On Monday, I finally laced up my running shoes and went for a jog with my sister – the first time I’ve run since mid-March. It was a a semi-short run, around 3 miles, but about as far as my running legs can carry me at the moment. It felt good most of the time, but the next day my newly-used muscles let me know that I have some work to do.
Back in February, my brother Matt and I signed up for the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington DC at the end of October. At the time, my dream was to spend the summer training and possibly run fast enough to qualify for Boston in October, which would mean running a 3:10 marathon. Obviously, that goal got derailed pretty quickly. BUT, I’m still planning on running (maybe walking) and finishing it this year, cancer be damned, no matter how long it takes me. I know what it takes to train for marathon, and maybe more importantly, what it’s like to try and and extend yourself to finish one without properly training. I ran the Grand Rapids marathon in 2009 with my longest training run totalling out at 14 miles. It was painful, to say the least, but I learned a ton, and I have no regrets.
They say you can’t sign up for your next marathon until you forget the last one.
The other week, I had a friend ask me what the appeal of a full marathon really was. And I drew a blank. What’s wrong with just running a few miles every day and leaving it at that? I don’t know. I don’t really remember what motivated me to sign up for the Marine Corp Marathon in the first place. I think maybe I needed something hard. Something that would keep me focused and a difficult goal to work towards. If I rediscover what the attraction of the marathon is in the training process and can put it into words, I’ll share it here, but for now, I can’t remember what I’m doing this for. Meanwhile, I’m reminded of a couple quotes by Yvon Chouinard: “The best journeys answer questions that in the beginning, you didn’t even think to ask.”
“So it’s kind of like the quest for the holy grail, well you know, who gives a shit about what the holy grail is, it’s the quest that’s important. The transformation is within yourself, that’s what’s important.”
“You get to the top of a wall, there’s nothing up there. Lionel Terray, the great French climber called it ‘The conquistadors of the useless.’ Yeah, the end result is absolutely useless, but every time I travel, I learn something new and hopefully I get to be a better person.”
Whatever it is inside me that’s itching to run a marathon, I can’t put a finger on it, but it feels like something I have to do. I’ll figure out why it’s important along the way.
Which brings me to my next point. In addition to running the Marine Corp Marathon with my brother (and cousin and cousin-in-law, who I just learned are also running it), my sister and a few of my cousins have decided to run the Chicago Marathon and raise money for lymphoma research. I can’t describe how meaningful it feels to have others get up and run for 26.2 miles for me when they wouldn’t have done it alone.
I continue to believe that – barring injury – anyone can finish a marathon if they are willing to work for it, and so I’m looking forward cheering them along during every mile in Chicago in October. So, if you want to help, I implore you to donate money to their Team in Training pages, even if it’s only $5:
And I can say how, directly, even though Hodgkin’s lymphoma is treatable and has a high cure rate, recent research into cancer drugs has made my treatment more pleasant that it used to be. I mentioned to my oncologist a month ago that I was a little nauseous from the chemo, so for the last couple rounds, I’ve gotten a new anti-nausea drug that only came out on the market a couple years ago. I don’t remember what it’s called, but it works, and as a result, chemo sucks just a little less.