Top 5 Reasons to Donate to the 2012 Run for AIR

Hi there!

So if you live in the U.S., you’ve probably realized (per the obnoxious storefront displays and Hallmark commercials) that it’s Thanksgiving Week…

..Which also means it’s Run for AIR Week!

So to celebrate, we are counting the TOP FIVE REASONS to donate to the 2012 Run for AIR.


Starting with number 5…

5. The obvious: It will help AIR to build sustainable, community-based reforestation programs in a region with one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world.
The world Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that Guatemala loses approximately 15% of its forest cover annually – a higher percentage than that of Brazil. AIR combats this devastating destruction of forest by working with local communities to establish and maintain community reforestation projects. In over 20 years of work, AIR has trained over 2000 community members throughout Guatemala and Nicaragua to plant nearly 4 million trees throughout the region. And over 90% of those trees are still standing today.

4.The less obvious: It will help to combat malnutrition.
Guatemala has the 4th highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world. Much of this is due to poor soil quality, and the problem of soil erosion (as most of Guatemala’s population is forced to farm on steep mountainsides, where soil erosion and mudslides on deforested slopes wash away crops). Trees help to improve soil quality – the roots hold the soil in place, while at the same time replenishing nutrients – which in turn improve crop yields. After 5 years of working with AIR, many farmers have reported that their crop yields have DOUBLED.

3. It is a highly effective and *humanitarian* way to get rid of all that pesky cash you’ve got lying around.
Ok, so we understand that the U.S. (like most of the world) is (still) in a recession. Money is tight. Folks are having to make some tough decisions (latté or regular coffee – gasp!).
In all seriousness, though, as bad as things are here, they are even worse in Central America, where AIR works. According to the United Nations, Guatemala and Nicaragua rank among the top nations in the world for income inequality. Approximately two-thirds of the population of Guatemala lives on less than $2/day, with approximately half of the population living on less than $1/day.
AIR helps to combat this severe poverty through the gift of trees. Through their work in community-based reforestation programs, local community members not only grow and plant their own trees, but also sell them to neighboring communities – who see the value that trees have in terms of improving soil and crop yields, and often ask to work with AIR to establish reforestation projects of their own.

2. It’s tax-deductible.
‘Nuf said.

And the Number 1 reason to donate to the Run for AIR…

1. It will make you – and the people of Guatemala and Nicaragua – very, very HAPPY!!!
Really! Research shows that acts of kindness boost our levels of dopamine – the neurotransmitter that researchers attribute to that warm, fuzzy feeling we get when we pet a puppy or kitten, or when we pay a stranger’s parking meter. (Does anyone actually do that?).
Your donation will also link you to the people of Guatemala and Nicaragua who depend upon the work that AIR does to protect their environment and crops. This link endures – it lasts as long as the trees that it funds AIR to plant. Through your donation, you become part of what we call the AIR family.

And isn’t celebrating family what Thanksgiving is all about?

*Thank you* for reading,

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Run for AIR Updates (or Fundraising and the Diffusion of Responsibility)

Run for AIR Updates (or Fundraising and the Diffusion of Responsibility)

Any freshman Psych student can tell you about the psychological phenomenon known as diffusion of responsibility.

Simply stated, diffusion of responsibility refers to the reduced likelihood of individuals to take action when they believe that others will act instead. It is most likely to occur under conditions of anonymity.

And any person who has ever undertaken a fundraising effort can tell you about the significant challenges that diffusion of responsibility poses to online fundraising.

Which brings us to our Run for AIR update.


I know from the WordPress blog statistics that we have over 150 readers of this blog. To those of you that read, THANK YOU.

To those who have read AND donated, AN EVEN BIGGER THANK YOU.

If everyone who reads the blog pledges $10 to AIR on behalf of the Run for AIR cause, we will easily surpass our fundraising goal.

So why not? It’s $10. It’s for a good, life-saving cause. It’s tax deductible.

Do it. Here:

Don’t pass the buck to your anonymous neighbor.

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Morning Commute, Post-Hurricane Sandy

Brooklyn Bridge traffic.

