My “Why”

May 6, 2021

Marathon training has begun!! Naturally after not waking up at the crack of dawn for a training run for a while now, this week has me thinking about why I’m training for another marathon, fundraising at the same time, all with a baby at home! Why am I you ask? Well let me tell you a little story…

Cancer has touched my life in many ways over the years. My first encounter with cancer happened when I was 5 when one of my cousins was diagnosed and we went as a family to the Baseball Hall of Fame just days before he passed away. In 2002, while in high school, I met blood cancer, when my family learned my Grandma was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and unfortunately passed away a year after her diagnosis. Then in 2008 I watched a very close friend, Nikki, battle leukemia. It’s because of her that I have an even closer connection to leukemia. I worked with Nikki’s husband, Marc, and quickly got to know them both. In 2008 Marc and Nikki were blessed with their daughter Michaela, but sadly a short 3 months later Nikki was diagnosed with leukemia. She went through chemo and radiation but ultimately still needed a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, no one in her family was a match and she would need to find an unrelated donor. It was hard for me to watch such a wonderful person go through something so terrible. But that’s when I first learned about Be the Match. In March 2009, I signed up on the registry in honor of Nikki. Fortunately, Nikki was able to find an unrelated donor, began to recover and was soon doing well enough to be sent home. Sadly, she lost her battle with leukemia later in 2009 – she was only 30 and their daughter Michaela was only 9 months old. 

I do not remember anyone telling me the odds of being called as a bone marrow donor, but I did know it could be years if I was ever called at all. I was surprised when I got a call from Be the Match 3 months later saying I was a potential match for a 3 year old boy with leukemia; and the person on the other end of the phone askedTHE important question, was I willing to be his bone marrow donor? I didn’t have to think twice, I replied with a resounding yes. There was no doubt in my mind, I had a feeling that I was meant to help this little boy.

Everything moved quickly after that phone call. I had an initial appointment that evening to learn more about the donation process, the type of leukemia he was fighting and to sign some forms. Marc was kind enough to come with me to my appointment and give his support. My heart dropped when I was told that this little boy only had a 50% chance of surviving WITH a bone marrow transplant. For the boy I matched, his doctors requested actual bone marrow, so I was scheduled for surgery. Truth be told, I was scared, this was going to be my first surgery EVER. I just kept reminding myself of why I was doing this and how the little boy must be feeling, and it helped me get through it. I will never forget my dad telling me that my donation was “the best Christmas present I would ever give.”

January 7, 2010 was the day of my surgery, 9 months after I signed up to be a donor, and 3 months after Nikki passed away. My mom flew in to be with me and stick around to make sure I was ok. The entire procedure took an hour and they harvested about a soda can full of bone marrow. I stayed in the hospital for the day, long enough to watch a few movies and enjoy some delicious hospital food and was discharged that evening. 

Once I was home, I started thinking about the little boy wondering how he was doing. Rules dictated that I had to wait a WHOLE year before I could find out who he was. I got some updates here and there about how he was doing, but all anonymous. I prayed for him every day, a gut feeling told me he was doing well, recovering, and playing outside. For me, my life continued just as it did before my donation. 

When January 7, 2011 came around, I was hoping I would hear something about that little boy and my wish was granted that evening; I received an email from his parents! His name was Owen and because of me he was now 4 and doing well! His family was coming to Minneapolis for a checkup and wanted to meet. I was touched and overjoyed! His parents sent me a link to a blog they were keeping, and I stayed up very late reading all about Owen’s journey. I learned how he had been diagnosed, the trips to different hospitals around the country to find the right place for his treatment, his short fight with graft vs. host disease, and all of his family and friends that were supporting him in his hometown of Omaha.  

We met a week later in downtown Minneapolis. Mark and Heather, Owen’s parents, greeted me with big hugs and tears. Owen stopped by with a big grin, just long enough to say hi, since he was busy playing with his sister and brother. Surprisingly, I learned Owen and I had a lot in common. My donation and his transplant were on the same day, in the same hospital, just 1 floor apart. Along with sharing marrow we also share the same birthday.

