagine a world without cancer?!”  You see when one first enters this world everything one has ever known is stripped from them.  A normal life no longer exists.  There is no more control, period.  There are no more choices for you to make, period.   I believe that Shayne is used to taking control and solving problems.  Since he’s not able to solve this one, he’s using what power and control he does have to try to help others find the answer to the problem.  Knowing what other parents in this situation do to help them cope, I’m thrilled with Shayne’s healthy choices in how he manages this unbelievable stress that we live 24/7.  He’s amazing!

*Finally, my last “funny” happened just yesterday.  Our former high school health teacher and Shayne’s former track coach subbed in the classroom next to mine.  After school he stopped by to chat and he also told me to ask Shayne if he’d attend a fundraiser that they’re trying to get started as an Alumni Track Team Member.  I responded, “Of course! And actually he qualified for the New York City Marathon and he’s running in it next month.”  Ohhhhhhhhhhh, you should have seen the look on Coach Schar’s face!!!!!!!!  He was completely stunned!  You see – Shayne wasn’t exactly a runner.  He was on the team, but he threw disc and shot put.  It’s amazing what cancer can make you do.  Now I recently told Shayne’s Jr. High track coach, who was also substitute teaching in our building, about Shayne’s upcoming marathon and I chuckled to Mr. Jones saying, “You probably never let him run on your team did you?  I think he just threw shot and disc.”  Mr. Jones surprised me by saying, “He did run and I remember a race where he fell and actually crawled to the finish line.”  Paul went on to tell me how bad Shayne felt and how proud of Shayne he was for doing that and showing his commitment and drive.

I know, I know, you’re really checking in to inquire about Christi’s health; I will put just a quick final note here to let you know that Christi continues to feel very well.  She’s been going to school every day as well as taking horse riding lessons, ballet, jazz, religion and piano lessons every week.  She had a fabulous time with her friends at the sleepover.  Her hair is still here although I’m truly not certain if that will remain.  Dr. Maris told me this summer “after a few rounds of the irino/temador it is highly likely that it will fall out again”.  She just finished her third round and she’ll start her 4th round on Thursday.  I think if/when it does fall out again, she’s not going to take it well this time.  I guess what is funny to a five year old isn’t funny when you’re in the fourth grade.  Regardless, she’s alive, she’s treasured and she’s oh so special to us!!  We have been richly blessed by this cherished little princess.  "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  (Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Thanks for checking in and be certain to hug your loved ones today!  You don’t know what tomorrow may bring.

Angela & Shayne

Parents of:  Christi (now 8) NBIV, dx. 9/11/02 at age 5 and fighting for NED ever since.  Treated at: Columbus , OH (9/2002 to 12/2002), MSKCC (12/2002-9/2003) and CHOP (9/2003-current). 10 rounds chemo, 4 rounds 3F8s, surgery by Dr. LaQualia, 2 high dose MIBGs with stem cell rescue, 3 rounds accutane, 17 rounds of ABT-751, just finished her 3rd round of oral irino/temador and praying for a promising trial to soon open.

What’s next?

The American Red Cross and the Community Hospice Care will be sponsoring a blood drive in “Christi Thomas’s Honor” on Friday, October 21st from 9:00 - 3:00 PM . The bloodmobile will be at 181 W. Perry Street , Tiffin , Ohio and Christi will be there!  Walk-ins are welcome, but it's best to make an appointment ahead of time. Call Becky Schank at Hospice at 419-447-4040 or toll free at 1-800-834-8100. 

So this will be the outline of the course: 

Marathon Madness : Mile-By-Mile Course Tour 

Segmenting the course in your mind is a great way to break it down into more manageable pieces. After all, 26.2 miles not only sounds like a long way to run—it is! So take it one borough at a time, enjoying all that New York City has to offer along the way.

The Start/Staten Island
At the boom of the cannon, you are off and running—uphill. The first mile is up the incline of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge . It actually doesn't seem that steep, as you have to start slowly due to the crowd. You are full of adrenaline, and you can't see the slope ahead of you, just a mass of runners. Think of this as a safeguard—if you had a perfect start, you would most likely sprint up the hill and waste a lot of energy that you would love to have late in the race.

The second mile is all downhill. Be careful not to pick the pace up too much here or you will not only waste energy, but you could also overstride and cause an injury as you are not fully warmed up. It is best to disregard your time splits for the first 2 miles, as they are not accurate readings of your pace. Average your time for the first 2 miles for a more accurate reading.

From 2 to 8 miles the course is fairly flat and can be fast, depending on which way the wind is blowing. There are some slight ups and downs, but not too bad. And it is almost a perfect straight line. The Green and Blue starts merge on Fourth Avenue just before 4 miles. Until mile 8 they are to the right of the median, and the Orange start is to the left. Crossing the median is prohibited—for one thing, it's dangerous, and for another, the Orange start runners have covered less distance at this point, so for them to cross would be cutting the course. This disparity also means that Green and Blue start runners shouldn't attempt to pace themselves with Orange start runners—at least not until after the 8-mile mark, where all three starts merge.

