I had stood on the sidelines of the NYC Marathon for five years cheering on my aunt Kelly and uncle Chris as either both of them or one of them ran the marathon year after year. They ran on Fred’s Team which supports cancer research for the Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital and ran in honor of Kelly’s father who passed away from the horrific disease.
Each year my mom and I along with other family members stood on the sidewalk cheering. Being a spectator at this event is amazing and as I stood there I was overcome with emotion. I remember looking over at my mom and both of us had tears in our eyes. You see people from all walks of life embarking on an epic 26.2 mile journey and it is truly incredible.
As I stood on the sidelines a spark was ignited inside me and I knew that one day I wanted to embark on this epic journey myself. But saying yes to 26.2 miles isn’t easy. It took me five years to work up the courage and when I hit the submit button and signed up with Fred’s Team I knew there was no turning back.
Before I began training for the marathon three miles was my normal routine. How in the world did I ever think that I was going to be able to run 26.2? But here is the thing . . . you are so much stronger than you think you are. You can do incredible things when you put your mind to it and just take it step by step.
And that is exactly what I did. I had a training schedule that slowly increased my miles and soon 3 miles became 10, 10 miles became 15, 15 became 22! At the end of my training runs I stood there exhausted but also incredibly proud of myself. I was doing something I never thought I could do and it all happened because I decided to show up.
For some of my runs you may have passed me on the street and thought that I was running in slow motion . . . but even in slow motion I was running. During those incredibly challenging moments I pictured my family and friends cheering me on. I replayed in my head the encouraging words they left on my donations page for Fred’s Team and it motivated me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Come race day I was filled with a bit of nervousness but it was overpowered by excitement. This was the day I had been working towards. All my hard work and effort was for this moment and I wanted to enjoy it. It was one of the most epic days of my life. Family and friends traveled around the city to cheer me on. I had written on my wrist each mile I was going to see them at and it was those moments when I saw their smiling faces and heard there cheers that kept me moving forward. When I began to struggle I would look at my wrist and think that I just needed to make it to that next mile and everything was going to be ok, and it was.
In life we aren’t meant to do things alone. I may have been running the marathon by myself but I was never truly alone. The encouragement from my family and friends throughout my training and on race day is what got me through. They were with me every step of the way. The pushed me along, cheered my name, and were a constant reminder to me that I could actually do this.
As I look back on the marathon one of the things I am most grateful for is that my mom was there to see me run. My mom loved the marathon and looked forward every year to cheering on my aunt and uncle. Having her be there for me meant the world to me. She was so proud. Her face beaming with a smile each time I ran past her. It reminded me of the days I ran cross country; she was always there on the sidelines cheering me on.
This year I will be going back to the marathon as a spectator to cheer on my uncle Chris who is running once again for Fred’s Team. He is running in honor Kelly’s dad but also in honor of my mom. Even though my mom won’t be on the sidelines with us cheering him on I know she will be there in spirit and looking down with pride.
Running with Fred’s Team is an incredible way to run the marathon. Not only do you raise money for cancer research but the team is there for you every step of the way. Chris has set a lofty goal of raising $6,000 this year and every dollar raised makes a difference. Cancer is an all too common disease that affects to many lives and families. Please join in the fight and donate to Fred’s Team through Chris’s fundraising page. No donation is too small. Click HERE to donate. If you are interested in learning more about Chris’s story click here to see the very personal page he has created.
When we come together we are so much stronger than when we stand alone. I learned this while training for the marathon and that lesson has stuck deeply within my heart. Together let’s fight the fight and imagine a world without cancer.