A Beautiful World

September 7, 2009

The Long Stupid Race

I am a runner. A dedicated one. I’m not marathon status, but you know, I do my fair share of 5K’s, have a PR, and try and maintain 15 miles a week. The middle aged mom, who has discovered a power within. I’ve been living this lifestyle for the past 4 years or so. And, well, got pretty hooked on the concept. I have a running buddy, we meet once a week to pound the pavement. We do races together and sometimes invite other moms to come with us. We go to lunch after the races, or shopping. We think we are road warriors but certainly know our place in the pecking order. Kenyans we are not. We just keep our feet trucking down the long black road.
Last year I got a bit bored and decided I would start training for my first spring tri. No real time in mind, just a new challenge. A new power within me stirred!
So, I'm doing my thing, getting up and training for this tri at 5 am at the pool, I talk my faithful running buddy to come with me at 5 am and we joke about how absolutely strong we are to be such amazing athletes to get up at 5am to swim. Who else but major athletes would do this? We run still, during our swim days and occasionally get on the bike.
I am running this course and it is a straight road, no speed work, no hills, no long distance training because it's only a sprint triathlon (no biggie really, just another small challenge) and then: slam, bam, thank you mammo- I'm diagnosed! With Cancer! WHAT? Friday the 13th of February.
Screech in the road. What? How is this going to effect my tri? It is monumental but all I could think of is; I will still run this tri! I have worked too hard to stop now. Are you kidding me? Is this a joke? I must run in this race. I did not realize, I was about to run a different race.
So, now the road I've been running on is filled with rocks, hills, mountains even, pouring rain, waves, wind and blisters are on my feet, so it is hard to walk much less run. But, I run because a monster is chasing me.  Just when I think I am at the finish line, I am not; almost, but there is more to this run than meets the eye.  It's the stupid race, you know the one. The race that folks run in the desert for 3 days straight in 120 degree temps!  All I signed up for, was the 5K!!!!
Cancer! No one tells me, breast cancer causes one to go through so many various types of surgeries and strange procedures that it honestly hurts to run. The one thing on the planet that I have been dedicated about and helps the stress, puts too much pressure on my pecs and I can’t run! So, I walk! UGH!!!! WALK! It doesn’t help the endorphin issue much but I try and stay consistent and even keep my running log up to date with my milage from walking. My running buddy, lies and tells me she loves walking with me once a week instead of our runs because we can actually talk to each other. (she runs after or before our walks and is just being supportive and beautiful, I know she hates walking as much as I do).
So, I missed my first tri and I cried, no wailed, when I cancelled it because I was so ready for it and had been training so hard for it!!! The tri was to be the day before my 44th birthday and was 4-4-09. How could the numbers be more lucky? Instead, my bi lateral mastectomy was scheduled for, Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2009, another lucky day but not in the same way. I couldn’t bring myself to cancel the tri until March, I cried so hard on the phone with the race director that the poor woman gave me a full refund. That’s not the policy and I certainly didn’t expect that, but I think I made her feel so sorry for me, so helpless. This poor middle aged woman on the phone blubbering about breast cancer and all that training and all that getting up at 5 am and all that running. For what?
Little did I know, I had signed up for the larger, stupid race and one I will eventually get to the finish line of, with a cheering group of women and amazingly supportive men waving flags and chanting my name, but it's long and hard and I have blisters and it hurts!

My last reconstructive surgery was August 28th and I am cleared to run soon. I will and I am really hoping to do that same tri and it’s not listed yet but if I am lucky it will be another lucky date for my 45th birthday. I had no idea that running would stir such a power within but I’ve got it and can’t wait to start hitting the road, which now is paved for me in pink.

Me finishing my first tri- The Smithfield tri-I had lots of friends to support me.  It was a beautiful feeling, to cross the finish line.

Me with my youngest son, finishing my second tri-in White Lake, NC.