Wow, where do I start. Well, let try this — I RAN HALF-MARATHON!!!
Yes, I am squealing as I said that with a full blown excitement since for me personally, this is a huuuugee accomplishment. Never in a million years, I imagined myself to do a long distance run, let alone ran 13.1 miles. Who does that? I mean – WHY anybody in the world do that? I used to questioned that. I’m a mountaineer. A hiker. I am certainly NOT a runner.
Six months ago, my friend Karen Lopez (t) asked me if I want to join SQL Run, and I was probably intoxicated when I told her – Sure, why not! Before I knew it, I was on the list of people who were going to run (see her post here). At that time, I was busy preparing myself for the climb (remember my Mt. Rainier climb preparation – I was quite busy then) and didn’t think much about it. I told myself – I’m pretty fit, I can do this, and I can start my training after my climb.
Fast forward a few months, I climbed the mountain and it was time to get serious with this running business. I joined Team In Training and I have to do (another) fundraising, shortly after my fundraising for the climb as well as training for the half. That was eleven weeks ago, and boy, I was so wrong with ‘I’m pretty fit, I can do this easily’ part.
I was injured. Multiple times because I wasn’t building up my endurance slowly. For those that know me, patience really not my strongest suit. I felt like I can run more, and that’s when it backfired. I stuck it out though. I made a public commitment that I was going to do this, and I wasn’t going to quit. I was too embarrassed to quit, even though there was many, many weeks that I didn’t want to run anymore. There. I said it out loud.
Then along the ways, something changed. I was starting to like it. Then a few weeks after, I was starting to love it, and before long, I was actually enjoying my running time. The sound of my breathing, the shoes hitting the ground, the ever changing scenery as I ran. The peace in my mind as I created a void for just myself during my run. The opportunity to just reflect and just be. That’s my escape. For those who know my personal battle with cancer, you know that I also have challenges after challenges during this training and there was time that I actually thought I had to literally drag myself for the entire course of the half-marathon due to never-ending fatigued that I experienced as a side effect of my newly dosage medicine.
It was quite an experience, and I’m not even talking about the race yet.
Fundraising and Inspiration Dinner
As I mentioned above, I joined Team In Training as a preparation for this race. Team In Training is part of Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and they raised money for blood cancer research and patient support. Obviously, this organization hold a very dear place in my heart as I am their living example of what their organization can do, and what the result of the research do to a patient.
I have to give a shout out to my SQL Community. This community is so generous and awesome! I just get done with the fundraising for American Lung Association for my climb which I raised over $10,000 and I turned around and start another one and I raised $2,350.00!! Waaaay more than what the minimum required or what my personal goal was! I have very generous friends who believe in my cause and supported me all the way. I feel so blessed!
The night before the race, we were invited to an inspiration dinner hosted by Team In Training. I have invited Brent Ozar (t), Rob Farley (t) and Ryan Malcom (t) to join me and my husband, John for the dinner. It was EPIC! Right from the start, we are greeted by Team In Training alumni, coach and volunteer and I am not talking by just ‘Hi, how are you, nice to see you here‘ greeting. They are all dressed up in purple, with all the bells, sign and full blown cheering us! It was pretty awesome!! There must be over 300 peoples on the ballroom! Those were runners and their families, coaches, alumni and volunteer of Team In Training.
The event started with announcing the numbers and statistics. As a group, we raised over half-million dollars for this event! That is very impressive!! The slide on the projector was displaying the pictures of the survivors, honorary members and the loved one that we lost. It was.. bitter sweet for me. Then my name was called to the podium. It’s my turn to say a word or two.
I stepped in to the podium and thank everybody for their effort. I’m one of the lucky one and the reason that I can stand before everybody at that very room is because 15 years ago, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society decided to fund research of my current medicine, which was then approved and made available to public 10 years ago. This medicine allow me to have a normal life. As normal as you can be, when you are a survivor. Because of it, I was able to climb the mountain and was about to run my first half-marathon. I want everybody there to know that their effort and hard work actually do save life and give hope. To me. And to the rest of the survivor and their family. There were tears everywhere, and I hope that was tears of joy.
