A lesson in Gratitude – The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner is a beautiful story written by Deborah Ellis as a book series which was made into an Oscar nominated animated film.

I just saw this film last night and felt that I needed to share.

Set in Kabul, Afghanistan, ‘The Breadwinner’ is a very poignant story reminding us of just how good most of us have it and how much we take for granted.

I watched it with my young sons and gave them the usual lecture of “See? You complain about chores, but look what other children in the world have to do!!! A whole family living in one room – while you complain about sharing a bunk bed; Not enough food – while you whine about the food on the table because you would rather eat McDonald’s; Living in fear with an on-going war and nowhere to escape to – while you mope around complaining because we have to go to basketball practice or you don’t feel like going outside today, would rather stay in and play video games; Children have to work for a living and are denied schooling – while you complain about homework and school and a whole myriad of other insignificant things that you can only complain about because you have it too easy.”

Yes, this is a great film for teaching kids gratitude.

But of course, the story spoke to me specifically as a woman! To be reminded that there are little girls in the world who will never be given a choice in how they live their lives, who have to pretend to be boys just to be able to go out on the street, who are in danger of being beaten because they have not followed certain rules dictated by men. This touches me deeply.

Many of us live life so freely, we rarely spare a thought for the women who still now, in many parts of the world, have no freedom of choice and are suffering.

We may complain about our politicians being pro- or anti- choice. But that is just ONE choice of so many. These women have NONE.

I speak of teaching our children gratitude, but we should learn this lesson too. Be Grateful…and Help!

One way to help is to purchase the book series because all royalties go to Parvana’s Fund/Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan which supports education projects for Afghan women and children.

The Breadwinner Book series can be purchased at:



The film is available on Netflix, YouTube and Google Play.

I highly recommend this film and the Book Series even more.

Enjoy and Be Inspired!





NYC Marathon Episode 10 (Series Finale): Been there, Done that, And it was totally worth it! :-)

Where do I begin?

thank you.jpg

Thank you for all the words of encouragement through my 6 months of training.

Thanks for all the advice which I actually DID take!!!

Thanks for tracking me and coming out. I feel SO privileged and honored!

And most of all, Thank you SO much for all the donations you sent in for a very real and honest cause.

Funds Raised2     tnt2.jpg

I attended the Blood Cancer Conference on Saturday and saw first-hand where your donations go. I met survivors, patients, healthcare personnel and fellow team mates/fundraisers.

It was a very moving event. One of the top fundraisers, who was also running the race, was in fact a survivor himself and he had an awesome story.

blood conference.jpg

blood conference2blood conference3

  So I thank you!

And Now…..

Finally, today was the magical day that would change my life forever.

I was up at 4am to catch the Team in Training bus from Brooklyn to Staten Island.

Yes, that early even though my start time was not until 11am. But we had to get out there because the roads were to be closed at 7am.

verrazano traffic



Traffic crossing the Verrazano Bridge going to the start

verra arrival

So I spent a few hours relaxing and stretching and chatting. Dunkin Donuts provided bagels, tea, hot chocolate and coffee as well as beanie hats.

And there was all kinds of other stuff as well.

There were SO MANY people!!! From EVERYWHERE in the world! Announcements were made in just about all the main world languages.

As I watched the swarm of people, I just kept thinking…50,000 people out here to enjoy torture. 50,000 crazy people! HAHAHA!!!

Verra people.jpg

verra thumbs up.jpg

If you have ever wondered what the term “New York Strong” means….try running the NYC marathon.

It’s amazing how much goes into this.

The volunteers, the NYPD and FDNY, the medical personnel, the entertainers, the people along the streets, the participants and trainers.

My Goodness!!! It takes a LOT to put this thing on.

As you run through the boros, everyone is cheering you on, and you just want to say thank you so much for doing this and for being here…it’s truly amazing!

It was drizzling the whole time, and yet the streets were full of people getting wet just to be out there to cheer us on.

I did not get to take too many pictures, because I was actually focused on running, so I just took a few of the main important points along the way.