Use the huge Williamsburg Bank clock tower to guide you to the 8-mile mark and the first ING Cheering Zone at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. A bit past that point, you encounter a few uphills that aren't too nasty, but after running along the relatively flat sections for 6 miles they can upset your ryhthm. Then, from 8.5 to about 10 miles you get some nice downhills, followed by some moderate ascents over the next mile. From 11 miles to the 20K mark it is mostly down or flat. Look forward to a nice downhill at 20K as you turn right. Then you go left, toward the Pulaski Bridge , and climb more than a quarter-mile, passing the 13-mile mark and the half-marathon mark on the way to the bridge's crest.

You then zoom down the other side of the bridge into Queens . The next mile or so is mostly flat, with the second ING Cheering Zone at mile 13.8. But brace yourself for what lies ahead. You start a gradual climb at about 14.5 miles, then turn left and start the steep half-mile climb up the Queensboro Bridge . You pass the 15-mile mark soon after you start the climb. The half-mile down the other side of the bridge is tough on the legs, as it is steep and you wind sharply to the left at the steepest section at the bottom, where you cross the 16-mile mark.

Now begins the charge through the largest and loudest crowd on the course. First Avenue is straight, but it is not flat by any means. Rather it is a series of moderate ups and downs ranging from two blocks to over a mile. Know when the downs are coming, and use them for relief and to push a bit more to make up some time.

From 60th Street to 70th Street is up, then down from 70th to 74th - past MSKCC and the Ronald McDonald house where you will see the pediatric patients and their parents cheering you on in your orange and purple uniform.  This is followed  from 74th to 86th, down from 87th to 90th, then a flat stretch to 96th. From there begins a difficult stretch. It is uphill almost all the way to 125th Street , and then you climb almost half a mile to the top of the Willis Avenue Bridge . In addition to the uphills, the thinning crowd makes this section tough as you get farther away from the rowdy East Side bars.

Near the end of the bridge, you at last get a downhill, which takes you past the 20-mile mark. This part of any marathon can be tough but the third ING Cheering Zone, at mile 20.5, should give you a boost. Continue down and around to the right where you have a one-block flat segment, followed by a left turn and half a mile uphill on 138th Street and over the Madison Avenue Bridge, where you cross the 21-mile mark. Finally, you dip down, then turn left onto Fifth Avenue .

Manhattan , Again
You are now—at last—headed south for Central Park ! The crowds in Harlem are very loud and supportive, especially the gospel singers at the churches. The half-mile after 21 miles is flat, then slightly uphill. Don't get fooled when you see trees ahead. It's not Central Park yet, but rather Marcus Garvey Park , site of the fourth ING Cheering Zone. You go right, left, left, right around it (and the turns are not easy on the legs at this stage!), and at 22 miles return to Fifth Avenue, where you enjoy a flat-to-slightly-downhill half mile to the edge of Central Park at 110th Street. But don't get too used to it. After you cross 110th Street the route gradually ascends. The 23-mile mark is at 103rd Street , and if you're struggling, you can tell yourself that from here it is just over 5K to the finish!

However, from here almost all the way to 90th Street is—sorry—uphill. Use 90th and Fifth as a mental uplift. Many local runners gather here before and after training runs, and NYRR's headquarters is nearby at 9 East 89th Street . Think of it as very friendly running territory. You cross the 24-mile mark at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a location with a large crowd, then roll down a half-mile hill to Loeb Boat House. This is followed by a short but significant incline-nothing uphill is insignificant at this point—that carries you past the 72nd Street transverse. It's flat and slightly downhill as you approach the 25-mile mark, where you veer left to exit the park via a half-mile downhill stretch—hooray!

You turn right onto Central Park South by the Plaza Hotel and go a quarter-mile slightly uphill, flanked by huge crowds. At Seventh Avenue , you get a long block downhill as you collect your energy for the final assault. At Columbus Circle , you zoom down a 100-yard stretch to the park's West Drive , then start a gradual ascent that becomes a serious climb at the 26-mile mark.

But so what! You can't even see the grade. All you can see are marathoners—your fellow heroes and heroines—bordered by the massive cheering crowd. And soon all you see is that wonderful, long-awaited sight: the finish line clock. You may have felt and looked awful a few yards back, but now is the time to look great for all your fans, and for the finish-line photo that will stir memories for many years. Painful memories, for sure, but proud ones. Because conquering a marathon is a serious accomplishment. Beating the New York City Marathon is even more special. For more info on what to know before you go, visit--

Congratulations to each of our runners as you anticipate crossing the finish line of the 2005 ING New York City marathon with Fred's Team. On behalf of the patients and families served by MSKCC, we thank you for your commitment!

The Fred's Team Staff