I woke up at 3:30am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I tossed and turned and finally decided to get ready around 5am. I have to meet the rest of my team at their hotel by 5:45am. I was a bit nervous and antsy but I knew that I’m ready for this moment. We had a team meeting and chatted with our running coach and started to walk to our corral. I was placed at corral W.
Our corral started to move around 7:20am and at exactly 7:27am – I crossed the start line. There were so many people around me that I had a hard time to even walk! I started my application to track my time, turn my audiobook on and started my run. I did 3-1 Galloway method, which was run for 3 minutes and walk for 1 minutes.
It was hard to get into a rhythm because there were so many people but after the first mile, I finally get into my zone. 5 miles went by so fast and I didn’t even realized them. My coach out of nowhere run alongside of me an d started to chat and made sure I was okay. It was a pleasant surprise!! He ran for a couple miles with me and went off to the side of the road to check on the other TNT runner. I saw John and Ryan at various point during the cross with their big sign and smile! It was so awesome!! There so many spectator and especially, Team In Training supporter!!!
I heard my name called and I looked up and I saw Erin Stellato (t). She was waaaay ahead of me, but we ran into each other on this one stretch of the course and it was so, so awesome to see her!! Shortly after, I saw Jes Borland (t) who literally screamed her lung out when she saw me! Shortly after, I hit the 8 miles marker and turn around on that stretch and I saw Karen, Brent and Rob Farley went the other way. I high-fived them, screamed their name with a huge grin in my face and went on with my running. Somehow, I missed Rob Drysdale (t) and Allen White (t) on that stretch.
Around 10 miles mark, my coach run alongside me again and gave me some encouraging wisdom to power me for the rest of few miles. I was pumped and not even once I had to talk myself to keep running!
My running app told me that I have a mile to go and I was pumped! I ran faster and harder and crowd was just chanting and cheering all of us! I can’t express with words how I felt other than awesome! I kept on running and I heard my name shout out LOUD. I couldn’t really see where the voice came from but I knew that was Jes and Erin. I kept on running and I saw them on the right side, behind the fence. They were bouncing up and down, screaming my name loud and I was in heaven! I looked at to the left side and I saw Ryan, Bill and Doug holding #SQLRUN sign. I ran even faster, my tears started to fell and I barely can see anything as I started crying. I lifted both of my hands up and crossed the finish line. I did it. I finished! Upright and smiling!!!
I got my medal and space blanket and walked towards the food line, which by the way, AMAZING. Got my finisher shirt, roses, trees and pendant. I had one thing in my mind. I want to see my husband, John. I knew he was there by the finish line, even though I can’t see or hear him. I kept walking and found myself by the Team In Training tent. I signed off, high-fived a lot of peoples, ate more foods and saw Rob D., Ryan, Bill, Mike and Doug. They were standing by Ray of Hope tent. I joined them and chit chat for a bit before I caught a glimpse of John in the corner of my eyes. I ran towards him, literally leaped into his arm and I lost it. I cried my heart out. This was a huge accomplishment for me as I had so many, many challenges leading up to this point. Not even a year ago, I was undergo three weeks radiation and since then, I climbed the mountain and now, ran a half-marathon!!
After a hot shower, stretched and a lot of water, I went to have lunch with the rest of my friends I mentioned above. It was the most delicious brunch I ever had! We chatted, we took pictures, we drank, we ate and we had so much fun! I looked around the table and found myself tear up a bit. I had amazing support, amazing friends and amazing group of runner. I’m very proud to call these people my friends, my new extended-family. I love them. Because of them, I can proudly say now that I am a runner.
Thank you. Thank you for your support, your encouragement, your friendship and most importantly, thank you for being in my life.
Lastly, I want to thank my husband, John, who put up with my whiny days, drove me at the wee hours and rode his bike alongside with me while I did my long run without even a single complaint.
I can’t do this without you.
I have the next crazy thing line up, but I think I’m going to save it for a different post. Stay tuned. You will know soon.