On April 24th, 2005 I will run my first 1/2 marathon! On January 1st, I started a 16 week training program, running 5 days a week leading up to the main event. This is my first time running an event of this distance and after 13 weeks so far I've run over 360 kilometers (225 miles) - almost 8 ½ marathons worth of training!! I've always admired marathon runners because I always thought that running a marathon was the ultimate test of endurance. I also thought that running a marathon would be the most impossible task ever to complete because I couldn't run 10 minutes without leg pain setting in!
On New Years Eve 2004, I received an annual holiday letter from my cousin in New Jersey recapping the year that was and wishing everyone the best for the year to come. He included in his letter a yellow "Livestrong" bracelet to commemorate his 10th year anniversary of being cancer free. After battling testicular cancer in 1994, he went out and ran the New York City Marathon. 10 years later he ran the Philadelphia ½ marathon to mark the anniversary. That night I put on the bracelet and committed to start training for the Nike ½ Marathon in Montreal this month. Marketing is a powerful tool, but that yellow piece of plastic made in China overtook me and I knew that as long as I was wearing it, failure wasn't an option. After registering for the race I received an email from a charity that is sponsoring the event, asking if I would like to help raise money for their cause. Although a very noble cause affecting hundreds of thousands or people, I decided to raise money for a cause that is closer to home.
People say you don't pick your parents and your family. In some ways that saying doesn't hold true anymore. While I didn't pick my parents, my mother picked a new man to marry in 1980 and with him came 2 new siblings and a new life. 4 years after their marriage came another sibling, my sister who will be turning 21 this May.
In 1986, my stepfather lost his only sibling to NF2. Soon after her loss, my stepbrothers and my stepfather were tested to determine whether or not they were carriers of the NF2 gene. My stepfather's mother also died of NF2 so it was clear that the gene was in the family. My stepfather was diagnosed with NF2 and in 1988 underwent surgery to remove a tumor on his left side. My stepbrother Michael, 1 year younger than me, was also diagnosed with NF2 and received treatment for his tumors in 1995 and 1997. In 2000, my 20 year old sister Lindsay also underwent surgery for NF2. After a 12 ½ hour operation in Boston, doctors successfully removed her tumor but she, along with my stepfather and stepbrother, suffered hearing loss. My brother's hearing has worsened over the past few years and tomorrow night we will begin a Signed English class at the McKay Centre for the Deaf in Montreal.
My family's resilience and determination has truly been an inspiration to us all. To honor my father, my brother and my sister, I set out to raise money to help fund research, which will hopefully one day find a cure for NF. My original goal was to raise $2,500. Within 24 hours I had attained my goal and the total just kept rising. With 18 days to go, I have raised over $7,000 for NF research. All that's left to do is get out there and run. My knees are working against me however I've got 18 more days to convince them that the end is in site!!
If you've thought about running, get out there and do it. If you don't know where to start, start by walking. Once you're comfortable walking add a few minutes of running followed by a few minutes of walking. Build up slowly and stick with it. And while you're at it, raise some money for a good cause. You'll be amazed by the generosity of human spirit.
See you at the finish line,