Crazy to think that in less than 24 hours, we will be out on the race course!  It’s amazing how much effort goes into making such a relatively short period of time meaningful and rewarding.  Think about it..the 16-week commitment…the early Saturday mornings…the steps counted…the stretching and strengthening…the working water stations…the finding time to train during the week…the Gatorade and Fig Newtons…the emails..the paperwork…the deadlines…the pre-race jitters…the friendships…the community.  There’s no secret ingredient… It takes hard work, faith, and an all-in investment from each of you to make tomorrow the amazing achievement it’s going to be!

It’s been an incredible week for our team…

Jennifer Herlihy was once again the superstar at the Transplant Games…. picking up 3 gold medals and a silver!  She probably spent about 35 cumulative minutes racing!  Think about the time and effort that went into that.  She didn’t just walk onto the track and win gold… She prepared for several months and included interval training…on her own…to help build her speed!

We have the Brooks award celebration this evening… I’ve been asked to direct you all to the UW Medicine Facebook page.  They posted both information on the award as well as the video interview with Glenda Roberts.. Please go on and hit the LIKE button… And ask your friends to do the same!

Mike and I went to a meet and greet last night and met many of the coaches (see pictures)  It’s a pretty incredible group to be associated with.  They all are doing great things in their communities–inspiring teenagers, young girls, breast cancer survivors… They all have impressive stories about the work they’ve done and the results they’ve achieved… Not just athletically but also the impact they’ve made on a personal level in the lives of their team members.

I’m very excited to be able to represent our team..because truly this is about our team… It’s not about me… It’s about what each one of you has contributed to making our team what it is today… It’s about the 16-week commitmeant…the early Saturday mornings…the steps counted…the stretching and strengthening…the working water stations…the finding time to train during the week…the Gatorade and Fig Newtons…the emails…the paperwork…the deadlines… the pre-race jitters…the friendships…the community.

As a coach… I’m only as inspiring as my team…I’m pretty darn lucky to have such an inspiring group of people to work with!

Go to the UWMC Team Transplant Facebook page to see interviews with Jennifer Herlihy, Glenda Roberts, Carla Trulson-Essenberg, Jon Baird, Tami Sadusky, Starla Sage, Steve Philips, and Lenard Yen

I think you’ll see what I mean!

Good luck to everyone tomorrow… We have entrants in both the 8k and the half marathon…I look forward cheering you all on!



Wow… 16 weeks ago…16 weeks from then seemed so far away!   But here we are…nearing the 16th week of our fall season!

 A lot has happened since we started…We concluded the warmest summer on record but now have glimpses of snow back on the mountain peaks… we experienced Hurricane Patricia…the most intense hurricane recorded in the Western Hemisphere…and finally the fires in Eastern Washington are out;  the Volkswagen scandal was revealed and some of us are still to find out what this recall will really mean; NASA found water and the potential for life on Mars and The Martian is a big box office hit;  The Royals won the World Series while the Seahawks and Huskies have experienced disappointing football seasons;  We had a pre-kidney transplant recipient win a World Championship medal in track and field…the Russians have been banned from the sport indefinitely for cheating… and while some of our team members are thriving, some have gotten sick or injured and haven’t been able to train with us;  We’ve had fall elections and kicked off the 2016 presidential campaign season with both Republicans and Democrats already debating on TV ..And we’ve had earthquakes, plane crashes, and bombings…and continue to grapple with issues of race, ethnicity, and gender identity.

 A lot can happen in 16 weeks…and so much we have little control over.    However…over the past 16 weeks…I hope your training has helped you feel a little less out of control…given you a place to relieve stress and engage with others when you feel  alone.  Helped you feel stronger and healthier…and maybe even powerful as you realize that what you’re doing…each and every Saturday morning….each and every step during the week … each and every time you don the green apparel…each and every time you help set up a course or work a water station….can and is and does make an impact…Because in this crazy, overwhelming world of our’s…What you’re doing sends a message of hope to others… that transplants work…and transplant recipients can and do lead active, vital lives!

 Go Team!


How many of you have picked up on our new slogan (courtesy of Nancy MacNeill):  “Survive. Thrive. Together.”   We are really trying to make this be not just a saying…but an actual put into practice philosophy.   One way to experience it is to show up to a Saturday morning practice where we can provide you with the gift of training partners—people who are going through what you’re going through and who are going to support your healthy lifestyle and back you up when you decide to go after a big goal!  They can make all the difference in the world.   Having someone to share the long, lonely journey of a distance runner or walker makes the commitment so much easier…pleasant…bearable?   And more importantly, the depth of friendships you can build during a 2-3 hour workout can be incredibly strong and powerful.…You can go through all kinds of emotional cycles (“ugh…it was so hard to get out of bed”…”I don’t want to do this”…”Oh Wow!  There is something to the endorphin high…I just can’t stop talking!”  “Omigosh!  We’re going to make it!”) and physical experiences (porta potty stops, leg cramps, sore feet…and “Boy!I feel good today…hope you can keep up!”  And…”Good grief!  Wish I was feeling as good this morning!”!”) during that time.  Who else is going to understand…let alone put up with it?!

We had a great example of this last Saturday…As I was standing under the canopy before practice,  Steve Philips asked me, “Alysun…am I beginning runner or an intermediate walker?”   I said…”Well you must be a beginning runner since there is no intermediate walker training schedule..”    To which he responded, “…yes…but I really need someone to train with me if I’m going to maintain running.”

