Last Saturday my alarm went off at 4:30am. All I wanted to do was throw my phone across my room, flush it down the toilet, start it on fire, or run it over with a truck, and go back to sleep. I sat in bed for a good 5minutes having an internal battle with myself. “You HAVE to get up. You need to run 16 miles, like NOW, before it gets unbearably hot out.” / “But you have to fly a reeaeally rough trip, maybe you can wait and do the run on a day that you have off.” / “I really can’t get behind with this training run, it’s very important!” / “Yeah, but so is not being ridiculously tired on a work trip.” Eventually I got up, got dressed, ate breakfast, tied up my running shoes, and headed out the door. The entire drive to the familiar forest preserve was a negative internal battle. I didn’t want to run because I was tired. I have been receiving weekly injections due to some really low blood test levels and my body has been fatigued and in a lot of pain. Normal exercise routines have become temporarily challenging. It was also hot and humid. I was running by myself. Then I thought of my ‘Fly Sister’. @dycelovesu
This is my 4th year training and fundraising for ‘The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program.’ I train with a team for an entire season and in return, fundraise for LLS. Back in 2011, I had no real connection to blood cancer. Throughout the years. I’ve met many survivors, or what we call our “honored heros”. It is a charity that I truly believe in. This year I thought that running, fundraising, and flying would be too much. When training season started, I wished my teammates good luck, and told them that I would be there on marathon day to cheer them on.
A few months later, I found out that my fly sister was diagnosed with cancer, only just a few weeks after earning her wings with my carrier. Not only did she receive this awful, out-of-the-blue news, but she also found out she was pregnant with twins. She continued to fly as long as her doctors allowed her while in treatment. None of her passengers or crewmates knew what she was going through, and if they did, would they care? Several months into her pregnancy, she had a balloon release. Her babies had stopped growing. Her cancer was getting stronger. She could no longer fly. The day I found out, I called my fundraising manager. “Are there any spots left for the marathon? I need to fundraise. I need to do something. I will run this whole world if I have to!”
When I stepped foot on the path this past Saturday, I took a deep breath.
The first mile is for my fly sister.The second mile is for my running coach currently battling breast cancer.The third mile is for my first marathon running buddy who lost her dad to blood cancer.The fourth mile is for my teammate who beat blood cancer in college.The fifth mile is for my grandma who beast breast cancer…”
I went through Miles 1-16 in my head. I had an “honored hero” for every. single. mile. It was hot. It was difficult. I cried a few times. I also fist pumped the air at every mile marker as a mini celebration. I yelled “THIS SUUUUUCKS!!” at the the top of my lungs while running uphill (which made a few other runners and cyclists on the path chuckle). At mile 12, when I started to become over heated and mentally worn out, I started to double up my honored hero’s for different reasons;
This mile is for my best friend who is a single mom and probably couldn’t afford to donate, but did anyway.
The next mile is for the complete stranger who I have never met, but donated anyway…
Before I knew it, I was just 3 miles away from where I began. Ironically, I saw an old teammate walking on the path who had a valve replacement several months prior– an honored hero. I saw a man older than my grandfather, running slower than a snail, but running none-the-less— another honored hero. I saw a woman and her husband, both looking physically and mentally exhausted, running with their week old newborn in a running stroller, holding hands.– A pair of honored heros. We all have so many reasons (or excuses, depending on your perspective) not to be active, not to take care of our bodies. Yet I was surrounded by people who took that concept, rolled it up into a crinkled ball, and stomped on it. I turned up my I-pod and focused in on the song that was playing; Eminem’s “Survival of the Fittest”– “Picture me quitting. Draw a circle around it and put a line through it.” I took a deep breath, thought of my fly sister, got out a few more tears and powered through to the end. Because I have said it before and I will say it again.
If you are interested in following my marathon story more closely or you are interested in donating to LLS to fund research and patient support, please check out my fundraising page: http://pages.teamintraining.org/il/chicago14/jaxrace