A month ago, I freaked. "There's no way I can run the whole marathon."
"Me neither!" exclaimed my nervous husband.
"Well, I guess instead of freaking out that we can't run the whole thing, let's just plan on walking half and see how we feel."
Fast forward to Saturday June 3rd. I'm feeling good. I know I didn't get nearly enough training in. Yet here we are boarding the Amtrak at Union Station to be part of this awesome marathon we did in 2004. (Which by the way, I still didn't feel prepared for, yet somehow still managed to finish.)
At the Irvine station, my best friend Michelle boarded our train. "Are you guys ready to do this thing?" She said with a nervous chuckle.
"We're just going to plan on walking half and see how we feel" I said. We all sighed a little relief.
We exited the train in San Diego, checked-in to our hotel, and headed to the convention center to get our race bib and all the wonderful free junk the runner's expo had to offer. But before we went in, Michelle tried to call her sister Julie, who had been playing phone tag with her all morning but really needed to talk to Michelle. Julie was in Target (up in Washington where she lives), and needed to call back in two minutes after she left the check out stand, so we waited.
Michelle, who has been my best friend for 23 (yikes) years and tells me EVERYTHING, usually with several phone calls or text messages a day, shared for the first time in that two minute wait, that her sister had some weird lump in her breast that she found a few weeks ago, "but the doctor thinks its nothing. She's currently breast feeding her 6 month old baby and they think its related to that."
Julie called back, and asked Michelle where she was. She explained that we were outside the convention center in San Diego waiting to go register for our marathon. I decided to call Nolan at home and see how he was while Michelle talked to Julie. Before I even said hello, Michelle smacked me on the arm, crying, and told me that her 40 year old sister has breast cancer.
Even as I write this, I still feel like I'm in shock. The reason I met Michelle is because my brother was friends with Julie. We're too young for this. But it's happening.
Michelle got off the phone. She couldn't even remember exactly what her sister said. "She has something something stage 3 carcinoma" was all she could say.
I recently heard that every three minutes someone is diagnosed with breast cancer. I didn't think in the three minutes of waiting outside the convention center I would hear those words.
Julie is a very optimistic person. She's said that she's ready to start her treatment and ready to tell her 3 year old daughter what her mom is about to go through. So Michelle told her our next race will be for breast cancer.
Saturday night I tried to fall asleep early. I knew we needed to get up at 3:45 am, but all I kept thinking about was my doctor visit two months ago where he said I needed to get a mammogram because I need to do it earlier than 40, as people are getting cancer earlier than usual these days. I've never had a mammogram. The actual test doesn't scare me. Finding something wrong does. I swear I'll call tomorrow.
5 am Sunday morning: We stood in line and waited for our friend Andy Gump. I didn't feel nearly as nervous to do this as I did two years ago. Mostly because we did half instead of the whole thing. But partly . . . who am I kidding . . . it's because we didn't have to stress about doing the whole 26.2 miles. We lined up for the start and headed out with all 100,000 participants. Of course, we were at the back, in that area where you submit your estimated finish time to be somewhere between dawn and dusk. As we shuffled forward, covered in a trash bag toga for warmth, we finally crossed the start line 15 minutes after the gun went off.
I was really excited to do this. I didn't have to stress about finishing 26.2 miles. I only had to focus on 13.1 miles. I can do this. I can do this! We spent the first couple of miles warming up (mostly our legs, but also wanting to feel comfortable before we ripped off the Hefty bag toga.) All three of us felt really good. We did some jogging, walking, encouraging others, and had a really good time. I thought about Kris, who wasn't able to be at the finish line this year because her family planned a reunion in Lake Tahoe. I didn't care that we couldn't finish 26.2 miles. With your help, we raised over $9,000 for this cause (the entire Team in Training group raised $12.5 million for Leukemia research) but this wasn't about us. This was about Kris, and everyone else who has been affected by blood cancers, and everyone who supported our efforts to raise money and awareness for them.
We had a great time and finished in 3 hours and 15 minutes. I know for the serious time keepers, that isn't a great finishing time. The guy that finished the half marathon first did it in an hour and twenty-four minutes. Crazy. It was and never has been about our finishing time. It has always been about the journey. It was worth every minute it took to get to that finish line.
When we got home, I called Kris to tell her how we did. She was so happy Team in Training raised so much money for Leukemia and Lymphoma research. She was also happy to tell me that Team in Training was doing their 100 mile bike ride around Lake Tahoe the same time she was there, so she got to see that. We had no idea that ride was happening at the same time as the marathon we were doing so far away in San Diego, and we agreed that even though we were so far apart, we were definitely connected in this great cause.
On our train ride home, Wil and I talked about the next race. It will definitely be for breast cancer research. We got to thinking about the different races we have done and the donations we have raised over the last four years. Between the Avon 3 day in 2002, the marathon two years ago and last weekend, the Susan Komen 5K at the Rose Bowl, and the 10 grand Wil won for City of Hope a few months ago in the World Poker Tour Invitational, we have raised a little over $65,000 for cancer research. We never could have done it without the help of the readers here an at WWdN. Thank you so much for helping us reach that goal. I know we all made a difference.
Next up, breast cancer run!! And for fuck's sake, go get a mammogram. I'm going to!
Note from Wil: The original "Comments from the Wife" posts are: 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 4.0. (Yeah, we just went for an entirely new version after 3.7, because we, uh, found a new version of the working-it-out software in the CVS and decided to, uh, recompile the . . . uhm . . . unit. Yeah.) and Comments From the Wife: In Exile.