The Start: Crossing the Verrazano Bridge

verra crossing

Half Way Mark

half way

The infamous 59th Street Bridge. This is said to be the hardest part of the race, because it is quiet (no crowds) and it tends to feel long and goes uphill for quite a while. I walked the whole uphill part and then started running again going downhill at the other end. It was not my hardest part of the race, but was definitely my slowest part of the race. 

59 crossing.jpg

The hardest part for me was the last 5 miles, because I just really wanted to get home. I ran and ran and it just didn’t seem to end.

When I saw the 25 mile marker, I started sprinting with all I had left in me so as to finish just as quickly as possible. Although when I saw the video later, I saw that my ‘sprint’ really just looked like a slow walk. 🙂

By 26 miles I was an emotional wreck.

The team had told us to make sure we have a happy ‘hands-in-the-air’ picture perfect finish line crossing for the ideal photo, but I crossed the finish line crying so much that the announcer said “…it looks like Susan can’t quite believe she has done it…” She was right! I couldn’t believe it! I just kept saying “I did it! I did it!” over and over again. I could not get a fancy photo finish anyway, because it was DARK already. All the Grand Stand bleachers were empty. Everyone had gone home. Except for my dear husband and sons. They faithfully stood on the bleachers in the rain waving and calling out to me as I cried my way across the finish line….slowly! LOL. I love you guys!


My official time was 6 hours, 47 minutes, 32 seconds


And Finally, I have to lift up those in whose memory I ran…

We crossed the finish line together and there is no doubt that their ‘Force’ was with me.yoda.jpg

Ursel Olupitan

Wing Commander Isaac Olupitan

Yetunde Olupitan, Esq.

Yetunde Ojeifo nee Olupitan

Ian Tsai

Margaret Holt

Alhaja Yetunde Adegbite

Mary Skousen’s sister

Aaron Ingram

Dawn Bennett

And the countless others whose names I did not get to mention here.

May we continue to fight ceaselessly until Someday IS Today!!!


Thank you for everything and God Bless!


NYC Marathon Episode 9: The End in sight!!!

I can hardly believe that I have come this far.

What started out as one of those “..seemed like a good idea at the time…” actually turned into a real goal that I am now only 6 days away from actually achieving.

My Team Race shirt came in the mail this week and I went to the salon and got my nails colored to match. At least if I collapse I will look good. LOL!

Race shirt

I have my Gu power gel, my running belt and even got a new phone because the battery in my old phone kept dying.

One last visit to the podiatrist tomorrow and two more visits to physical therapy.

Stretching! Drinking! Breathing!

I guess I am ready!

Everyone who has run this race has told me that the adrenaline rush of just being there is enough to fuel you through the race.

I am starting to believe this to be true because I had TWO very exciting moments when running in Central Park again this Sunday.

First of all, nearing Tavern on the Green this time there was a whole new building being put up.

As I got closer, I saw the TCS NYC Marathon logo.

It was the New York City Marathon Pavilion!!!

And right after it, along either side of the road they were setting up the grand stand bleachers for the Finish Line.

HA! So technically, I have already “crossed the finish line”




Suddenly, I was filled with so much excitement, “this is real! This is the NYC Marathon. I, Susan, am running the NYC Marathon!!! OMG!!!”

I was fueled for the next few miles,

…until the heat and the hills started to get to me.

Just as I was starting to decide if I should exit the park and take a nearby bus or subway back, I heard the sweet sound of a solo cello playing a very familiar tune.

The cello was joined by other strings to complete the sound and I was breaking my neck and bumping into fellow runners as I tried to see where this music was coming from.

I never did see them, but the music hit the spot and did its job.

It was the theme music of “Game of Thrones!”


Every drop of Targaryan Dragon blood that I (totally don’t) have within me began to boil and I breathed fire as I rose up to the summit of that blasted hill!!

Yes, that was a really special moment! I think I should totally download that theme for those moments when I need to call on the Dragon Fire. Or could someone organize a string quartet somewhere along the way??

But that was actually not the second moment I was going to mention.

The second exciting moment was when a fellow Team in Training runner (the t-shirts are a dead giveaway) called out to me “Go Team!!”

Yay!!! It made me feel warm and fuzzy all over and boy, was I energized!!

So yeah…I think this is going to be truly exciting and fulfilling.

