Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Top 12 Moments in My Racing for a Cure Memories

As I wrote a month or so ago, this blog is going into at least semi-retirement, but I said that I would write one more post.  Here it is.  I could not close this out without a stroll down memory lane, attempting to pick out my 12 best memories from my nine years of racing for a cure.  I could have picked 50 or even 100, so why just 12?  Well, first, no one would read about 50 things!  But the 12 comes from surviving cancer 12 years as of this past April.  So a dozen fantastic memories seemed appropriate.  They are all great, but I have attempted to rank them in reverse order.

12. Purple Hair and Meeting Julie in Person. On June 26, 2010 in Seattle, Washington, I ran the Seattle Half Marathon.  My goal was to beat 2 hours and 30 minutes, which is slow for a strong runner but a great time for me as a run-walk combination.  And I did it, besting that time by a few moments.  More importantly, I exceeded my fund raising goal and dyed my hair purple to celebrate.  It didn't turn out as purple as I hoped, but it was still cool.  And at the end of the race, I met up with Julie from the "Cure Rocks" blog.  That was really cool to meet a fellow cancer survivor who also did TNT races and blogged about her experiences.  Here we are after running 13.1 miles each, showing off our survivor and "Rock Star" shirts:

11. Completing the Arizona Marathon in a Personal Record to Celebrate Five Years in Remission. My time was about 5:57 and was my PR for a marathon - a pretty good time for having walked all but a couple of miles of it. It was so special because my participation was to celebrate my 5 year remission just a month earlier. At the end, I was greeted by teammates Chuck and Suzanne, who waited for me after finishing their races! Chuck was a new marathoner, finishing like a day ahead of my time and just missing qualifying for Boston, and Suzanne just did her first half marathon. Do we look proud and happy?
On the same day, I learned that teammates Robbie, Theresa, and Paul had completed the Disney Marathon, and teammates Joan-E and Rachel completed the Arizona Marathon with me. All were first time marathoners, and it is great to remember them and their achievements, along with Chuck's and Suzanne's, as I write this.

10.  Cheering at the 2010 Shamrock Half Marathon.  I had a number of friends and teammates running and walking in this race, and four of us - three of us cancer survivors - showed up at the race course and cheered our throats out for hours.  It was a blast.

I need to mention the lady of the right, holding the sign.  Her name is Faith Eury, and she had Hodgkin's lymphoma, the same kind that I had.  It is 80% survivable, but not by Faith.  Less than two years after this photo, Faith was gone at age 43.  She was an inspiring lady.  I met her in person the autumn before when she formed a team, Faith's Hope, for Light the Night and raised over $10,000 for LLS.

9. Being There When My Friend Susan Earned Her Triple Crown! What is the Team in Training "Triple Crown?" It means that you have completed at least one of the three different events that TNT offers: a long-distance foot race, a century bike ride, and a triathlon of any length.  In June of 2009, my friend Susan Glass became the recipient of the "TNT Triple Crown" when she completed her first century triathlon near Asheville, NC.  And the cool thing was, I was there!  I surprised her!  From my motel in Asheville, I emailed her: "I have a big surprise for you the next time that I see you!"  I didn't tell her that the surprise was me being there the next morning to cheer for her on the race course.  And she was really surprised, trust me, because the next time she saw me was the very next day at the start of the ride!  It was great to be there to cheer her off to a great start and to cheer on the course as she zipped by!  I wrote this about her accomplishment.

8. "Crawlin' for Ed." Just two and a half years ago, my friend Ed Stone lost his long fight against cancer.  He was 43 and over half his life had been as a cancer survivor.  Ed inspired so many people during his all too short life.  He was a frequent Team in Training and Light the Night participant.  I've lost count of how many marathons, triathlons and century bike rides he did, and how many tens of thousands of dollars he raised.  He was an athlete, a husband, a son, a brother, a friend, an inspiration, and a brave and determined guy.  A few days after his death, I wrote this in memory of Ed.

Last year, I learned that Team in Training would be participating in the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon in Hampton, VA on Ed's birthday - October 6.  How could I not be a part of that?  Well, I couldn't, so I was!  Ed's widow and two sisters were also in the race.  It was my slowest half marathon of all of my four, but as I say, it is not your time in the race that matters so much as your time at the race.  It was special to run the course and see Ed's family out there cheering for us, and also to see Mary cheering on the race course.  Speaking of Mary....

