A lot of people have been asking about my recent adventure to Seattle to participate in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. Through my efforts with Team in Training, and because of very generous donations by my friends and family, I raised $3,723 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society! Wow!
This is my story.
My trip to Seattle was perfect. While I’m not much of a “bucket list” type person, I do recognize a once in a lifetime experience. This was one of them. The idea hatched from a simple, yet somewhat careless New Year’s resolution or “revolution” as my six year old calls them. Standing tall and proud in my kitchen and waiving my glass of champagne around like a royal chalice, I boldly proclaimed that this year I would participate in a half marathon. With dismissive looks by my sweet husband, I was made even more determined. If you know me, you know that you shouldn’t tell me I can’t or won’t do something. Willful defiance has always been a big motivator for me. He firmly denies any such looks. But I know what I saw.
And so the journey began.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has always held a special place in my heart. In 2001 I lost my Uncle Gene to Lymphoma, and that absence left a large and noticeable hole in our family. Since then, this organization has found its way into my life on numerous occasions. I can only take that as a sign.
Training for this event was fun. It was also tiring. It was exhilarating and it was sometimes very wet. I met some fascinating people along the way. People that were so giving of their time, money and support. People that inspired me to be a better person.
So off I went to the Emerald City with lofty goals and high hopes. The weather was perfect for such an adventure. Clear and crisp. There were about 12,000 participants there, but it never felt that big. When the air horn blared for corral 32 (a little disappointed that it wasn’t a gunshot) we took off down the streets of Seattle. Miles one through three were a breeze and I was pumped! My running mate Heather kept cautioning me to slow down, but you know how that went (see paragraph two).
At mile four, a very unfortunate smelling young man appeared in our pace group. Seinfeld quotes of BBO were thrown about. I mean, it was bad. “Tacos” is probably the best word to describe him. Fortunately there was a majestic view of Mount Rainier to help keep me distracted. But just barely.
Mile seven greeted us with a long stretch of very large American flags. It was so beautiful and the people holding them were cheering and waving. It was a moment that gave you chills and made you glad to be an
American. Still feeling great and enjoying the beautiful lake view, I proudly shuffled along.
Around mile eight I started to get a little nausey. It came out of nowhere. Perhaps it was the energy jelly beans I had just eaten. Or perhaps it was the big piece of cheese I ate for breakfast. We’ll never know for sure. But it was around that time that we began the 1400-foot trek through the Mount Baker Tunnel. I didn’t care much for being trapped in a tunnel with little circulation. Or for the impending feeling that I might vomit at any minute. Fortunately, we lost Taco Boy a ways back, so I was able to avoid an embarrassing scene and hightail it out of there.
Miles 10 and 11 were very quiet for everyone. As I trudged on, my legs got heavier and my feisty disposition faded into serious questions about my mental health for embarking on such a foolish venture. It was then that I really called upon the higher powers. I also used this time to think about everyone that I had lost to cancer.
I fondly remembered Uncle Gene and all the times when I was a teenager that he would school me on the importance of good nutrition:
“You need to eat your green beans, Stacey” he would say, “They’re full of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D…” and on and on he would go. I remembered his disapproving frown when I would order two servings of mashed potatoes in place of the broccoli. And I laughed as I imagined him looking down on me saying “See? You should have eaten your vegetables this morning instead of that big hunk of cheese.”
Once we reached mile 12, my spirits and my pace picked up again. Great music surrounded me and crowds of cheering fans grew bigger and louder. When the finish line appeared over the last hill, the enormity of my accomplishment hit me. I did it. I made it to the finish line. Six months of determination and hard work paid off. As tears fell down my face, Heather grabbed my hand, as if she could hear my thoughts. We crossed the finish line, hand in hand, both accomplishing more than we ever thought we could.
They gave us our medal and promptly herded us up (another) hill and out of the way. I guess to make room for the five remaining participants that were left on the course. We were greeted with water, fruit cups, slices of bread, and um, chocolate milk?
Nothing sounded grosser at that particular moment in time than chocolate milk. But as I approached a cute young girl thrusting a bottle of milk into the air, I heard her say “Get your chocolate milk here! Full of vitamin C, Vitamin D, Folic Acid, everything you need!”
So I drank the chocolate milk.