I have been lucky to get to know Owen and his entire family. They are a kind and welcoming family, always taking the time to have fun. We keep in touch regularly; Owen’s parents were readers in our wedding and their whole family flew out to be with my husband and I on our special day. Owen’s dad is our son’s godfather and we could not be more grateful to have I am happy to say, Owen is 14, an amazing soccer player, loves the Minnesota Vikings, and best of all, Owen has no signs of cancer! What started off as my way of honoring a friend, turned into becoming part of another family and a lifelong friendship.

A friend and co-worker once asked me if I felt like I had finished making an impact in the world. My first response to her was yes! I had the opportunity to help save a life, what else could I possibly do? She looked at me, smiled and told me she didn’t think I was done quite yet. That conversation has stayed with me for years, and has kept me wondering what else can I do to make a difference, big or small? I want to leave this world a better place, make a difference in at least 1 person’s life by providing the same feeling of hope that Owen and his family had to another family fighting blood cancer. Owen and his family are my why for taking on another marathon and working to raise funds and awareness for LLS with TNT. Thinking of Owen and other cancer patients going through treatment will help keep me going when the training miles get long and difficult, because I’m sure chemo is much harder than a long training run. 

What about you? What is your “why” that keeps you going when things get hard?

Owen in January 2011 – His 1-year transplant anniversary!

P.S. I’ve officially started fundraising again for Team in Training (TNT) and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society! While I’m planning some fun events leading up to October 2021, please check out my TNT page and consider making a donation if you are able. Thank you!

And we’re back!

September 30, 2019

Wow, has it been a while! We figured it has been at least 6 years since our last post, and so much has happened in those 6 years. Let’s try to get caught up:

5 years ago: Jason proposed! While we were on a run around Lake of the Isles as Jason was training for his first half-marathon (Grandma’s Half actually –

4 years ago: We said “I do!” We decided on a smaller destination wedding in Lafayette, CA, just outside of San Francisco. It was magical, quaint and we felt so much love from our family and friends that attended.

We also decided 2015 was a good year to buy a new house, change jobs and run our first marathon. After all that we also decided no more major life changes in a year!

Our Wedding – April 2015

2-3 years ago: We both got settled into our new jobs, worked on our house and ran a couple more marathons each (Portland, OR in 2016, Laura ran Austin, TX in 2017, and Jason ran the Vancouver Marathon in 2018.)

We also took a bucket list trip for us to Banff, Canada. We fell in love and talk so often about going back! #futureretirementgoal

1 year ago: We lost our beagle Maggie, but welcomed Ernee into our lives! Ernee is a terrier/golden retriever mix with a crooked jaw. He was injured as a puppy, so his jaw is offset, and his tounge usually hangs out which just makes him more endearing! Ernee had one oral surgery before we adopted him and one oral surgery after we adpoted him. The best part is Ernee has no issues eating, drinking and is as happy as they come! He also looks very dapper wearing bow ties.

2019: It has been a whirlwind of a year. We have been trying to add to our family, and sadly have had 2 miscarriages so far. Early 2019 was rough and really hard on each of us individually and as a couple. We finally feel like we are coming to the other side and have grown stronger personally, as a couple and in our faith. We also welcomed another dog into our family! In May we adopted Lily, a pit bull/am staff/mastiff/great dane mix (or so we think). She and Ernee hit it off right away and not only have kept eachother busy, but have kept us busy with training them both!

Ernee & Lily

So fast forward to now, the beginning of fall 2019. We are both ready to take what we have learned over the last few years to be healthier, more active and grow together. And we cannot wait to see what the future holds!

Some of you may have heard, I am running my very first half-marathon this year on June 21st! That’s right, 13.1 miles… Go me!

I have completed my first week of training and things are going well so far. I was supposed to run about 14 miles this week but felt good enough to actually run about 16 miles. Things are looking great so far!

One thing that is special about this half marathon, other than it being my first, is that I am also raising funds for my favorite charity, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, as a St. Jude Hero.

What is a St. Jude Hero? They help fundraise to support St. Jude’s lifesaving mission of finding cures for childhood cancer and saving children. So, I need your support to help me reach my fundraising goal for the kids of St. Jude.

