I think I will start a blog. It has been a very long time since I’ve done any kind of writing – even at work I am struggling to write a simple proposal. Everything seems to be boiler plate these days without much creativity. Recently I have been inspired by other triathletes’ blogs and their creative flare and personal testimonies. So……I think I will start a blog. I think it might help me write more easily at work and ANYTHING that can combine training and my job is a big plus in the time management category. In fact, I think that is what I will focus on here – not just training for my first Ironman, but how my life as a triathlete weaves into my everyday LIFE. There is a reason that we all talk about finish lines and climbing mountains and pacing ourselves and running our own race and focusing on the present as metaphors to life; because they are.
I’ve always wanted to do an Ironman for as long as I can remember. I don’t know when exactly it started – probably watching Kona on television the same way it started for many of us. I do know this however; it started when I was much younger and much lighter than I was when I finally got down to business! I was a swimmer in high school and college and weighed 125 pounds. I was a couch potato and 232 pounds on May 21, 2010 when I decided to work toward attempting my first triathlon – Iron Girl Syracuse; 600 yd swim, 18 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. I wasn’t worried about the swim. I hadn’t been on a bike in years (didn’t even own one!) and clips and hills scared the *#$(! out of me (more on that in a “conquering fears” entry.) Running – well I used to run some. Like I said, I was younger and lighter. Now I’m heavier and slower! And when I say I am a slow runner I don’t mean it like some others mean it; you know the ones who run a 10 and 11 and 12 minute mile. (Like the people who say they're broke but have 10K in the saving account?!) I am SLOW – most people can walk faster than I could run! I gave myself until June 30 to work up to three miles. If I could do that, I would do Iron Girl. I did, and I did…my run was 38 minutes 13+ minute miles. I had no organized training plan, I just swam and biked and ran. But I finished and I was hooked!
The very day I decided that I needed a new goal to keep going a TNT flyer came in the mail. I signed up for Disney thinking I would do the half marathon. That changed to a full marathon sometime in October. This was about my father, this was about LIFE. Here is a reprint of the fundraising letter I wrote in September of 2010 – it will give you the whole story.
Dear Friends and Family,
Seven years ago this week I ran my first “Team in Training” run with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS.) My aspiration was to run the Disney Marathon in January 2003 while supporting the LLS. At the time, it was far more about my running goals than it was about cancer - but I was happy to help them while they helped me. That was the only run I was able to accomplish. I dropped out the next week and instead of spending my weekends running, I spent them with my dad. He would die from colon cancer, as it turned out, the week after the Disney Marathon.
I stopped running altogether after my father died. But today, once again, I ran my first training run with “Team in Training” with my sights on Disney in January. This time it is about much more than my running goals. I could spout a lot of statistics about all the great things that LLS does, but for me this challenge is about my father’s wish. It was the day we were discussing his obituary (not something you forget) and we got to the part about sending gifts in lieu of flowers. I suggested the obvious organizations– Hospice, the Cancer Society, etc. He said I could decide. Later that night he called me into the living room. There was a story on TV about children who were suffering from cancer. He said “there – that’s where I want the gifts to go; no child should ever have to go through this.”
Leukemia causes more deaths than any other cancer among children under the age of 20. So, in memory of my father and in honor of the children in Central New York who are fighting, I am asking you to join me in helping them to win their fight……..
Please help me make my father’s wish come true for as many children as we can.
With Much Gratitude,
That marathon was the hardest thing I had even done. It took me all seven hours to finish (more about that in another entry.) But in the end I finally understood the connection to LIFE. I will leave you with the small note I wrote on facebook about a week after the experience.
The Finish Line.....There is a silence that comes after and is hard to explain to those who were not there. You feel separated from everyone around you having lived an experience that others can’t possibility understand. It must be similar to the way cancer patients feel – chemo and radiation tearing them down to the point where they think that they have absolutely nothing left to take the next step. I’d like to say it was an easy run, an enjoyable run, or even a rewarding run, but it was not. It was a test, it was painful, it was hard beyond my wildest dreams and I wanted to give up so many times. But the reality is that when I crossed the finish line I was done. The cancer patient has to endure, has to run again, and again and again before their finish line. I did not understand the connection between endurance sports and raising money for cancer before my run. But now I understand that there are no truer words than
“There is no finish line until there is a cure.”