This Sunday I run my first ever half marathon. I decided last year to run a half marathon in celebration of 10 years of surviving cancer. Crazy way to celebrate I know!

I started training runs back in April. Back in April it seemed like forever before it would be here and now it’s just 5 days away, 5 freaking days! Every night I go to bed and wake up about 2am and ask myself over and over again amidst the panic attacks, what was I thinking! But I calm myself and say, “It never has and never will matter how you get it done, but you will get it done!”

I’ve decided that it is not a coincidence that I will run this race on August 3rd. The day before, August 2nd, is the THIRD anniversary of my mother’s death due to cancer. I know my Mom would be very proud of me for having the determination to give this a try. I can visualize her smiling down on me. My grandmother, who passed in February would have been worried for me and said, why do you want to do that? I know she would say that, because she said it every time I told her I ran a race. She asked me why I wanted to run. I told her it’s the only way I know how to fight back against this stupid disease called cancer. My Grandma lived to be a hundred; she had some of that stupid cancer removed from her body in the 70’s. I guess she was entitled to worry about me running at my age. I hope now, she too is looking down on me and smiling at these accomplishments I am working through. I miss them both, my mom and her mother.

The farthest I’ve ran in my training runs is 10 miles. The week I had to run 8 miles I cried. I kept asking myself, “Why did I decide I should do this?” My cousin Anna told me, mile 9 would be easier. She was right. When I ran 10 miles I was pretty well shot for the rest of the day and I told my daughter, “I don’t know if I have 3 more miles in me!” She assured me I did.

In talking to my friend Carolyna last year, I started thinking I could run 13.1 miles. She had done it herself and the seed was planted. I started seeing those 13.1 stickers on the backs of cars; it seemed as if I saw them on everyone’s car, calling out to me, “you CAN do THIS!” So I started looking at half marathons in my general area. I had sort of decided to do the Naperville Trails half, but I hadn’t signed up for it. I mentioned it to my friend Carolyna and she asked me if I was stuck on that one or would I consider doing the Biggest Loser Half marathon in Chicago? She wanted to do this one, she had run a shorter race with them. Carolyna is my Chicago ride. I don’t like to think about driving into the city. I’ve done it, I don’t like it, but I don’t have a problem being the back seat passenger. So I said, “sure, I’ll do it!” It seemed a little easier to think about doing a half, knowing I had a buddy out there running too, and as I recall, I signed up within a few days of talking to Carolyna. Then Carolyna found herself with some injuries and I started to worry again. How would I get to the city for this race? My friend Karen offered to take me and run with me. My friend Karen runs fast, I do not. I said, “You know how long this is going to take me?” She said she didn’t care. But Carolyna is healing and she has traded over her half for the 5K. I’m glad I have a friend like Karen, but I told her Carolyna got me into this mess, I need to see it through with her! I’ve got some great friends; I’m a lucky girl to have so many on my side.

As August 3rd kept getting closer I began to worry about doing this particular race, The Biggest Loser. I told my Facebook peeps I felt like a fraud. I hadn’t lost a lot of weight by diet and exercise. I had lost 52 pounds during my cancer treatments, laying on my couch, thinking I was going to die. It was really starting to bother me, but then my friend Jerry said, “You beat your cancer and lost that disease, so if that’s not the Biggest Loser I don’t know what it’s!” “Wow”, I said, “thanks Jerry! How could I not see that connection?”

So yeah, I’m the Biggest Loser, 10 years and counting. I wish my Mom could be there at the Finish Line, but I know I will carry her in my heart and think of her every step of those 13.1 miles and I will also carry the love of so many family and friends, those I’ve named, and those I haven’t, who have helped me on this journey of running 13.1 miles in celebration of living. So go ahead and call me, a big loser! I say thank you!


About jlturtlerunner

12 plus Years Surviving Stage IV Oral Cancer. I have become a "Turtle" runner since that diagnosis, as a way of saying, "Take That Sucker!" After 12 years of being a Turtle Runner, I'm adding a new title, Turtle Rucker!

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