Confession, Folks. I am not an endurance athlete. I’m not. If you ask me to run all the way to my mailbox, I will give you A LOOK. If you want me to ride a bike, I will turn around and go home after 3 miles. I cough and get winded, and when I have a cold I have to use an inhaler, and sometimes I just do so I have the energy to get through a long workout. I go to the gym and sweat it out on the elliptical like every other girly-girl there (except I’m a dozen years older than those girls because I work at a university and it’s cheaper than joining the Y)… but you will never catch me on the treadmill, or in an aerobics class or tennis court. Golf makes me mad, hiking hurts my knees, swimming, even, my favorite sport of all, was off of my “to do” list for fifteen years. I used to hide in the fog coming off the top of the pool when we opened it for practice at 4:30 a.m. But the fog would dissipate by the time everyone was done with their warm-up and I would swim to the end, always one of the last ones. They put me in the pity events– 50 free and 100 or 150 backstroke. I sometimes tell people when they ask if I did endurance on the swim team then, and I say, “No, I was a sprinter.” That’s kind of a lie. I did the short events, but I wasn’t sprinting. I was in awe of the girls who could swim the distance events.
Team in Training understands this. They work you like a rented mule, push you to your limits, and they remind you that some things are not worth slacking off about. If I don’t feel like going to practice because I didn’t get enough sleep last night, I am reminded when I get on Facebook that Jessica spent her day with 3 kids, the twins are 1 1/2 year old, and she didn’t get to slack off. She doesn’t get to tell cancer to “Take it easy, Cancer. I need a day off from you.” I see Harriet there too, and she is helping organize a walk in Atlanta for breast cancer research, after losing her mother (Duke’s Aunt Franny) to multiple myeloma, and then going through breast cancer herself. And Kristie, who spent almost every day this summer at the hospital with her dad. Some days he was well enough to come home. Some days she just sat by his bed and prayed. These ladies have ENDURANCE.
I like to say it’s not really endurance for me– more… persistence. I was badly out of shape. And so when I finally decided to do something about it, it became an obsession. Luckily, I found a way to turn my persistence into passion. I give up on things all the time. I have uncompleted projects all over the house (Sorry, Duke!), but I am passionate about helping get rid of blood cancers. I don’t want anyone else to have to go through losing a loved one. I’ve been working with LLS for 5 years now. And here we are, nearly $110,000 later, and I am still persistent about this: I will do things I want to give up on, all in the name of beating cancer. I was tired yesterday. I didn’t want to go to practice. I have swam about 80 miles since I started training!! Eighty! That number KILLS me, because I really want to slack off, sit at home and read a book, watch a movie and play with my kids; see my husband. I fall asleep doing those things now, sometimes, because I am nonstop busy these days– training, working, sending out letters and thank you notes and cleaning (or not cleaning, but looking at the mess and trying to figure out where to start)… but I can’t give up. I have 2 little girls; I am a ROLE MODEL now. They are going to copy every. little. thing. I. DO. If I don’t set a good example, how will they learn that it is our DUTY to serve? I am not extremely religious, but I have faith, and I know a lot of people don’t, or they believe something different. But you cannot deny the truth in St. Francis of Assisi’s words: “For it is in giving that we receive.”
And that is what I want my children to understand. This is not endurance. This is living.
As a sidenote; I wrote this on Sept. 10th, but was planning to post that afternoon, but my computer was dead. My friend, Jessica, who I have mentioned in this blog several times (and in this post), met with her doctor yesterday at Johns Hopkins. After chemo, radiation, and a year and a half of fighting lymphoma, she is CANCER FREE!! Jess, I will be thinking of your victory on Sunday. So happy for you and your family.