7. Meeting Mary at the TNT Tent in San Diego. My wife Mary made the trip out with me to San Diego, and we had a great time visiting the World Famous Zoo, the Wild Animal Park, touring downtown San Diego, and trying to learn how to surf. Mary made it out to the TNT finisher tent and it was great to see her after completing my second marathon.

On my visit to San Diego, we also visited the Cancer Survivors Park, which as a four year cancer survivor (at the time) really meant a lot to me.

6. Nashville Mentees and Cheer Leading.  In 2009, after having walked three marathons, I turned to a run-walk combination and took on a half marathon, the Country Music in Nashville, Tennessee.  It was probably my favorite all time event for so many reasons, but especially because we had a team from all over Virginia that just bonded so well.  We had a fabulous coach, Coach Chuck.  I was also a mentor, and three of the people I mentored were in the race, two of them running their very first marathon that day.  Here we are after the race, from left, me, Dave, Kristi, and Nicole.  Dave and Nicole were the first time marathoners, and dyed their hair purple to celebrate.

After each running the race, six of us banded together on the race course near the marathon finish line and cheered for the marathoners for several hours.  It capped a great day and a memorable trip to the Home of Country Music.

5. Crossing my First Marathon Finish Line. Very shortly after memorable moment number four, I became a marathoner, walking 26.2 miles that day at a fast pace. It was perhaps the proudest day of my life – to come back from surviving cancer three years previously and now to complete a marathon.  That whole day, I had to keep pinching myself - I was doing a marathon in Alaska of all places!  When I am 95 and sitting in my rocking chair (or maybe I will be training for a 10k?, or taking a hike) I will still remember that day and smile with joy!

4. The Leukemia Survivor Cheerleader in Alaska. Near mile 25 of the Anchorage Marathon on June 18, 2005, I was soaked, cold, tired. My feet had huge blisters. My legs hurt with each step. Standing in the rain was a lady with a large sign that said “Leukemia Survivor – Thank You.” I will never forget seeing her and what it meant, even as a cancer survivor, to see a fellow survivor out there cheering for us on a cool, rainy day.

3. "60 at 60 for Ann!" - The Komen 3-Day for my Sister, Ann.  Before I had ever gotten involved with Team in Training, I heard a radio commercial for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure.  It was a year after my own cancer experience, and I thought how cool it would be to walk 60 miles in three days to raise money for breast cancer research.  I resolved to do it some day.

That day came in 2011.  It was clear that my sister Ann's four year battle with breast cancer would be coming to an end that year, and most likely before I could do the walk in September, just days before her next birthday.  I would turn 60 that July, and I decided that my campaign would be "60 at 60 for Ann!"  I wanted her to know that I would be walking for her that fall.  Here we are, just a few years before that:
Ann died on Memorial Day that year.  I had severe plantar fasciitis and could only walk a couple of miles.  But by August, it had healed enough for me to tolerate some longer walks, and even though I was never able to walk the recommended training schedule, I was able to do complete the 3-Day in Ann's honor in the Washington DC area.  For the third day, I wore a tee shirt with her photo on it.

It was a bittersweet day - I had accomplished a difficult challenge and fulfilled a goal that I had set about eight years before, but my sister was no longer here to celebrate that with me.  Her star shines on in my mind.

2. Raising $5,000 for my First Event in Only Five Weeks. I blogged before about my apprehension about whether I could raise $5,000 for the Anchorage Marathon in 2005. This was the minimum amount I had to raise, and it seemed like a nearly impossible amount. But I decided I had to try it, and signed up for the Summer Team. People were so generous, and I passed this amount in the first five weeks. I doubled my fundraising goal as a result, and passed that as well, ultimately raising over $11,600. Since then, I have always set my fundraising goal high, and whether I meet it or not, I give it a good run for the money.

And what has to be my favorite memory of my Racing for a Cure Career...

1. Seeing the Little Nashville Girl with Leukemia. If you want to learn about this amazing moment in my life, one I will always remember until I die (unless I get dementia someday, which is kind of the same thing), then go here.  Seeing this little girl in Nashville the day before the Country Music Half Marathon in April, 2009 really touched me, and summed up for me why I kept doing Team in Training over the past years of my life.

Well, that is my little stroll down memory lane of my racing for a cure career to date.  The incredible people I met along the way and the memories that I have from getting out there and doing this will always be with me.

1 comment:

Training Coimbatore said...

great work in fighting against cancer......
keep the good work Going!!