In six weeks, the Nike Women Half Marathon will be hitting the streets of Washington DC with 15,000 runners. Runner after runner will cross that start line ready to take on 13.1 miles, each with their own purpose, goal, and personal story. The truth about why someone runs varies from runner to runner. Some run to lose weight. Others run because they love it. Still others run because it is the one thing they can do for themselves.
The truth about my running is not that easy. There are layers in my story, many many layers. But on April 28th, 2013 I will tackle those 13.1 miles around Washington DC, shoes laced, earbuds in their ears, and my sparkle skirt on my hips, in celebration but also in remembrance.
Remembrance that 16 years ago my oncologist described my chemotherapy induced lung damage with the statement that I would never run a marathon. Which of course, I then did…not once, but twice.
Why I am running the Nike Women Half Marathon
I will run the Nike Women Half in celebration….of 14 years of running across many trails, race routes, and even through Cinderella’s castle. Running that was never fast, but that showed progress over time, from my first half marathon in 2 hours and 36 minutes to my fastest 13.1 miles at 2 hours and 15 minutes.
But also? I will run this race as a reminder to myself that a celebration of 15 years of being cancer free cannot be taken for granted. Control of my health was taken away from me the day that I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and I fought an up hill battle to not just survive, but come out stronger. But over the last few years, I have taken my health for granted…gaining weight, and slowly but surely adding increasing risk factors to my long term health.
Last fall, I realized in order for me to call myself a runner again, I had to start over. I forced myself to forget what I knew, and start from scratch. Resetting my running clock was an acknowledgement of where I found myself…heavier, but determined…slower but resilient. Knowing that the ultimate goal was my own inner and outer strength, changed my running. Although I was never fast, I had always been mindful of the clock and my pace, wanting to achieve some goal of time that was always better than the last. And let’s be honest…even if I say that I don’t run with the clock in mind, there are always secret unspoken goals and dreams. Except that now there is one key difference… I don’t beat myself up anymore after a run, for walking or for slowing down. My goals now are to feel stronger with each run. To feel like I pushed myself, and to know that I gave it my all.
The transition to calling myself a runner once again has been slow…but the excitement and enthusiasm to lace up my shoes for this half marathon and others in the future drives me. I know that I am a runner again because although my running goals have changed, the fact that I am always thinking ahead…to future and bigger goal races, has not changed. I have always been the person that trains for one race while thinking about the next one on the horizon. During the runDisney Princess Half Marathon, I thought about the Nike. And during the Nike…well…I will be thinking about tackling a marathon again. Because although I know I have nothing to prove as a runner, the marathon is where I started. (Yes, I am one of those annoying people who start BIG instead of following the natural progression of things). It is where I started…and since I am starting over, seems like the right goal to conquer.
For now though, six weeks and counting to the Nike Women Half Marathon DC. Six weeks until I run through the streets, just miles away from where I sat in the chemo chairs for the first time all those years ago. Six weeks until I create new running memories, and move forward on my journey to take control again of my health.
What about you? What goals are you working on?
ps: In addition to running this race for me, I am also running it to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, an organization that supports patients and caregivers living with blood related cancers….because if we each join together, one day soon, Cancer can be something we only read about in the history books. Join me…big or small, every penny counts.