The marathon — more of the aftermath and what it all meant

June 7, 2007 at 4:58 am | Posted in chemotherapy, marathon, Rene McGillicuddy | 1 Comment

First, the physical. I had pretty significant blisters on the ball of my feet, both of them. One had a blister a bit smaller in size than a credit card. Luckily, they have pretty much healed, although the feet are still a bit tender.

And I moan a lot when I get up from a lying or sitting position, particularly when I have been there for a long time. I sound just like an old man. Which I suppose I’m becoming.

Fortunately, there really hasn’t been any other physical ailments. I’ve recovered really well.

The biggest changes have been mental.

You know, the end of the marathon itself had not been one where I was in the best of mental states. For about the last ten miles or so I had such a challenging time with the heat, dehydration, and everything else, that the end of the marathon took so much out of me — I was struggling and in such pain that I couldn’t think about what it meant. I was just so over everything and was ready to finish and take my shoes off.

But the longer I get away in time from the marathon, the more it means to me. I didn’t go into this marathon “for myself” — I did this really for to celebrate my 5 years of being disease free, the cause, to expand my involvement, to raise money, and to be an even bigger motivator to others. For me, it was never a question in my head that I’d finish the marathon. Of course I was going to finish the marathon. I’ve been around the Team in Training program, and knew it was very good in helping new runners finish a marathon, and I knew the program would help me to do that. So it was never a question I would complete it.

But it’s hit me in the last couple of days — wow, I just completed a freakin’ marathon! That’s a HUGE deal, as impressive as other things I’ve done in life.  One of the TNT captains noted that, if estimates that 280,000 people in this country have run marathons, and there are about 300 million US citizens, that means that roughly only 1 in 10,000 people have completed a marathon. Not that many people! It’s impressive an achievement, even without all the other things about it. Particularly me, someone who’s not been athletic in any way in my previous 43 years, some dabbling in high school football notwithstanding.

Another thing I’ve realized is not that I’ve just completed it, but what it took to complete it.  One of the TNT coaches, the one who ran with me to the finish line at the marathon, made this comment about me finishing in light of the problems I had — he said, “Anyone can run a marathon when they are feeling well but it takes a lot more to stick one out when you are not. You showed me a lot out there on Sunday, you have a lot to be proud of.” He’s quite inspirational himself. More on him and that experience in a later post.

Another thing a couple of people have pointed out to me — It isn’t that I’ve JUST run a marathon, something extremely noteworthy by itself, but I’ve run a marathon AND survived leukemia, two very significant and inspiring accomplishments. My good friend and running partner Rene mentioned to me how phenomenal it is to get to five years disease free, and to achieve in an endurance event (she’s also five years disease free and she’s done a 100-mile bike race along with several triathlons). She’s very proud of me, and is pretty insprirational to me as well, and she’s right.

So while the physical recovery from the marathon is almost complete, the mental and emotional experiences seem to continue and develop each day.

I’m quite thankful, and amazed.

The marathon – link for pictures

June 6, 2007 at 7:03 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s now been two days since the marathon, and I’m still mentally trying to figure out what it all means. I’ve also been very busy with work, and I’m traveling later in the week to go back to Texas for a family reunion, and looking forward to seeing everyone. I’ll be posting more about the experience in the coming days, but until then, here’s a link to a Picassa Web Album of pictures I took during the event (at least during the first half when I could still think and process)….

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And below is the first picture I took after the marathon — my good friend from college, David Moore, came up for the marathon and met me at the finish. That’s him with me in the picture, with the finisher’s medal.

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See the post above for what I’m understanding about the experience in the moments since the marathon.

Marathon day

June 4, 2007 at 5:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

It was a good day for me. A long day, but overall very good. Will post more tomorrow. But if you’re checking, I did make it — I am a marathon finisher. I am proud of that.

As I get more rest and get more perspective, my concept will change I’m sure, but it was tough. I figured out another siimilarity between leukemia and running a marathon — unexpected things pop up that change the way they go. After a cool gray day Saturday, the day of the race Sunday was hot, starting about (for me) mile 12. By mile 16 I was sweating more than normal (which is considerable), having cramps in the calves (charley horses), and was becoming dehydrated (even with drinking and eating appropriately). The TNT staff who were with me and I decided it would be best for me to walk the remainder from about mile 17, so my time wasn’t what I expected. I did better but it was still tough the rest of the way.
More tomorrow, with pictures. Time to rest the legs (and the blisters on the bottom of the feet…).

Marathon weekend — expo and pasta party

June 3, 2007 at 6:22 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

 It’s now about 11 pm the night before the marathon, and I’m in the hotel room.  I knew I wouldn’t drift off to sleep that quickly, so I thought I’d post the pics from today.

