Austin Marathon – February 15, 2015
What brought me to run for Livestrong was a need to help others, what now keeps me running is a need to help myself. When I say that out loud it sounds a bit narcissistic, but I promise you, it’s not. It’s a self-awareness, it’s making a pact with yourself that no matter what, you just keep moving and keep going. I have come to realize that one of my lessons to be learned is one of patience and acceptance.
I met many old and new friends in Austin. We met for dinner and drinks at Fado’s Irish Pub Friday night. New friendships were made, old friendships were solidified – many of us brought together because of cancer in some way shape or form. Since not all of us were able to meet Friday night, we are all excited to meet up with the rest of the group at the Livestrong headquarters the following day. We laugh, we eat and we are all merry and then call it a night.
LIVESTRONG, LAUGHSTRONG, LOVESTRONG – that’s something I recall seeing at the Livestrong Foundation headquarters on Saturday. I am so grateful and fortunate to have awesome friends who helped me raise over $7,330 for the Livestrong Foundation. It is all of them who I ran for that day, I carried their heartfelt wishes and their love with me and I am forever thankful to each and every one who donated.
When I walked into the Livestrong building, it was simply magical. There is a presence of great things happening, positive vibes and good energy. The motivational and aspirational quotes, seeing the names of those we lost, those we honor, and those who continue to fight is emotional, but it is also so inspiring. Livestrong Foundation does phenomenal things. I know, I used the navigation services and I know because several friends have used the navigation services. What the Livestrong Foundation does is beyond anything that anyone can comprehend. Yes, we all know that Lance Armstrong started this and he’s an arse now, but he started something wonderful and there are many families who are grateful for that.
Anyway, there is quite the brunch spread for us and we dig in. The captain of our team is Bart Yasso, yes, you know the one (Yasso 800’s anyone?), the Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World Magazine, runner extraordinaire. This guy is fantastic! He was so down to earth, so caring and so passionate about running, all types of running – trails, road, ultra’s, 5k, etc. We all had a wonderful time. My friend Sean spoke to the group about his journey and what Livestrong has done for him, my friend Iram spoke about his journey and what Livestrong has done for him. There were a few tears shed, but there was also so much love and respect for everyone. Many of us were brought together as strangers and we all left as lifelong friends. Next up is the Expo and then more food, drinks and laughs. More of my friends arrive and we all meet for a great Texas BBQ for dinner (I don’t recommend this as dinner the night before a marathon BTW).
When I found out I had NHL, I talked with my nephew, a 40+ year old married, father of two, addict, who started running in order to help himself. We “get” one another and I just knew he would run with me! I knew he hadn’t run a marathon, or any race for that matter, nor had he run more than 10-13 miles. This was a way that we could help each other. For months, we kept each other abreast of training plans, runs, nutrition, questions, etc. It was a fabulous journey to the starting line for him and I will never, ever forget his selfless act of training while working through his own issues. To be continued later in the blog :).
Well, it’s now race day and we, a good friend and my nephew and I, head to the starting line. We attempt to get a group picture in front of the Texas capitol building with all my other friends, but there are too many blocked roads that prevent this from happening. We end up seeing other friends we knew at the starting line and are so very pleased we had a chance to see each other before the race.
We are off and the race starts on Congress Street where it seems to be on a trajectory going upward with no downward slope in sight! It’s all good though because I was running with fellow Livestrong teammates and then I was so thankful to run for a mile or two with my friend Sean. Last year at this time, Sean didn’t even know if he would be alive today. Last year, his surgery was scheduled 10 days before the Austin Marathon, so he ran the Austin Marathon route in advance and refused to let cancer steal his joy. He had surgery and faced many months of chemo and radiation and while he may be cancer free today, he is still feeling lasting effects of chemo. Sean has been and will always be a source of inspiration for me, it is Sean who created Team Choose Joy and who has done so much for so many. It is Sean who led our team to raise over $35,000 for the Livestrong Foundation.
I ran with many Livestrong teammates that day and we created bond that will never be broken. When you have any type of cancer, and meet other lovers of life, survivors and fighters, there is a lifelong bond that is created. You can talk about things that those who haven’t gone through it simply won’t understand. I was fortunate enough to run with a fellow teammate from about miles 15 – 26.2. We had the best conversations, those that lifted us up and made us laugh and those that made us realize that we have formed a lifelong bond and we are so thankful.
Fast forward…we are finishing the race. I am running with two other Livestrong teammates. So picture three Livestrong teammates who have ran together for several miles, lifting each other up and bringing each other to the finish line. We crossed the finish line holding hands that are raised high in the sky. We are grateful, joyous, happy and thankful for everything and each other. As I move through the finishing chute I see my nephew and I cried. I cried for him and all that he has been through, I cried that he continued to be selfless and waited over almost an hour to wait for me, I cried for all those we have lost, all the fighters and warriors and for all those that we will lose. I truly learned that yes, I have cancer but it doesn’t have me. For all those I met this weekend who are survivors or fighters, we all agreed that having cancer was a catalyst for a better way to live, laugh, love and run.
There is so much more to say about this race, but I will leave it as is and will never forget the kindness, friendship and love ~ xoxo
Yours in running, health and joy,