Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fighting Back: Running the 2012 Chicago Marathon on behalf of the ACS

Last year, I watched my cousin run the Chicago Marathon. It was truly inspiring. I thought to myself, "I should run this."

But then reality set in, and I realized 26.2 miles is a long way to go, and I need to get more comfortable with the half marathon distance before tackling a full.

Well, this year, I ran two half marathons (and 10mi and 11.5mi races), and felt great at all of them. So I started thinking, what next? Obviously try to improve my half marathon time, but what else? Am I ready to train for a marathon?

My Uncle Tom, a career soldier in the Army, passed away in 2003 after a battle with cancer. I'm pretty sure it broke all of our hearts - his siblings (my mom, her sister and two brothers), his nieces and nephews (my cousins) and all of those who married into the family. He was a wonderful person. He loved rough housing with his nieces/nephews, loved to play jokes on us and tell us silly stories. He would dress us as Santa on Christmas when we were little.

Chicago Marathon 1988
Chicago Marathon 1988.
Uncle Tom is #5232.
He was also a very private person. After he passed away, my mom and her siblings were going through his things, lots and lots of Army stuff, but they also discovered all of his "running stuff." Race bibs. Pictures. Marathons. The Army National Guard Running Team.

My mom and I went through his running stuff together recently. He ran the Chicago Marathon quite a few times. Including the very first Chicago Marathon in 1977. Running is in my blood, from both sides! (I have many cousins on my Dad's side who run, including one who is a triathlon coach - hi Judie!)

My uncle isn't the only one in my bloodline who has battled cancer. His mom (my Grandma) lost her fight in 1990. His dad (my Grandpa) survived cancer in the 1950s.

A few years ago, I got involved with the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life program. Personally, I've probably raised around $2,000 for the ACS. As a team captain, we've probably raised an additional $2,000. As an Event Co-Chair/committee member, I've helped my event raise over $400,000 for the fight against cancer. I even promised to cut my hair if I reached my fundraising goal. Why? I want to fight back against this terrible disease. I'm not a scientist, so this is how I can do that.

I participate in these events in memory of Tom and Grandma, but really, I run for this person:

3 Generations of Schwartz Women
the one in the middle
I run for my mom. I thank my stars that she has never had a cancer diagnosis. But I understand math. I know the risk. Both of her parents had cancer. Her brother had cancer. Sure, they were all different types of cancer, but it's still f-ing cancer.

So I've decided to run the 2012 Chicago Marathon for the American Cancer Society, because of this (from their web site):

As the largest non-governmental funder of cancer research, having spent more than $3.6 billion on cancer research since 1946, we’ve played a role in nearly every cancer breakthrough in recent history.

I can sit around wondering "Will my mom get cancer someday? Will my kids lose their Grandma when they are 8 years old, like I did?"

Or, I can run. And use my running to raise money. I can fight back. So I am.

Stay tuned ... I'm planning to do some raffles for those who donate to the ACS on my behalf. I'm trying to find stuff that I can get to give away - I just ordered some ActiveBands on clearance with a discount code, so that will probably be my first giveaway. I'm also trying to hit up my friends who have something to donate - a photography session, free ballet classes, art, crafts, knitted goods, etc. Stay tuned! And if you would like to donate something to be raffled off to raise money for the ACS, send me an email. Thanks!

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