“A journey of a thousand starts beneath one’s feet.” – Lao Tsu
I have a lot of long term goals. I am seven books into a quest I started four years ago of reading a biography of each US President in chronological order. I recently started a project to read a seminal text from each of the world’s major religions. I have a list of college football venues and games that I would like to attend before I kick the bucket. I want to hike at least one mile in every US National Park, and I want to travel to all seven continents with my beautiful wife (five down, two to go).
So when I read about people who had done the 50 state marathon challenge, I thought that it would be a fun goal to go after over the next several years.
In Feb. 2015, I ran my first marathon, the Rock n Roll DC marathon:
And in Oct. 2015, I ran my second one, the Marine Corps Marathon:
That second marathon was probably one of the dumbest decisions in my life, and you can probably see it on my face. I had just recovered from a stress fracture and had not run at all for about 7 weeks before the race. I barely finished and it wasn’t pretty. I was so wrecked when I finished. When I went to my friend Rob’s place after the race, my legs seized up, and I had to crawl across his living room to his bathroom to try and take a shower.
I swore off marathons after the MCM, arrogantly blaming the nature of a marathon itself rather than blaming my ego and my lack of respect for the marathon distance. I told myself that moving forward, I’d really only do 10Ks, 10 milers and half marathons.
Then, about a month ago, in Feb. 2016, my mom was diagnosed with kidney cancer that has spread to her brain. The news is still recent, and we are going through the treatment now. Things so far are looking quite positive, all things considered, and we are all remaining very positive and optimistic. It is hard to write about, though, and I’m not sure to what extent or in what form I will write about it as I keep this blog going.
After receiving this diagnosis, I wanted to do something actionable to try and raise money for kidney cancer research and cancer support. So I am starting my personal challenge, to run one marathon in all of the US states + DC.
I have two races down:
(1) Washington, District of Columbia (Rock n Roll DC – finished in 4:32:04 on 3/14/2015)
(2) Virginia (Marine Corps Marathon – finished in 4:56:59 on 10/25/2015).
I don’t know what to accomplish by writing this blog. At a very basic level, if my journey can spur a net positive in one person’s life, then it’s worth it. It sounds cliche, but I really do mean it.
In a larger sense, I do want to raise money for the fight against kidney cancer. My mom has benefited from some excellent health care. I mean, the fact that a technology like gamma knife stereotactic radiation even exists to treat brain tumors is goddamn medical marvel. Hopefully, in the not so distant future, even treatments like this will seem antiquated.
I know that whatever money I can cobble together will be just a drop in the bucket relative to the magnitude of the fight against kidney cancer. All I really want is to be able to raise some money that in some way can lead to a real, tangible benefit in someone’s life. Maybe that means an early detection diagnosis, or a payment for an expensive drug. Ever since my mom’s diagnosis, I’ve felt like I’m on the other side of a fence that cancer patients and their families experience. I guess this is my way to try and maintain some control over it and to try and turn a very sour lemon into something somewhat positive.
I don’t know how I plan to raise money. I’m generally very hesitant to ask people for anything. But I’ll figure out a way that works.
RUNNING AS A STORY
Lastly, I think this blog will just be an interesting way to catalog my life through the lens of running. It’s kind of like telling the story of a vacation by describing the food you eat. I am fully aware that running these races will take several years, and I figure that keeping a running blog is just as good a way as any to catalog the next few years of my life. But one thing I will promise, though, come hell or high water – I won’t stop until I hit my goal. No. Matter. What.