When I look back.....
I can't really remember what life was like before I was married.
I can't really remember what life was like before I had children.
I can't really remember what life was like before I became a runner.
I can't really remember what life was like before I Relayed.
It's funny how all of these share a common theme. Each individual link in this chain is a life changing event. It's crazy how one event changes the path of life and opens the door to new possibilities and discoveries. In all cases, for me, each link has steered me down a course of fulfillment and purpose. Marriage, children, running, Relaying. I know "running" seems like a silly thing to put on this list and when compared to the others it seems minor. It's not. Here's why.....
I started running in 2006. I quickly became addicted, obsessed and all the other things my wife says. I started running 5k's, 10k's and even a 1/2 marathon in that first year. I LOVED placing in my age group or in the overall top 3. The medals, trophies and looking for that next personal best became my reason to run. My purpose to run. This worked for me. I progressively got better and learned to enjoy the long, hard hours of training. I lost some weight along the way and felt better than I had in many years. I was a runner.
I continued running and racing, finding myself at the finish line of marathons and ultra-marathons over the next few years. I was collecting finisher medals, age group awards, medals and celebrating my accomplishments. Then my dad was diagnosed with cancer one day in December. The next day we were in St. Louis preparing for major surgery. The surgeons removed 1/3 of his esophagus before we fully understood what happened. My head was spinning and running seemed to help gather my thoughts over the next month or two.
I ran to clear my head, to think of new questions to ask the doctors, to try and digest all the information and accept the changes and battles ahead. This was helping, my dad was slowly coming around, his future looked promising and life was starting to look "normal" again. I continued running for myself. For my purpose. One day in March, I talked to my mom. Cancer. Colorectal. Many hours of life saving and life changing surgery to remove the cancer followed by chemo and radiation treatments came quickly. I ran a lot of miles through her small Kansas town during this period while gathering my thoughts, crying and deciding on a new purpose.
I decided that I should, could and would dedicate my running to a new purpose. The medals, trophies and glory of a new personal best are no longer my purpose. I have only run in three races this year. Three. But I have helped raise almost $5,000 to Fight Back. This disease will not win . There are too many people dedicated to making sure that we will one day live in world without cancer. I believe this can happen. I believe this will happen. I will do my part to make sure this does happen. One day our kids will "look back" and struggle to remember a time when cancer was a problem.
Our little community here in Ozark County, MO bands together each year for the Relay for Life. All I knew about this event was that a bunch of people raised money by selling items such as food, crafts and clothing. They also walked on the high school track for some reason. I had participated in a few of the local 5k's but I was after the bling and didn't understand (or, to be honest, care) about the what or why behind it. Thankfully, the people involved are highly dedicated and are very happy to help somebody like me to learn. They have taken me under their wings and shown me how amazing people are and what it really means to Relay. This year BOTH my mom and dad will make the trip and walk the survivor lap.
We have all lost friends and loved ones. We all know somebody that has family members fighting the battle. This week I will celebrate my 40th birthday as a pallbearer at a funeral for a friend's mother who lost the battle. He and his sister are lifelong friends and considered family to me. They also lost their dad less than two years ago to cancer. How is this right? Cancer is evil and we must stand together and FIGHT BACK!!
In 2010 I ran all night on the track for the first time and logged 54 miles. Last year, while wearing that stupid pink tutu, I logged 53 miles. This year, on June 15th, I am looking for 60 miles. Not for me. Not for the bling. For you. For our parents. For our children. For a purpose. I'm again asking for sponsorship of $10 per mile. That's $2.50 per lap. UNLESS you want to see me in that stupid pink tutu again. My dignity and self respect goes for $25 per mile. ($6.25 per lap for the math whizzes out there)
If you want to donate online you can do so by clicking one the links below.......
Relay for Life
Relay For Life is a life-changing event that brings together more than 3.5 million people
every year to …
Celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer. The strength of survivors inspires
others to continue to fight.
Remember loved ones lost to the disease. At Relay, people who have walked alongside
those battling cancer can grieve and find healing.
Fight Back. We Relay because we have been touched by cancer and desperately want to
put an end to the disease. Make a commitment to save lives by taking up the fight.