More than just a half
This week I started training for my 7th half marathon.I started running a little over 4 years ago and I've logged hours of trail time, several 5Ks, 10ks, an obstacle course race and my beloved Spartan race. About 98% of the time, I run outdoors so I've had the privilege of running during rain, ice and snow storms, at the beach, in the mountains and just about everything in between. Most of the time I run alone, but I've also had the support of some amazing friends who were by my side during the races I ran during chemo. I will never forget that. Despite what my body was telling me to do, my mind said "KEEP RUNNING" and my angels were by my side to make sure I was able to do just that. At the time, I didn't think completing a half marathon and a 10K during my last two weeks of chemo was that significant. I just knew it was something I had to do. When I completed my Spartan race 4 weeks after chemo and 5 days before my surgery, again I didn't think it was that big of a deal. Looking back, I'm so proud of myself! It was kind of crazy and unbelievable that I had the strength physically and mentally to do these things! At the time, though, it just felt like survival. A way to remain true to myself and not let cancer steal this too. Running during cancer treatment was both therapy time for me as well as an escape. I listened to my music, I cried, I ran fast and sometimes I ran slow. I did what I could and used it as a time for me to let out my emotions and deal with what life had thrown at me. Thank you running.
To be quite honest, I thank my hours on the trail for not only getting me through my cancer battle, but for preparing me for it. For me, running 13 miles takes a lot of work. It takes a physical toll on my body, not to mention a mental one. Physically I've had blisters, a strained I.T. band once or twice, a twisted ankle, sore legs, as well as, cuts and bruises from when I've completely stumbled on ice or my own two feet...sadly that's happened! Mentally I've wanted to give up so many times. I hurt, It was cold. It was hot. I just wanted to be done. Despite having so many reasons to quit, I never have. I first started to run to change my body. Unexpectedly, now I run because of how it changed my mind. I know that I can accomplish things that I once thought were impossible. I know that it can get really damn hard, but I am tougher and can get through it. I know that as long as I believe it, I can do it. I will cross the finish line if that's what my heart desires. Maybe not always in the perfect time or with the splits I had hoped for, but nonetheless, I will do it. Oh such is life! I remember my first MRI and how it challenged me. I absolutely hated being in that "tomb". It was scary and uncomfortable and I felt completely claustrophobic . I knew my doctors needed it done, so I put on my music and endured it. I remember at one point talking to myself (I think out loud..) that "we are at mile 10. Mile 10 sucks....but keep going!!" My running has trained me to know that you will , more than likely, hit a rough patch, but if you stay the course you will get through it and it will feel glorious at the end. It may seem silly, but I usually get teary at the starting line, not the finish. Stepping up to the starting line means I've worked and trained when it would have been easier to go back to bed. It means I believe in myself more than I believe the voice in my head that says this is impossible. So I begin this training with some obstacles. My body is different. My mind is different and I need to regain some of the muscle tone that I lost after having to take a giant step back from my workouts post surgery. Even with all of this, I have the strange feeling that this might be the best 13.1 I've ever complete!. This year I'm just incredibly grateful that I'm here. I'm happy to be alive and anxious to feel the tears of gratitude at the starting line and the glorious self satisfaction at the finish line. Thank you running for teaching me to believe in myself, for clearing away the cobwebs in my head like nothing else can and for being a lifeline back to myself. I am forever grateful. -M