I remember when I ran my first ever 5K…I crossed the finish line and burst into emotional tears because I had never run “SO far”……That was a 5K!!!

Only Goodness knows what this will feel like.

6 days to go!!!

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NYC Marathon Episode 8: Sometimes Life gets in the Way!!!

Last week was a relatively unproductive running week.

With kids’ activities and work activities, the extent of my running seemed to be limited to ‘running’ errands. Ok, slight exaggeration!

Still, I ran only once during the week, and though I did do my long run on the weekend, it was supposed to be 12 miles and I only got round to doing a very comfortable 7.28 miles.

Needless to say, I have been feeling pretty bummed about this. But I will be making up for it this week :-).

Originally I was going to title this update “Central Park is King” because my 12 miles were supposed to have been a double loop round Central Park with lots of info and pictures. I only made one loop and a bit, but I still got a few cool pictures and info for you, so Enjoy!

Central Park is so cool because it is this huge oasis of green surrounded by such an interesting mix of old and new buildings. This old one below is The San Remo, a luxury co-op apartment building on West 74th street opened in 1930. You could live here and enjoy a clear view of the park for a mere $3 – $75 Million. You cannot miss this beauty in many photographs and films through the ages showing Central Park.

san remo.jpg

An eastward view of the Central Park Reservoir (now called the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir). Notice the fountain in the middle and the more modern buildings in the distance


Row your own boat for just $15 the hour on the Central Park Lake. Rent the boat at the Loeb Boathouse, which is houses a landmark restaurant opened in 1954.

Boat 2Boat 1

You can’t really see it behind the trees, but it’s the very bustling and busy historical “Tavern on the Green”. A restaurant since 1934, it was originally built in 1870 as a Sheepfold, housing the sheep which grazed on the Sheep Meadow right opposite it.


Sheep Meadow…Then and Now

sheep meadow historical

sheep meadow

And you can’t miss the live entertainment that pops up all over the park on a nice warm day, like this Jazz band playing to the steady audience of Daniel Webster himself. (Two time U.S. Secretary of State)

Jazz band.jpg


Awesome stuff – Central Park features the most amazing outcrops of the Manhattan bedrock formed during the Paleozoic era some 450 million years ago.

Rock 1

Rock 2

These outcroppings are at the Harlem Hill, the north of the park.

Rock 3

Yes, it is steep! No, I don’t run it!

See that guy in blue down there?, See how he is just trudging himself up that hill? That would be me if I wasn’t taking this picture 🙂

Rock 4


Have a good weekend!

NYC Marathon Episode 7: The LAST Long Run

Hi Everyone!

A lot has been happening behind the scenes since my last long run (which I did not complete)

I paid a visit to a) my Primary Care Physician – she was delighted with me weight loss, blood work and breathing. “Must be all that running” she concluded.

b) my Podiatrist – Have you ever seen an x-ray of your foot? What a glorious creation! All these little bones, carrying all our body weight every single day. Amazing! All is well, just needed a pad which she made for me right there for under the ball of my foot to protect my second metatarsal which was carrying most of my weight and was hurting as a result.

foot xray

(Note: not my foot)

c) my Physical Therapist – turns out my left knee pain has been because I have not been stretching enough, nor hydrating enough. I am now on a twice a week schedule until race day for intense stretching, PT exercises and deep massage. These guys are awesome. Well worth it!

And so…armed with my foot pad, a set of well-stretched and strengthened muscles and a bigger bottle of Gatorade (on top of a week of drinking, drinking & drinking) I did my long run this week.

And I DID it!!!

Started from home, through Prospect Park, down Flatbush Avenue, over the Manhattan Bridge, up along the East River to 59th Street, Crossed there to Central Park, did the entire Central Park Loop (WITH the treacherous hills) and then out and down 7th Avenue to the 42nd street train station to catch the train back home.

20 Miles!!!!

It took me 5.5 hours, so I am not kidding myself about how long the actual race will take me…but one thing I can now be certain of is that I really CAN do it!!

The only thing I have to figure out now, is how to protect my toes. I had them taped up, but they still hurt.

This was my last long run in training. From now on, we are tapering the distances to build energy for race day in 20 days.