With few public transit options, this is what the new morning commute looks like. 16 miles round-trip, 0 carbon footprint.

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Run for AIR Updates Post-Hurricane Sandy

My husband and I moved from Florida to NYC just over two years ago.
First Tim Tebow followed us.
Then the hurricanes did, too.
The impact that Hurricane Sandy has had on the city cannot be overstated. Officials are saying the storm exceeded their worst case scenario predictions. Massive storm surges and winds have wiped out commercial and residential areas along the coast in Brooklyn and Long Island. Queens suffered both floods and fires – leaving several residential blocks completely leveled. The entire lower half of Manhattan is in darkness, due to a massive explosion at a ConEd power plant on 14th Street. The majority of the subway system – a system that 5 million people depend upon for their daily commute – was completely flooded, and will likely take several weeks to be restored to a fraction of its normal operating capacity.

And day by day, we are hearing more news of tragic storm-related fatalities.
In short, the city that never sleeps has come to a grinding halt this week.
But New York is no stranger to adversity – or recovery.
Even as I type this, cleanup crews, volunteers, and technicians are working to clear the streets, and rebuild the power plant and subway lines. While their efforts will not bring back the lives of loved ones who were lost due to the storm, they will go a far way towards restoring some sense of normalcy to the city – and they must be commended for their work.
In addition to questions about the safety and well-being of my husband and I (we’re fine, thank you!), I’ve also gotten plenty of questions about the Run for AIR. Namely, with all the chaos of this past week, will it go on?

By the time the Run for AIR is scheduled to take place on Thanksgiving Day, the majority of the city cleanup should be completed. Additionally, because the Run for AIR will take place entirely within a city park, it will not require the support of city officials and will therefore not constitute a drain on city resources.

So I pledge to you and to all of AIR’s supporters that the Run for AIR Marathon will take place as originally scheduled, on Thanksgiving Day of this year.
In the meantime, please keep the impacted communities and families who lost loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.

And thank you, as always, for your support.

Click here to donate to the Run for AIR:

Very best,

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Race Report: Poland Springs Marathon Kickoff

Yesterday kicked off the 2012 NYC Marathon Week – 7 days of a total runner geekfest in the city, culminating with the annual running of the ING NYC Marathon on November 4. To celebrate the beginning of Marathon Week, New York Road Runners hold a “kick off” 5 mile race in Central Park – the Poland Springs 5 Miler.

I ran this race as a tune-up event (per reader requests), for the Run for AIR marathon that I’ll be doing on Thanksgiving.

For more information on AIR (or to make a donation!) please visit:

And *wow* imagine my surprise when I saw that I had a 20+ mile run scheduled the exact same day as this glorious 5 mile race! So the question of the day was: 15+ miles before or after the 8:30am race? …or: how strong is your coffee?


Well I figured that since I normally get up at 4:30 on the weekdays anyways why not?! 15+ mile warm-up it was!

The morning of the race my ever-supportive (and super fast runner) husband and I dragged our carcasses out of bed hopped out of bed like two sprightly chipmunks at **4:30 am**, ready to conquer the day!!

Committed and fueled by amazing jet fuel coffee, we set off on our pre-dawn run through the streets and parks of New York City.

And so we ran – from the hipster neighborhoods of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, across the expanse of the Brooklyn Bridge lit only by the glow of the skyline, through the Financial District and on to Riverside Park.

Morning at Riverside Park.

And as day broke we ran through the Park – which stretches nearly the entire length of the west side of Manhattan, along the Hudson River – all the way to 66th Street, where we cut across to Central Park, to the start of the race.

Lining up to the start with nearly 5,000 other runners, I tried to ignore the soreness in my legs and a growling tummy that reminded me I hadn’t eaten in the past 2 hours…and then the horn blared and the race was on.

I honestly don’t remember much about the race – I just tried to keep a steady pace and avoid being passed. What I do remember is thinking -as I do every time I run in Central Park – how amazing it is to live here. And how fortunate I am to be able to do the sports that I love. In short, I was grateful.

And hungry. I remember being hungry.

I think that ironically it was my low blood sugar and hunger that made me run *a little* faster the last few miles. I wanted that iconic bagel provided by NYRR at the end of every race they put on.

