Guest Post: My Rocky Relationship With “Running” and Running for a Cause

On Again, Off Again

Ah, running. How you and I seem to find each other every few months. And it’s always the same ol’ story. I’m taken by your charm, your charisma, your appeal. Pretty soon (maybe too soon?), I believe it’s love. For awhile, we’re getting together nearly every evening: We meet up at the gym or along the picturesque waterfront. We become inseparable for a month. “I’m committed to you,” I proudly proclaim one morning. “You’re my one and only.” You don’t say a word. I guess you know what’s coming. You’ve seen it too many times before.

“I have to work late,” I hurriedly say to you a couple weeks later. “What?!” I ask defensively as you silently stare back at me. “I have a deadline!” I explain with conviction. “Besides, the weather’s kind of damp. If you and I hang out tonight, I may catch a cold. And then I’ll be out of commission for days!”  Yes, that’s it. Even if I was ABLE to run tonight, I shouldn’t. It’s better this way. (Justification is a funny little thing.)

The next night, it’s something else. A dinner date with a few close friends. You gently remind me that that I don’t have to be at work until 9:45. Why not consider a jog before work? “You make a good point,” I admit. “A morning run is totally feasible.” And I do it! I really, really do it. In fact, I like it so much that I excitedly announce to you that a.m. jogs are going to be the new normal.

That lasts for three days.

Over the next month, our get-togethers wean down to about once a week. Then to once every 2 weeks and before long, you and I are history. It’s a fairly amicable breakup, but no one here is a winner. I feel like a failure; you feel used. For a couple months, we have no contact. Then we bump into each other one Sunday morning and start up our rocky relationship all over again…


Running for a Cause

Last spring, I was in a really good place with running (we’d been hanging out religiously for a good month and a half. Deep down, I knew it wouldn’t last. I’d do the breaking up for sure, but I was enjoying things while they lasted). The reason I was feeling so committed was because I was training for the Phillips 5K Run/Walk, an event put on by the Christopher and Susan Phillips Foundation. The Foundation was started in July 2011, when my dear friend Sharon Phillips experienced the most unthinkable of tragedies: She lost her mother Susan (64) and her brother Chris (27) within days of each other.

As Sharon waded through her grief, it became clear that their deaths could not, would not, be in vain. And so, the Christopher and Susan Phillips Foundation was born, with a single, solid mission: To help others. It just made sense—Christopher was studying to be a nurse and had also volunteered  as an EMT; Susan was a Pharmacist Technician at Walgreens for nearly two decades, and customers used to ask for her by name.

Sharon Phillips and her boyfriend Geoff Lenat at the Wine Tasting Fundraiser at Villa Rose Winery in Madison, NJ (October 2012)

Sharon Phillips and her boyfriend Geoff Lenat at the October 2012 Wine Tasting Fundraiser at Villa Rose Winery in Madison, NJ

Since its start, the Foundation has hosted a multitude of fundraisers including the Annual Wine Tasting Fundraiser in both 2012 and 2013—each year, the event drew hundreds of people, and the money raised helped go toward scholarships for two graduating students of Jonathan Dayton High School—the alma mater of the entire Phillips family.

And the 1st Annual Phillips 5K Run/Walk was held last year at Watchung Reservation in Morristown, NJ . On a beautiful June morning, friends, family, and complete strangers took to the trail while volunteers and supporters lined the route, the starting line, and the finish line.

Sharon Phillips gets the runners ready at the Phillips 5K Run Walk at Watchung Reservation (June 2012)

Sharon Phillips gets the runners ready at the 2012 Phillips 5K Run Walk at Watchung Reservation

That day, I ran well.  Not my BEST time ever, but when you factor in the typical trail obstacles (sticks, stones, hills, and the risk of spills), I did A-OK. This time, I wasn’t running for any type of fickle reason. I was moving and sweating and breathing and believing—all in the name of Chris. And Sue. And Sharon. My dear friend Sharon who, even on days when it feels nearly impossible, continues to put one foot in front of the other.

Frank Phillips, Sharon's father, awards a medal to one of the winners of the race.

Frank Phillips, Sharon’s father, awards a medal to one of the winners of the 2012 race.

On June 9, 2013, the Christopher and Susan Phillips Foundation will host the Phillips 5K/10K Run/Walk at Lewis Morris Park in Morristown, NJ. To register for the race, get a map of the route, and see a schedule of the day, please visit

To learn more about the Foundation’s initiatives, visit or


Jodi Rigotti is a Senior Editor at QualityHealth, a consumer health website based out of Jersey City, NJ. Her hobbies include exploring new neighborhoods in and around New York City, trying her hand at new vegetarian recipes, and working out when she feels like it. She currently lives in Hoboken, NJ with her husband (and college sweetheart), Dan.

Runners giving back: Medals4Mettle

The running community is a strong and rowdy bunch. There’s a certain level of insanity the comes along with runners, people who choose to spend much of their free time running long distances for the love of the sport and achieving the impossible (with a side of bragging rights and medals sometimes thrown in for good measure).

After an event like the one at the Boston Marathon, there’s a certain sense of helplessness that hits us. We are doers, movers and shakers, so to do nothing is not an option.

Since Monday’s tragedy, we’ve participated in reflection runs; we’ve worn the Boston Marathon colors of blue and gold; we’ve donned race shirts from any and all events; we’ve prayed for the victims, first responders, runners and the city of Boston.


And we’re still left asking, What else is there? What more can we do to show support, solidity and love?

Well, friends, might I offer up Medals4Mettle?

met·tle  /ˈmetl/ Noun
A person’s ability to cope well with difficulties or to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way.

In May 2005, Dr. Steven Isenberg gave his own Chicago Marathon medal to his patient, Les Taylor, who was battling prostate cancer. Before his death, Taylor told Dr. Isenberg just how much the medal meant to him.

From that seed Medals4Mettle blossomed. I first heard about Medals4Mettle, or M4M, last year when I began running races.

Currently M4M is collecting Boston Marathon medals from any year to give to Monday’s victims and first responders.


For those who haven’t run the Boston Marathon, M4M will gratefully accept all donations of hard-earned half marathon, full marathon or triathlon medals to those battling life-threatening illnesses and severe disabilities.

“Think about when you are out on a course, and you have dozens to hundreds of people you don’t know who are cheering you on, and want to see you succeed and get to the finish line,” said Andrea Herrmann of M4M.  “This is our chance to return this encouragement to others, and to celebrate their strength in dealing with their health struggles, cheering them to their personal finish lines.”


Directors and chapter coordinators are all volunteers at M4M. I reached out to my local chapter coordinator, Reed Costello, who said that his responsibilities include local awareness and collecting/passing medals along to the area coordinator who then distributes them to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The children love receiving the medals and the runDisney medals are among the favorites; many wear the donated medals to chemo treatment or hang them from their IV pole.

A selfless way to lift someone’s spirits and give back, Medals4Mettle is a non-profit organization that assists runners and athletes in doing just that.

Have you ever given your race medal to someone else? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!