Three miles later, he stood  at the water station…sweating, out of breath, huge grin on his face…He had teamed up with Susan Isoshima who was keeping him on a very disciplined run-walk pace.  It was clear that the 3 miles had been a challenge, but it was also clear that he had enjoyed every minute…and every step…of it…so much so that he did not hesitate to follow Susan when she headed out for another loop around Seward Park!

If you’re looking for the gift of a training partner,  come out on Saturday morning…the more of you who show up…the more likely it is that there will be people to train with!  And for those who’ve turned in paperwork, take advantage of Team Snap…it’s another way we’re trying to make “Survive. Thrive. Together” a reality.   We’re hoping you can use it  to connect with other Team Transplanters when you can’t make it to practice or just want some company during your midweek training.

greenlake_lastpracticeAnd inspiring stories from last season:

Amazing how quickly this season is wrapping up….just as the summer track season is kicking into high gear with the World Championships set to take place in Beijing in August …

For the first time ever, we had 2 high-schoolers in the same year break 4:00 for the boy’s mile—ironically they both ran 3:59.38 in separate races;  Alexa Efraimson, from Camas, Washington, just set a new US high school record for 1500m by running 4:03.39 at the Prefontaine Classic; and  Jennie Simpson of the US ran a World Leading 3:59.31 for 1500m in Rome yesterday…..all of this amidst the very sad allegations of performance-enhancing drug use among members of the  Nike Oregon Project , a team of elite runners coached by former marathon great, Alberto Salazar…

And then…we have Team Transplant about to make its 7th appearance in the Seattle Rock’n Roll Half Marathon!  Now to be quite honest (I hope this doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone)… it’s unlikely that  we will have anyone breaking the 4 minute mile…or setting a national record…or becoming a world leader…though I am pretty sure we could get therapeutic use exemptions for any medications our team members are on!    So why do I bring this all up?   Well…as you all know…I was just at the Kansas State High School track meet to be inducted into the KSHSAA Hall of Fame…quite an experience to go back 30-some years later.

The ceremony took place following the boys’ high school miles, and as I stood there on the infield of the track waiting for it all to begin…young athletes whizzing all around me…I realized that my idea of what it would probably look like for me to make it into the hall of fame when I was a teenager was much different than what actually transpired…

I didn’t ever run a world-leading time or make it to the World Championships or break a national record…fortunately…and this probably helps my hall of fame case…PED use was never a consideration!  Looking back…a lot of what made my journey what it was…was working with all of you.
When I finally stepped up and took my place on the podium to accept my award, Gary Musselman, the Executive Director for the KSHSAA, handed me my plaque and as we held it together, the photographer’s camera flashing in our faces and someone reading about me over the PA system, he said, “Okay…just stand here and smile with me for what’s going to seem like forever.”  And then through his grin, teeth still clenched, he said, “The work you’re doing with your team is really great.  It’s nice to see how you’ve used your running experiences to create a program to help your patients.”

And so it goes…even without the high profile athletic accolades you can still make it into the hall of fame…I’m not saying this as a concession.  I’m saying it because the fast times and wins only take you so far.  I’m saying it because the very small role I’ve played in each of your lives and the incredible effort you’ve all put in to making our team what it is…is what is more worthy of recognition.  I’m saying it because getting into a hall of fame should require going over and above…and our team has so many incredible examples of this…over and over again…year after year.  I’m saying it because it’s easy to lose sight of how significant our accomplishments have been…but for others across the country it is obvious…and it is significant.

It’s a big deal to train and finish a half marathon…and an even bigger deal when you’re doing it for the reasons so many of you are…a second chance at life; a chance to gain control of your health on your own terms; an opportunity to support a loved one or a cause that you believe in…  Whatever your reason…what you’re doing really is important and most worthy of hall of fame recognition.








Coach Alysun Deckert and our newest members bring out the best in Team Transplant!

It’s been quite a season so far…We’ve had beautiful weather, incredible
turnouts for practices, and a lot of really great energy and enthusiasm!
We’re working on plans to refresh our website;  looking into new apparel
options; and our Facebook page is alive and vibrant—We’ve got 196 “likes”
and our “post reach” was 767 this week! (no clue what that means, but it’s a
big number:-)…and we like those!)
We had a couple of new transplant recipients join us last week…Welcome to
Colleen Jacola, who is 38 (that’s right…you read it correctly…THIRTY–EIGHT…
another big number that we like)  years out from kidney transplant…and Jean
Lenning…who is less than year out from her liver transplant (we like small
numbers too!)…and welcome back to  Alvin Valencia, one of our kidney
transplants, who returned after a pretty exciting year off that included
getting married!
Steve Zieniewicz, UWMC CEO, gave a fabulous pep-talk to kick off our season…
He told us the story of Roger Bannister, the first person to run under 4:00
for the mile back in 1954.  As a young physician in training, Bannister had
several failed attempts before finally succeeding at  his goal.  It was
when he decided to make his attempt a team effort, calling on 2 friends to
help, that he finally realized his dream.  The friends, and training
partners, helped with pacing, drafting, and emotional support…And while the
4-minute mile had long been thought of as an impossibility, Roger
Bannister’s stunning 3:59.4 opened a flood gate…24 men broke the 4 minute
barrier that following  year!
So looking forward to our season…what mental barriers are holding you back?
The idea that someone who has liver disease, kidney failure, a heart
transplant, a lung transplant, works full time, has a family, is a busy
physician, doesn’t look like a runner, or has never run before can’t run or
walk a half marathon?  Team Transplant’s got a few people who can show you
that these notions are simply not true…and we have team members who will be
more than willing to be your support, your training partner, and your source
of accountability so that you can do it too!
Go Team!


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