I ended up finishing in a time of 38 minutes, averaging roughly 7:40 per mile…not bad considering the significant mileage we had racked up just prior to the race.

And after crossing the finish line I looked down at my watch and saw…that I still had 4 more miles to get in to reach my goal of at least 20 miles.

So I did.

After having a bagel.

Or two.

Thanks for reading!

P.S. – According to my super handy GPS tracker, the total mileage for yesterday was actually 21 miles.

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Run for AIR Fundraising Update

Thank you to all of our amazing donors who have helped the cause so far!!! Because of your generosity we are HALFWAY to our goal of raising $2000 for AIR!
To learn more about AIR and the importance of planting trees in Central America – and to donate – please visit
All proceeds from the Run for AIR will benefit this great organization – THANK YOU again for making every mile count this holiday season!

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On Challenges and Strategies for TWT (Training While Traveling)

While many of us have the dream of becoming professional athletes – with our days consisting of nothing more than training, eating, sleeping, and watching back-to-back seasons of CSI or Mad Men – not all of us have the genetics to allow for us to realize this dream.

For the rest of us, we have to work to support our running habits.

And while balancing work, family, and a marathon training schedule may be difficult, doing so with a work schedule that demands a significant amount of travel time can be even moreso.

I’m fortunate to work in public health, and have a job that allows me to earn a living while also helping underserved populations. It is also a job that requires anywhere between 50-75% of travel. This schedule can make it tough to adhere to any training regimen that calls for consistency and a commitment to get in a predetermined # of miles within a very specific heartrate/pace. So I have had to develop a couple of key strategies to ensure that I stick to my training while I’m on the road. (Important note: These strategies are not just for athletes/long distance runners! they can be helpful to anyone looking to maintain fitness while being on the road for an extended period of time!)

Strategy #1: Look at your schedule, find a time of day that works for you to train, and stick with it:

A lot of my travel involves attending conferences and meetings that may take up the bulk of the day. For me, I’ve found that training in the early morning works best. I know that if I wait until after a day jam-packed with presentations meetings, and strategic planning that I will likely be WAAAY too exhausted by the afternoon/evening to commit to anything other than pizza.

(vegetarian of course)

And so I commit to waking up however early I need to in order to get in at least 1.5 hours worth of training. This means sometimes getting up at 4am.

I know.

But it’s worth it – and it’s what I need to do in order to get my training in. Plus, it is a fantastic energy boost to get you through a long day. Just be sure to bring along an extra cup of coffee (or tea, or whatever Energy Drink will best keep you from falling out of your chair for a snoozefest during that important meeting with the CDC).

Strategy #2: You’re in a new area – EXPLORE!

Over the past year, I’ve been able to visit parts of the US and beyond that I have never seen before. And I don’t know about you all, but I would rather count the dust mites on the hotel room floor than spend a minute on a treadmill. Why confine yourself to the hotel gym? Instead use this opportunity to explore this new area on foot – search up a local park or rail-to-trail, and get in some quality miles! This has let me find some absolutely gorgeous trails in new locations in in Massachusetts, South Carolina, Texas, Georgia, Minnesota – and truly appreciate what the community has to offer.

Murphey Candler Park in Chamblee, GA

Strategy #3: Be Innovative!

OK, so I completely acknowledge that there will be times when Mother Nature or other unforeseen elements throw a monkey wrench into your plans. Take this past week for example: I had to travel to Minneapolis for a conference. I checked the weather beforehand and it said it would be 50 degrees and *sunny*(!) the entire week. I packed accordingly.

It was 30 degrees and snowy.

I was able to get out for a couple of runs in this weather, but by the last day the temperature had dropped even further. Given my aforementioned aversion to the treadmill, I opted for an old standby workout:

The hotel stairwell.

A.k.a. workout of last resort.

That’s right – running stairs is an absolutely great cross training workout for runners and cyclists alike. It builds quads, glutes – and mental toughness.

Just make sure you have some good tunes to get you through it.

What strategies do you have for staying fit and training on the road? I’d love to hear them!

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Rachel

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