My goal is to raise $1,500 by June 21st and with the help of a few people, I’m already more than 30% of the way there! Just to give you an idea of what your donation does:

$50 – A “No Mo’ Chemo” party for one of the young patients to celebrate the end of their chemo treatments.
$100 – A special little red wagon so that the young patients don’t need to ride in a wheel chair at the hospital. Instead they get to ride in style, the way kids should.

Also, thanks to donors like you, no family ever pays St. Jude for anything, including lodging, food and travel.

If you are able, I ask that you consider making a donation to St. Jude in my name at the link below. If you aren’t able to make a donation, don’t worry. Just knowing I have you in my corner and you are spreading the word about what I’m doing is more than enough for me!

Thank you for taking the time to consider making a donation and sharing my information with your friends and family. I really appreciate your support.

– Jason

Paris Travel Tips

January 3, 2014

Did I mention that I love to travel? My first 2 years in the workforce I spent traveling alone around the US and I loved it! I got to visit some cities I probably would never have on my own. The best part is, my family loves to travel too. My parents started a tradition a few years ago, after my sister and I were out of their house, traveling for Thanksgiving. They discovered that it’s a great time to visit Europe, it’s not tourist season, the flights are relatively inexpensive, and we already have a couple of days off of work!

This past Thanksgiving, we were all lucky enough to join them in Paris! I do mean we too, my parents, my sister and her husband, Jason and I. Paris had been on my bucket list of places to visit and I was so excited to be able to experience it with my family. Paris is beautiful, the food is amazing, and there is so much to see! The hard part was trying to coordinate what everyone wanted to do while we were there! We hit a lot of the main highlights, the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Versailles, Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Mom and I even took a French cooking class! It was a busy trip but somehow we were able to fit it all in. I think we can all say we learned a few things about traveling in Paris on our trip. Some things we heard from others before we left, and some we figured out when we were there. So here is our top 5 list of Paris travel tips.

Eiffel Tower at night

Eiffel Tower at night

1. Buy a Metro pass
We were in Paris for a week, so after a couple days of buying carnets (packs of 10 metro tickets) we decided it would be more cost effective to buy a Metro pass. You can get around basically anywhere you need to in the city for the number of days you buy your pass for. The Metro was not hard to navigate either, as long as you know what stop you need before you get off, and all of our tour books were good about listing what Metro stop was the closest. By the end of the week we really knew what lines would get us back to our hotel!

2. Get the Museum Pass
If you have a lot of the main attractions on your list, I highly recommend the Museum Pass. It got us into the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Musée de l’Orangerie (Monet’s Water Lilies are beautiful!), the towers of Notre Dame, Centre Pombidou (modern art museum)…and the list goes on! A lot of the main attractions are included in the pass so it is worth checking out. You can buy the pass for a set number of days (1, 3, 5, etc) and it becomes active on the first day you use it, so you have to plan out your stops accordingly.

A Gargoyle on the towers of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower

A Gargoyle on the towers of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower

3. Spend some time sitting in a cafe
Everyone we talked to that had been to Paris said that we had to do this, and know I know why! It was fun to order a cappuccino, a snack, sit and just people watch. I loved to watch everyone in the cafes catching up with their friends, or family, in the middle of the work day! Les dux Magots is a well known cafe on Saint Germain that is supposed to have great people watching. Unfortunately, when we were there they were closed for renovations, but there are quite a few other cafes in that same area. That’s also by the oldest church in Paris which is cool to see!

4. Pay for the guided tour at Versailles
You have quite a few ticket options when you visit Versailles and our hotel concierge recommended purchasing tickets to the guided tour. You get to see the private apartments of King Louis XI and Louis the XVI, and the Royal Chapel with a smaller group, and the ticket includes admission to the rest of the palace as well! We walked the gardens, took the guided tour, then walked around the rest of the palace. We learned so much on the guided tour and it was so nice to be in a smaller group without all the crowds! The guided tour ticket is only €6 more and well worth it.