Here are a couple of things to report:

  • Boredom is a thing! This is the honest truth! Running long distances can be really boring. Even with varying podcasts, music, radio or whatever else is playing on those headphones. That is way I keep trying new routes to keep it interesting. I got really bored with the Prospect Park loop and the West Side (Hudson) Greenway. When you are bored, it is VERY easy to talk yourself out of a run. So switch it up!
  • Jealousy is a thing! Yes, it is! Yes, I feel jealous when those young girls go sprinting by me in perfect form and leave me panting in the dust staring after them in their little shorts showing well sculpted buns, hamstrings and calves as they disappear miles ahead of me. Ugh! Hey, at least I am being honest!
  • Hydration Hydration Hydration!! It really is all about hydration! Dried up muscles tire out quickly. This might have been the problem with that last run gone wrong. I have to drink all day every day…not just on race day. The difference is drastic. Two fellow runners chatting with me this week recommended adding salt to my drinking water while running to help retain fluid. I tried this in the first few miles today, and it did work with the fluid retention, but it gave me an instant headache. I guess with my high blood pressure, I am not a good candidate for straight salt. So I switched back to Gatorade.
  • Exercise is SO good for you!! I cannot recommend running highly enough. Or any kind of good exercise. Needless to say, at 20 miles only two words come to mind – ‘tired’ and ‘pain’. But after a good stretch, and a warm shower I feel rejuvenated and energized. It is such a great feeling and well worth every minute of strain.
  • Last but by no means the least, THANK YOU!!! Your feedback and comments are SO inspiring. I truly might have given up a while ago but for your relentless encouragement. Every email I get, every shout out in the hallways, every conversation filled with advice and experience, every wish of good luck, or just asking me how it is going, means so much to me. When I cross that finish line, I will be thinking of and thanking every one of you as you have made this the best experience ever. Thank you!

Here is one example of your encouragement. My very own subway poster. Thank you so much Glenniver S.

subway poster.jpg


20 Miler Photo Blog

 When I started out this morning, it was cool and foggy. There was an actual layer of fog covering the Long Meadow in Prospect Park

Foggy Park1

Foggy Park2.jpg

Next Stop: Manhattan Bridge – Notice the building next to it half engulfed by the fog

Manhattan Bridge

 Manhattan Bridge2

A view of the Brooklyn Bridge and Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park from the Manhattan Bridge – Sorry…it’s a little fuzzy.

 Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan Bridge

 East River Greenway – The fog is beginning to lift 

 East River Greenway.jpg

 Don’t ever let anyone tell you can’t do just about EVERYTHING right here in the City.

This is Stuyvesant Cove along the East River Greenway (Right across from Stuyvesant Town in the mid-twenties) but it might as well be called “Fisherman’s Cove”

I don’t know if I’d want to eat what they are catching, but they are out there with their coolers ready to take dinner home.



 “Still Hunt” the name of the stalking cat on Cat Hill in Central Park (East 75th – East 81st Street) – This is one of the “lesser” hills in Central Park, but it tends to be run towards the end of most races when most runners are nearing exhaustion. This gives Cat Hill and Still Hunt a pretty bad reputation.

Today Still Hunt was approximately my Mile 14 with 6 miles to go. I didn’t feel too bad about seeing him. I was still going strong 🙂

 CP cat.jpg

 Today was also the “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” Walk by the American Cancer Society, so there was a lot of PINK going around in Central Park.

I was pleased to see such a big turn out, and that there were so many survivors, but I was also saddened because this disease is so prevalent and is still claiming so many lives.

The fight must go on!!!

CP cat2.jpg

CP Pink.jpg

Have a great week!



NYC Marathon Episode 6: It’s not over till the fat lady sings

Hi Everyone! Here is a rather delayed report on my running from last week, but first I have to give a huge shout out to YOU all.

Together, we have exceeded my committed fundraising goal and we still have a month to go!!

Funds Raised

Thanks to your amazing support, some families are going to be able to smile in the face of their greatest challenge – cancer!

Last week I actually encountered two real conversations with people directly affected by leukemia: One of them has a family member who has just been diagnosed and the other actually received much needed help and support from LLS when her brother was struggling with the disease for 3 difficult years. He eventually passed on, but I dedicate this race to him as well – Ian Tsai.

