While I am very bummed at the fact that the NYC Marathon was just cancelled, I am more bummed at the fact that I won’t be spending the weekend with Ethan Zohn and my Grassroot Soccer family. This year was GRS’s 4th year at NY and I have been with them since the beginning. Ethan had asked if I would talk for a few minutes at our team dinner on Saturday night. And yes…. bummed to be missing that as well. But I thought the least I could do was put down a few words that I would probably want to say to my GRS teammates…
I first want to salute and applaud everyone for having the courage to take on this adventure. I think having that courage and commitment to take the plunge is sometimes the hardest part of the journey.
I was first introduced to our fearless captain by a mutual friend after Ethan’s initial diagnosis. This friend knew that we had a lot in common and thought we would be good for each other. This friend had no idea how right he was. Besides our shared passion for health and fitness, Ethan and I were also both former goalkeepers.
But the greatest common factor between Ethan and I is the fact that in February of 2006, I was diagnosed with a chronic form of leukemia. I underwent 4 rounds of chemo right away and quickly reached remission. I also did everything within my power to stay in shape and use fitness as a weapon in my treatment arsenal. I’ve always been an athlete and this year’s NYC marathon would have been my 21st trip at that distance.
Add to that 10 ironman finishes and countless other multisport events of every distance and you begin to get the picture. This has always been a way of life for me and I have literally raced and trained before, throughout, and post diagnosis and treatment; often running home from my chemo visits. I draw many parallels between the struggles we face in racing and the ones we face in real life. And I was not about to let leukemia take that lifestyle away from me.
At the end of the day, the key is how well we endure. Whatever that challenge is. Be it a diagnosis, a marathon, a natural disaster… whatever. What measures us and defines us is our ability to endure.
I keep coming back to this race, with this team for a number of reasons. First, I am incredibly proud to be a part of GRS and contribute to the insane amount of good they are doing in this world. Second, Ethan has become a very good friend and I want to support him and his efforts. Third, NYC is one of the premiere events in the world, and it’s very exciting to be a part of it all. And another big reason for me continuing to be a GRS team member, is the fact that – I can. It’s a choice that I can own and control.
I wish I could give you all some words of encouragement for your race on Sunday. Well, I guess I can but the points may be a little meaningless without the race. But understand that you do belong at this race. You have paid your dues and earned the right to race.
So, I will offer a few words to consider even with no race, words that have helped chart my course and remind me that the journey is just as important as the destination…
Embrace every single step of the way. Run with your head up and take in all of the sights and sounds that you can. Don’t wish your way to the finish line too quickly. This thing will be over before you know it. So make a friend out there. High five the kids along the way. Thank the volunteers who make it all possible. And be thankful for the opportunity, the courage, and the belief that you can do this – whatever it is.
See you guys soon.