Inside the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

Inside the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

5. Have the hotel concierge recommend where they would eat, and go there!
Our hotel concierge was a wonderful young lady who could not have been more helpful! She strongly recommended reservations for dinner every night, and helped us find restaurants within walking distance from the hotel. My mom made it a point to ask her where she would go eat dinner, and then we had her make reservations at those places. We tried some traditional French cuisine, a concept restaurant where all the main dishes looked like desserts, tapas, and a small Italian place. It didn’t look like any of these restaurants could hold more than 30 people at a time and the food was always amazing! I don’t think we had a bad meal the entire trip! I’m going to have to remember this tip when I go places on my own too, always ask where the locals go eat.

We had a wonderful week in Paris, ate way to much, saw some amazing sights, and did quite a bit of shopping. Both Jason and I said we would go back, but this time take some day trips outside the city, and spend some more time just wandering around the streets of Paris. We found some cute areas with shops on the last couple days and we wish we had more time to spend just browsing. Until next time, au revoir!

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

Two weekends ago my 15 weeks of half-marathon training finally paid off! I completed my second Nike Women’s Half-Marathon in San Francisco and I could not be happier with how it went.

This will always be one of my favorite races. Not only is it put on by Nike (I love their stuff), but it’s in San Francisco (one of my favorite cities) and it helps benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). I first heard about it a few years ago, and it was easy to motivate me to train and run 13.1 miles! At the finish line you are greeted by San Francisco’s finest firemen dressed sharply in tuxedos, and instead of handing you a finishers medal, they hand you a custom Tiffany & Co. sterling sliver necklace!

The race is so popular Nike actually limits the number of people that can participate. So, there are two ways you can sign up. 1) Join Team in Training and fundraise for LLS or 2) Enter the lottery and hope your name is picked to be one of the 30,000 people that are running. When I ran in 2011, I entered the lottery by myself and luckily got picked! My mom and I made a long weekend out of it and had a blast. After telling a few of my girlfriends and fellow runners about it, they got excited and were interesting in trying to get in for 2012. We signed up as a team, and sadly, did not get picked. So we decided to give it another try this year, signed up as a team again called the MinneSNOWta Sexy Striders, and anxiously waited for mid-June when Nike was conducting the lottery. The nice part about signing up as a team, if someone on the team is picked, the entire team gets in! We hoped that would help our chances. A few of us were texting back and forth the day of the lottery, checking to see if anyone had gotten the e-mail that said we were in. One of the girls got her email that morning and we all knew we were going to San Fran in October!

Nike put together a pretty neat app which included information about the race, the course map, and a training program depending on how you wanted to do (finish or Personal Record (PR.)) Since I ran it before, I decided I wanted to PR and beat my time from 2011 of 2:28. I’m not going to lie, those 15 weeks of training got tough. There were plenty of early Saturday or Sunday morning long training runs, waking up at 5am to get my run in for the day, and days my legs were dead tired. It was addicting in a way though, checking to see what my workout was for the next day, and seeing if my time improved over my last run. I actually started to get faster and I’m a believer in tempo runs now, they are not just pointless intervals like I used to think.

My mom was probably just as excited as I was about getting into the run, so we planned a girls weekend. My mom and sister both flew into San Fran and we met up at the airport a couple of days before the run. We checked out the expo to get my race packet, try out some free food and score some free samples from Paul Mitchell and Neutrogena. Nike also puts the names of all the runners on display at their San Fran store, so we had to stop and take a pic. The atmosphere was so energetic it was contagious. Everyone was excited to be there and ready for the race.

At the NWM Expo 2013

At the NWM Expo 2013

Since the race was on Sunday, we spent Saturday doing a little sightseeing. Not too much walking was my only rule. So we checked out the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building, did a little shopping and met up with the rest of the team who flew in for dinner that night.