This disease is real and the support that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society provides is real too! I feel really proud to be able to play a part in raising funds for this organization and I want to thank you and congratulate you for being a part of this with me.

Now all I have to do is run this race….and finish it!

hudson greenway.jpg

The beginning of the Hudson Greenway (part of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway)                             


Approaching the magnificent George Washington Bridge

My long run this week took me from the top of Manhattan – The A Train to the last stop at 207th Street in Inwood – all the way down along the “Manhattan Waterfront Greenway” down to Battery Park, then across the Brooklyn Bridge to the bus stop on Adams Street to catch the bus home…16 miles!

One thing I can say is that you sure do learn a lot about the city when you run. The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is an actual registered 32 mile running/cycling trail that runs along the waterfront of Manhattan island along the Hudson, East and Harlem Rivers. You can loop the island…who knew?!

little red lighthouse me

I started out really strong, running along the Hudson River to the Little Red Lighthouse which stands right underneath the dauntingly enormous George Washington Bridge. It is beautiful here. Coming off the wooded pathway right to the bottom of the GWB towering over you and then this adorable little light house sits beneath it. Gated and protected by a Park Ranger in a little booth, it is a New York City Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places in New York County. It stands on Jeffrey’s Hook, erected there in 1921 to help prevent Hudson River accidents before the GWB was built and was made famous by the 1942 children’s book “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge” by Hildegarde Swift, so much so that its fame saved it from being demolished when it became obsolete after the bridge was completed.


little red lighthouse

Click on the image above to go to the Amazon.com 

For those of you with young children, the book is available on Amazon.com – reading the story and then showing them the actual lighthouse (which does offer tours) would make for a nice weekend activity.

Anyway, now that I have distracted you with this lovely tale, I have to come back to the story of my 16 miles….which…I did not complete. sad smiley

Unfortunately, somewhere around mile 10, my body began to give in to exhaustion. I rested, I walked, I gave myself every pep talk possible, positive and negative, to no avail.

By mile 13, I could not make myself run any further. I was at Chambers Street and just turned off the greenway and headed for the Brooklyn Bridge Train Station to take the subway home. I had done a total of about 13.5 miles (that’s a teeny bit over a half marathon).

I was so disappointed!! And although I wanted to beat myself up about it, I could not deny that my exhaustion was legit. So to beat myself up would have been pointless. I had not given up…I just really could not go on.

hudson greenway trees.jpgBeautiful Hudson Greenway

hudson greenway mile 6

Still feeling strong at 6 miles

 hudson greenway water.jpg

The last picture I was able to take. Sailing anyone?

As a wise man once said, “the single most important ingredient to any intense physical program is sleep”!! (thanks Ahsan J)

This is so true and I confess I had precious little of it in the days prior and yet I kept pushing myself and running.

Well, a point comes when your body says NO! Non! Nein! Nee! Não! Oti! Mba!

stop  stop2.png stop3.jpg


So I didn’t make the whole 16 miles, but this is not the end!

I have one more month and I WILL continue my training and I WILL complete the Marathon and yes, I WILL get more sleep!!!…like right now….because it is already 11pm.

Good Night and enjoy the rest of your week!


NYC Marathon Episode 5: Down Time :-)

What a Wonderful Week!!!

feet up


This was a “recovery” week, so our running miles were extremely reduced.

In fact my “long” run this week was a Whopping SIX miles!!!


Hahaha!!!…I can’t believe I am laughing at that distance.

Just a couple months ago I would get home from a 3 mile run barely breathing.


Yet here I was, doing my 6 miles easily and smiling at the rising sun.

I have to tell you, it felt good!

I am already wondering what I am going to be doing with myself to keep fit once this is over.

I don’t really think I need to be running 15 miles every weekend but a 6 miler ain’t bad.

So funny how empowered and enthusiastic I sound today. Now back to a normal training week with a long run of 16 miles coming up.

Might not sound so coy next week. wink

Have a great week everyone and THANK YOU!!!!!

NYC Marathon Episode 4: The little Engine that could


 Shout out to Jordan K. What an awesome stash of information!

Ocean ParkwayOcean Parkway towards Coney Island – Pretty! 

