Thursday, April 06, 2017

Lessons from a Runner

I'm not sure if I mentioned it around this corner of the Internet, but I am running the Boston marathon in less than two weeks. This has meant that for the past four months my Saturdays have consisted of a long run, a constant analyization of my splits and hamburgers for dinner. 
Running the Boston Marathon has been a decade long goal. I ran my first marathon (almost on a whim) in San Diego in 2003. On my way down south J and I stopped in Playa Del Rey to visit my cousin Andy. I wanted to meet his new girlfriend, Jen, and I never passed up an opportunity for one of Andy's margaritas on his second-floor patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean (if you crained your neck just right). 
On the patio, soaking in the early June sun, Andy asked if I was going to run Boston if I qualified. I was fairly confident that I would qualify, but pretty sure I wasn't going to be running Boston. "I have plenty of time to do Boston," I claimed. He persisted. I'll fly out and watch you. You'll have a place to stay - and a cheering squad. A few weeks after the marathon I talked to my Uncle, he reminded me - anytime you want to run Boston, we're here. 
Over these fifteen years I have learned many things, but the most important thing I learned is that life is short. Andy and I never got to do another Boston trip. We never got to take our families on a narrowboat trip in England. We never got to go to another Red Sox game together. It's because of this I am running this marathon for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. 
This isn't the first marathon I have run for Andy, but this time I'm not running just for Andy. I'm running for my Uncle, Andy's dad, who passed away (and was also treated at DFCI) from prostate cancer a few short years after Andy. But, during these sixteen weeks I learned that I'm not just running for those two, but I'm running for the high school girl from my childhood church who is battling Luekemia. I'm running for a friend whose two year old daughter fought and victorious emerged from a Wilms Tumor last year. I'm running for the stranger who cried on my shoulder about losing his best friend three years ago after a four year fight with lung cancer. But, the fact that I'm running for others, and not myself isn't the only lesson I've learned through this training process. And so, I present to you twenty lessons I've learned while training for this marathon:  
  • I have learned that, for me, running is how I deal with life. Through running I can turn everything off and meditate. I can think, and many times I cannot think. 
  • I have learned that people are generous. I have met people in my community who have reached out donated generous amounts of time and money to help me reach my goals. 
  • I have learned that training for a marathon takes a community. I am grateful for the grandparents and friends and babysitters that I have utlized to get in all my training runs. 
  • I have learned that a long-distance training partner is just as effective as someone down the street. 
  • I have learned that I enjoy running solo, but I also like running with certain friends and music can really help out a speed workout.  
  • I have learned that Runners DO LOVE Yoga. Stretching is vital to running. And the stillness of yoga is crucial to finding my own centering as a runner. 
  • I have learned that a strong core makes hill repeats seem easier. 
  • I have learned that running gives me a chance to find reflection - reflection in both the big and little things in life. 
  • I have learned that my girls love me uncondionally. I am always greeted with big hugs and lots of kisses the minute I walk into the door after a run. No matter how sweaty and stinky or how long I've been gone. 
  • I have learned that a good massage is worth every penny after a long 21 mile training run. 
  • I have learned that children love gatorade. 
  • I have learned that Andy and my Uncle Bob touched so many people. Their memory is still so strong and for this I am forever grateful. 
  • I have learned that I do not take my health for granted. I have strong legs and full lung capacity. I am thankful for this each and everytime I head out the door for a run.  
  • I have learned that a fun recovery run is to run alongside Daisy while she rides her bike and belt out Britney Spears songs acapella. 
  • I have learned (once again) that J is an amazing partner in life. He holds down the fort every Saturday morning for my training runs and gives me plenty of grace every Saturday evening when my legs ache. 
  • I have learned that Tacos and Wine and a crafting project can be a fun way to spend a Sunday night. 
  • I have learned that while cancer sucks I can choose to celebrate the positives. I love hearing positive outcomes DFCI and other cancer research centers are doing to combat this disease. I love hearing the sweet memories of others who have passed on. Being part of the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge is more emotionally difficult than I expected, but I love being part of something bigger than me. I love being part of a group of people committed to the ultimate finish line: a world without cancer.  
  • I have learned that pizza is a fantastic pre-long-run dinner choice. 
  • I have learned that private funding will make a difference, and through the Barr Program exciting clinical trials are exploring opportunities to use targeted drugs for people with brain cancers. This has the potential to signifcantly improve survival for this devastating type of cancer. 
  • I have learned that 100% of the money I have raised support Barr Program research initiatives. To date, DFMC has raised more than $80 million, and more than 200 innovative scientific investigations have recieved critical funding. 
If you feel called to contribute to the cause follow this link: dollar counts. Thank you.