Wednesday, October 22, 2014


i've never considered myself a runner.

yes, i've been running all my life.  on and off.  here and there.  soccer and basketball and softball practices of my childhood and teen years.  days long ago when my sister would be home from college on a break and she'd ask if i wanted to go for a run with her.  days when i'd latch key myself in the house and take the dog for a quick jog around the neighborhood.  i ran on the treadmill my last 2 years of high school, for health and beauty reasons mostly.  i ran my heart out in powderpuff football practices my senior year.  i ran around campus at michigan state, with friends and without, sometimes because i was late to class.

it wasn't until after harper was born that i wanted to run a race.  michael and i signed up for our first 5k, the detroit thanksgiving turkey trot, in 2009.  we trained for it, pushing harper in the jogger most times, but we left her with nana and papa for the actual race.  we ran it with michael's siblings, and it was tough.  i didn't think i could finish.  michael and i held hands as we crossed that finish line, so proud of that accomplishment after all of our hard work.  we signed up here and there for a few more 5ks after that, but nothing hard core.  michael ran a 10k in 2010.  i swore that was too much for me.

fast forward to my cancer diagnosis and my 18 days solo at my parent's house during my radiation.  i was itching to move, but couldn't go anywhere or be around people and it was extremely frigid outside (especially for a girl with no thyroid).  so one day, i hopped on their treadmill and ran.  it felt great.  so i did it again the next day.  and the next.  and it was there on that treadmill that i made the commitment to run a half-marathon.  i called michael post-run and told him.  he has always had the desire to run a half, so he was on board.  but he told me i should sign up before i changed my mind.  he knows me so well.  he also thought it might be a good idea if we made our run a fundraiser for the julian boivin courage for cures foundation, a foundation that began after friend's of ours lost their 5-year-old little boy to a brain tumor in 2011.  i liked his idea.

i signed us up in march, and we prepared ourselves to start training in june.  june came and i logged my first 2 mile run.  i won't lie, i struggled.  but i knew it was only 2 and i had to keep going because in just a few short months, i would be logging double digit miles at a time.  but june came and went and i couldn't get past 3 miles.  i posted on facebook asking for suggestions.  i made use of so many of them, and finally got to 4 miles on the fourth of july.  after that, it quickly went from 4 to 5 to 6 to 7 to 8 and 8 again.  we participated in a local 10k event, just so i could say that i did a 10k before jumping from a 5k to a half.

but then it stopped.  it was mid-august, i was nearing the end of summer break, and my heart just wasn't in it.  i ran a few short runs, but it was a month before i finally got around to a long run again.  i skipped the 9 mile run all together and just went straight for 10 to get back on our training pace.  10 went to 11 then 11 again and then 12.  and then it was 2 weeks pre-race.  we started our taper, a few moderate runs throughout the week and only one more 6 mile run before the big day.

we left the girls with nana and papa for an overnight and drove to grand rapids, directly to the expo to pick up our bibs.  we checked into the hotel, grabbed a pasta dinner with michael's brother, jeff, and his wife, megan.  (jeff was running his first full marathon the next day)  then we headed back for some good sleep.  i was ready.  i wasn't nervous at all.  i pictured myself crossing that finish line with 13.1 miles behind me.  i felt strong.

it.  was.  amazing.

it did not disappoint.  the trees changing colors.  the crisp, cool weather.  the energy of the crowd.  the motivation of fellow runners.  knowing the amount of money we raised for julian's foundation.  knowing that i wasn't only running for julian, but also for my sister, and all the life-changing events she has been through and the weight she has had to carry the last 6 months.

(heboo- you were with me in my thoughts every step of that race.  i love you more than you know.)

my goal was to finish in 2 hours, 30 minutes.  i crossed the line at 2:26:21.  i beat my time.  i accomplished something i never thought i could do.  and now i'm itching to sign up for my next one.  i've officially caught that runner's high.

i found a quote by nike founder bill bowerman that resonated with me...the real purpose of running isn't to win a race; it's to test the limits of the human heart.  this entire process sure did test every limit i could imagine.  i logged a total of 200 miles from june through race day, averaging 3-5 runs per week.  we raised over $2500 from family, friends, co-workers who wanted to show their support for us by supporting pediatric cancer research.  i taught one donation cycling class and participated in one hot vinyasa yoga class, both at which all participant proceeds went to the foundation.  i tripped on an uneven sidewalk crack right around mile 10 that could have ended in catastrophe, but instead i caught myself, steadied myself, and kept right on going, right to the handful of gummy bears waiting for me at the next aid station.  i sweat a whole hell of a lot.  i cried, during runs and afterwards.  my body ached and resisted more runs.  my knees started talking back to me more often.  i twisted and sprained my ankle near the beginning of my training.  my alarm clock jolted me out of deep sleep at 4:40 am for 5 am pitch black runs with my neighbor, sara, more often than i care to remember and it took everything i had to pull myself out of those warm covers.

but i did not lose any toenails in the process.  i did not quit.  and i did a whole lot of smiling.

don't compare yourself to others.  compare yourself to the person from yesterday.