McDonald Avenue  Back on McDonald Avenue towards Greenwood – Not so pretty!

This week was rough.

Started the week somewhat under the weather, had a mid-week meet-the-teacher night and a house guest on Thursday & Friday….so didn’t get much training in this week.

AND THEN on Saturday morning, I got the word that my aunt, my father’s youngest sister, had passed away in the early hours…to breast cancer.

I started this race as a dedication to 3 family members…now there is a fourth.

Aunty Yeye

So my 15 mile run on Sunday morning was quite an emotional roller coaster.

I started out fueled with hurt, anger and revenge. By Mile 10, I felt exhausted.

And by Mile 13, as I was struggling up a steep hill in the Greenwood area of Brooklyn, I felt totally discouraged.

This was the first time I really considered giving up.

I was seriously thinking through how I would break the news to all of you after all the support you have given.

“What’s the use anyway?” I asked myself, “I’ll just make it to the nearest bus stop and go back home.”


After the top of the hill at Mile 14, coming downhill and heading to the Mile 15 mark, I felt my strength coming back.

And when it was all done, and I was waiting for the bus ride home, I thought…

Yes, Susan, of course you can do it! and yes, there IS a use.

If it is just in memory of those I love, or if the funds will help to fight and prevent more loss, there IS a use.

So…running on!

run on

Thank you for indulging me! 🙂

Click below to make a donation to LLS




NYC Marathon Episode 3: Back to School – Now the REAL struggle begins

– Donate Here – 

Can I just tell you that you are the best support team a girl could have?

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! – For the donations, the encouragement and great words of advice! I appreciate every little thing!

Shout out to Julie S. for the great conversation about shoes and foot health! Also shout out to Vadim S. for great suggestions about Brooklyn running routes and hill training!

Brooklyn Bridge Sunday Sept 10

(A beautiful Sunday morning run over the Brooklyn Bridge)

Back to School – Now the REAL struggle begins

I just realized that training in the summer months was easy.

I had my own time, I could schedule runs in the morning before work and evenings after work and anytime at weekends as long the kids didn’t have a basketball game.

But now school is back in session and I have to schedule my runs around school, meetings, afterschool programs and homework.

I am just realizing how hard that is. 😦

The other night, I stayed up till midnight baking and decorating a birthday cake, got up at 5am to get the kids to school and still got in a 7 mile run before work.

birthday cake

Um….yes…this was me… tired

Nonetheless, I did a successful 14 miles on Sunday morning from Flatbush, Brooklyn, over the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge, up the West Side along the Hudson River Park running path (so pretty!!) to 72nd Street Subway Station, Manhattan. (and yes, I got on the train and rode home)

OMG, that is only half of the whole distance!!! shocked smiley.jpg

Almost there….53 days to go!



NYC Marathon Episode 2: Body Rebellion

Prospect Park Evening

(Entering Prospect Park, Brooklyn in the Evening)

Invariably the beginning of my run elicits pain and discomfort.

Pain in my left foot reminiscent of the plantar fasciitis I ran with last year; cramping in my toes first in one foot, then the other; aching in my knees; my lungs burning as they get used to taking in more oxygen faster.

This is the time when the temptation to give up is at its strongest. (a second wave of that temptation comes at about mile 10)

But if I just keep going, soon the pains subside and I find a rhythm. And once I am there, I am able to enjoy all the things I appreciate about running.

The sights and sounds in the parks and streets – The trees silhouetted against the evening or morning sky. The drums in the Drummer’s Grove of Prospect Park, the people dancing along.

The other runners in all ages, shapes and sizes; some pushing strollers, others accompanied by loyal four-legged friends.

The playground I used to take my kids to when they were toddlers. I smile at the memory and at the thought that I am teaching them a valuable lesson by running this race.

The families on the grass – relaxing, playing, laughing, eating (not so good when I am hungry)

It warms my heart.

And I am reminded of why I am running, and the people I am running for.

And I am filled with gratitude.

Gratitude that, unlike the many patients fighting to stay alive right now, I can indeed, run!

The body rebellion is squashed! And I keep on running.

12 miles and counting!

62 days to go!

– Donate Here –