Saturday, November 2, 2013

On Marathon Eve

When Joe and I met up with my college friend Christon at a Cracker Barrel off Route 95 on the way home from  Hilton Head, SC in the summer of 2009 I would never have imagined this day to be in my future. But, in many ways that lunch planted the seeds which now find me 1 sleep away from running the NYC Marathon after smashing through my $5,000 fundraising goal for the American Cancer Society (ACS). I'll never forget how in awe I was that day listening to Christon talk about how she trained for her first marathon and also how obvious it was that crossing the finish line had changed her powerfully. 

When Joe was ill with cancer 2 years later and in what would be his final months of life, Christon ran the NYC Marathon with ACS' Team DetermiNation and raised thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society, honoring Joe with every mile she ran. Three months after he died, I turned to running as an outlet for my grief and found in it so much more.

Tomorrow morning, I will wake up at a crazy hour and board a bus full of other Team DetermiNation runners bound for the start line of the NYC Marathon. Just typing that gets the tears to well up in the corners of my eyes. Since that very first text message conversation with my friend Melissa in April during which she started "recruiting" me to run the marathon, it has been an amazing journey.

Melissa: When your head feels better I'm going to try to talk you into running the NYC full with us. So that's a thing that will happen.
Me: This fall?!?!
Melissa: Shhhh. Your head hurts. This isn't really happening. It's a dream. Zzzzzzzzzz. (Yes, this fall.)

And, now here I am sitting in Joe's friend Scott's apartment in NYC having just finished my last run before the big race and all those question marks and exclamation points hardly seem like they were necessary. The fall deadline was, after all, not such a big deal. I had a kick ass training season which included Team Determination runs along the towpath and hill repeats at Rutgers, muggy and buggy training runs while traveling for work in Florida, and a whole bunch of fun races with friends and family.

I had the thrill of watching as family and friends, co-workers and acquaintances, people I knew from long ago and even some complete strangers donated to the American Cancer Society through my fundraising site. And I cried tears of joy and sometimes empathy as I read through the countless heartfelt messages people sent me along with their donations and at other random points in my training. I have the most amazing people in my life - people who have spurred me on to the verge of this truly amazing thing.

Last night I was still $585 away from my goal of raising $5,000 for ACS and the honest truth is that I wasn't sure I would hit it before crossing the start line. And then this morning came and with it the unbelievable email that popped up in my inbox around 8am - Congratulations! You have reached your fundraising goal!

And once again, those tears of joy and gratitude. Then, as if I needed more proof as to how fabulous you all are, the donations kept rolling in and are well over $5,100 as of right now. 

As I exited the subway at 53rd and Lexington to walk to Scott's apartment my random shuffle dealt me the perfect song at the perfect moment (I'm sold on random shuffle for tomorrow, by the way, Justin). I was standing at the spot where I had taken Joe for his chemo treatments many times over and looking at a bunch of emails with donations to ACS. The song was Faded by The Afghan Whigs and I have never felt more in tune with the direction of my life than I did right then. This is exactly where I am supposed to be and exactly what I am supposed to be doing. As only happens in the movies, the song ended just as I arrived at Scott's apartment.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thanks for supporting me. Thanks for loving on Domani. And most importantly, thanks for remembering our Joe - and for your simple, but powerful acts to build a world with less cancer and more
birthdays. Tomorrow I will run mile after mile after mile thinking about all of that and all of you.

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