As part of the marathon experience, there are a couple of events that those of you who’ve done it may recall. First, is picking up your race number at the marathon expo.

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That’s number 22281…..  My lucky number!
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Here are my very good friends Mitch and Devin, who came down to support me this weekend. I really appreciated having them there — they really helped me deal with the pre-race jitters.

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I spent some of the day Saturday getting my shirt I’m racing in ready. I got some fabric paint, and added some messages on the shirt for the race. That way when people see it, they’ll know I’m celebrating the 5 year anniversary of my remission.

Then it was off to an event that Team in Training has the night before the race for its participants in the marathon — the TNT Pasta Party. At the group comes together for a pasta buffet, and hears a lot of motivational speeches.
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Coming into the event it gets a little crazy as the TNT staff and coaches yell and scream for the participants as they walk in. Above are some from my team — the Coach Dan, and two Captains, Carolyn and Carl. They’re all great,  supportive people.

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Here’s our team manager Becky. The manager makes the arrangements for the training, and particularly for the event. Apparently wearing a crazy afro wig is part of the job as well.

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Interestingly, in the hall where the event takes place, on the screens while everyone files in and sits before the program begins, they put up rotating slides of the honorees from various TNT chapters around the country. I was on one of them. I had seen these before at other TNT pasta parties I had attended for other marathons. The first time I saw it I was a little taken aback. But now it’s standard at all, apparently. I’m at more of these events than I realized.

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Here’s one of my good friend, honoree, and person for whom I run, Doug.

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Here are some fellow Peninsula Run Team teammates who will be running the marathon with me tomorrow.  Good times.

At the event, they said there are almost 4,000 Team in Training participants from around the country at the event, and collectively for this event we raised $12.5 million.  Pretty impressive.  And $6k of that was mine (well, all of you who donated — thanks again….)

I’m beginning to get a bit sleepy, so I’ll try to get a little sleep (3:45 am wake up call, so it won’t be much.)  I’m nowhere near as antsy as last night.  I’ve been looking over the blog entries this entry, and thinking a lot of how far I’ve come — not just in the last few months, but in the last 5 1/2 years since the first symptoms appeared.  Life is pretty amazing.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow as the culmination of the journey back from those dark moments early on, and the celebration of being able to live and thrive in the future.

Until tomorrow…..

Blogging marathon weekend — the flight out

June 2, 2007 at 4:19 am | Posted in My current training, TNT | Leave a comment

I’m hoping to be able to blog periodically through the weekend, shorter messages than what I normally do, adding pictures when appropriate.

It’s now Friday evening, and I’m flying out of SFO to San Diego. We’ve been delayed for 2 hours, so I’m here in the boarding area…. Waiting….. I travel a lot for work so I know, you can’t get frustrated by travel troubles. Things are going to work out the way they’re going to, whether you get upset or not. So might as well just go with it.

I’ve been getting a lot of calls, emails, cards, and other messages from a lot of people wishing me support the last couple of days — family, friends, co-workers, It’s been terrific and I’ve really appreciated it, but it has also has had the effect of slowly making me a bit more nervous.

I’ve been finding myself a little antsy the last couple of days. Between the packing, and the messages of support, I’m realizing: It’s here. It’s coming. I’ve been thinking of doing one of these for years, and have been planning for at least a year mentally, and training the last 5-6 months. I know physically I’m ready as I’ll be, and I know it will be a good experience. But still…. The closeness of the event is getting to me.

Also, there’s the fear of the unknown. I’ve never done one of these, and I have never run more than 20 miles. I know from a training standpoint that I’m ready, but there are so many things that you hear about that could happen.

Finally, there’s the internal mind game that is coming back. There’s a part of me mentally that has kept me from doing a number of things in life, that is somewhat controlling, saying “You can’t do that. That’s not you.” I suppose in some ways in some things we all have that little voice, but for me it’s kept me from doing things outside my comfort zone, like athletic things.

I’ve been keeping it at bay for this training season, mostly because I’ve been so motivated and focused on the five year anniversary, and the fundraising, and knowing that the TNT program will take me through it. And none of that has changed. But the “You can’t”s have returned in the last couple of days.

This afternoon on the way home from work and before getting home, I finally broke through. I know I don’t have to let my own internal limitations keep me from enjoying the weekend, and appreciate all the good things that will happen this weekend. It’s like, it was the “You can’t”s last chance. And they’re not going to win this one. And, going full circle on this, the support of everyone reminds me that I can do it and I will enjoy it.

Enough psychobabble. I’ll get in pretty late into San Diego tonight, but will get a good night’s and morning’s sleep tomorrow. They say two nights before the marathon is the time to get lots of good rest, since it’s hard to sleep the actual night before, and marathon day provides a lot of adrenalin and starts very early.

OK, so this wasn’t a shorter message. Will keep you posted.

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