Spending time at the Ferry Building and Farmer's Market

Spending time at the Ferry Building and Farmer’s Market

Sunday, race day! Of course I was nervous, I get nervous before every race! A few of us met up at the start line and actually stuck together for most of the race. Let me tell you, running with people you know and chatting makes it go by so much quicker and is much more fun! I used to think I would rather run alone, just me and my thoughts, but chatting and encouraging each other throughout the course made it much easier! Now I know everyone thinks if you’re running in San Francisco you’re running up the steep hills. Not true! The first 5 miles or so is flat, you run through downtown and along the Embarcadero. These miles went by quickly and at mile 5 we thought that we could totally take on a full marathon some day.  Miles 6-10 you’re up in the Presidio, so yeah it’s hilly in there, but mile 10 makes it all worth it when you hang a left and see the beach and ocean just open up in front of you. We kept joking about how the hills were nothing compared to the hills on the trails we ran at home.  Miles 11-13 you run through Golden Gate Park and take in all the scenery. I kind of hit my wall around mile 11 thinking that I still had 2 more miles to go and how tired I was getting. But, a few of the girls were nearby and actually picked up the pace a little. They helped me get over the wall and find the energy to kick it into the finish.  I love the entire route because you get to see San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and be right by the ocean. It’s challenging, but definitely worth it.

2013 NWM Course Map

2013 NWM Course Map

I finished in 2:17, 11 minutes faster than my previous time and that is now my new PR! I was so happy with my time and felt great! My legs were tired, and I was thirsty but I earned that finisher’s t-shirt and necklace! Of course we had to take a picture with the handsome fireman too.



My mom and my sister were a fantastic cheering section! They made their own t-shirts to wear and signs to hold up on the course. We saw them around mile 4 and again at the finish line. I was so glad they were both able to come out and cheer me on! It was a fun girls weekend. After the race and a hot shower, I wanted one thing, a gigantic Ghirardelli ice cream sundae!

At the finish line with my awesome cheering section

At the finish line with my awesome cheering section!

We all flew back home on Monday, and my mom was already asking where my next destination race will be. So I’m taking suggestions! Let me know if you’ve done a destination race that you really enjoyed. So far the Disney Princess Half-Marathon, the Honolulu Marathon and Athens Marathon are on the list!

This past May, Laura and I set a challenge for ourselves, one 5k a month for 12 months to help keep us in “running shape.” This weekend was run #4, the Milk Run. The Milk Run is a 5k that is put on at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds during the Fair. We had the privilege of joining 18 other people as part of Team Dairy, a group of runners who work to promote dairy to help fuel active lifestyles. They hooked us up with team shirts and the entry into the race! It was going to be an extremely hot and humid day, so Laura and I tried to hydrate as much as we could in preparation for the race. It didn’t really help that we were at a wedding reception until late the night before the run.

We got to the fairgrounds around 6:45am after only a few hours of sleep, and it was already 84 degrees and super humid. Luckily there was a pretty steady breeze that helped a little bit. At 7am we met our team for a couple of team pictures and to get ready for the race to start.


At 7:45, standing amid a large group of excited and anxious runners, we heard the gun sound and we were off.

Now, my pace is about a minute per mile slower than Laura’s, but we decided to stay together for this run and actually forgo the norm of wearing our headphones. Plus, since Laura is in full on training mode for her half marathon in October, she wanted to take it easy. However, while running the race, I apparently started to get a little overzealous, sped up and tried to go for a Personal Record(PR). Sorry honey!

Here is what the course looked like:
2013-08-26 20_35_42-www.mnstatefair.org_pdf_13_MilkRunMap.pdf

The tough part about this course was that the first 2 miles or so was predominantly uphill. However, that means the last mile was almost all downhill and you could coast to the finish line. Some very nice homeowners had also aimed their sprinklers over the road to help keep all of us runners cool. As we neared the finish line, Laura challenged me to sprint it out to the end. I was doing fine until then, but I’m still glad I did it. All in all, it was a really fun run that we would enjoy doing again. The atmosphere was very relaxed, care-free, and fun! Funny thing is, we also both won door prizes which we totally didn’t expect!


After the run, we hopped into the fair for a few hours to eat the calories we just worked off. It wasn’t long before the massive crowds and the temps chased us back home to rest. Here are a few of the foods we tried:

If you’re interested in more information about the Milk Run, please click here.