On Sunday, June 1, 2008, at 6:30 AM, 17,828 runners at the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon, in 70° weather, ran 26.2 miles with an average time of 5:01:08 and raised $12.5 million for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
I was one of the 17,828 runners at the San Diego Rock n' Roll Marathon. It was a beautiful day for a run, and I was thrilled to be a part of the event and be surrounded by people with a common interest. I was a little speck in the sea of purple, which is Team In Training's signature color. "Running-Girl" was printed on my running number. Bystanders yelled out, "Go team!" and "Go Running-Girl!" They even called out my real name, which was printed on my singlet in white letters, to show their support. Having strangers cheer me on was very encouraging, touching, and emotional.
Earlier on in the race, I found myself behind a man sporting a t-shirt with the verse: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). It was the perfect prelude to my run. I meditated on that verse. For a moment, the cheer of the crowd was muffled by the intensity of my thoughts. As I entered into a world of my own, all I could hear was the cadence of my foot striking the asphalt. All I felt was my chest rising and falling with every breath. All I could taste was the saltiness of my perspiration rolling to the corners of my lips. And all I could smell was the freshness of the open air. I was beside myself. All my focus was on the quietness of the moment with my time with God. Each step was a thanksgiving with Christ, my Savior.
I thanked God for my health and for my ability to run 26.2 miles, especially during a milestone in my life. I declared my run in San Diego as a rite of passage as I entered into my 40th year of life. Not coincidentally, San Diego is my birthplace.
I absorbed the beauty that San Diego had to offer. On my run, I enjoyed the sites as I passed by the Seaport Village, Petco Park, Downtown San Diego, Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, Fashion Valley Center, Fiesta Island/Mission Bay, and Sea World.
Running 26.2 miles doesn't come easy, but I cannot complain. There is someone wishing they could be in my shoes going through the challenges I am faced with on my run, rather than suffering through the emotional struggles of cancer and the physical pain of chemotherapy.
Mile 21 was the toughest for me. That's when I thought about my personal honoree, Minnie, and the strength and courage she had shown over the 4 years battling cancer. One of my team honoree, Gregg, once told me, "Cancer survivors and runners have one thing in common. They both have to find the inner strength to continue on, no matter what the circumstances."
At mile 23, my inner strength grew weary. Then, at the right moment, God sent me a messenger on foot. I approached another runner wearing a shirt with a message, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." Yes, the same message I read at the beginning of the race. I knew God was with me.
My finishing time was 4 hours, 26 minutes, and 43 seconds-a personal record for me. The fascinating thing about running is that it's really a race against oneself. Each runner has their own agenda. One runner said it best, "There can be tens of thousands of marathoners sharing the same course, experiencing the same weather, covering the same mileage, but no one runs the same race."
In a place where life began for me 40 years ago, I felt as if my life has only just begun. Running 26.2 miles reminded me that I am capable of doing anything. My run is a celebration of life. Through Team-In Training, I got to fulfill my personal goal and be able to give a part of myself to make a difference in this world. I raised a total of $7810 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society with the help of family and friends. My run is not just for personal glory, but also for the fight against cancer so that others may celebrate life year after year.
The rewards for running a race through Team In Training are priceless. I've gained new friendships, helped raise money for cancer research, fulfilled my desire to mentor young runners, experienced the thrill of crossing the finish line, and gained a heightened respect for runners and the sport of running.
Now that my marathon is over, I can truly say that I had a great run. But the race isn't over yet. There is still research to be done. Until there is a cure for cancer, I will continue to run.
Running-girl signing off....
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