My Perfect Marathon ... sort of!
If you have found this page, I'm guessing that you may already know part of my story. For those that do, you can skip the next couple paragraphs or you can join those that don't and read on. I realize that fundraising right now is a bit awkward because I know how many people are suffering and struggling as a result of Covid and everything that goes with it. If you aren't in a position to be able to contribute, please don't feel bad. I'll take all the prayers and well wishes I can get. If you can contribute, please know that you'll be helping a population of people that is very inordinately affected by Covid. Lung cancer and Covid is not a combination any of us want to experience, especially me. So, now that we have that out of the way, on with the story.
If you had asked me in October 2018 if I thought I'd be writing about doing a triathlon, I would have said you were crazy. That's not going to happen. You see, back then I was lying in a hospital bed, post lung removal surgery because of lung cancer, struggling to take a walk down the hall and back. I had tubes in my chest and it looked like a shark took a bite out of my back. That walk down the hall felt sooooo far! I was pretty well convinced that my days of having an active lifestyle were done.
I remember lying in my bed at home during my "recovery," watching the highlights of the 2018 Hawaii Ironman race with tears in my eyes thinking, "well, that is never going to happen now." Under the circumstances, it seemed truly laughable that the thought ever crossed my mind. Of course, since I was someone who just beat lung cancer, I was pretty much just feeling lucky to be alive. I knew things were definitely going to be different now. I might as well just relax and become Mr. Couch Potato. No one would blame me for that. Right?
But I have never been one to be content to do nothing. My family has always been so active. As I got better, I couldn't just sit there. I've watched my wife and daughters do amazing things. How could I settle for less? I felt this almost compulsion to try to do something at least. I looked for exercise programs for people like me and I couldn't find anything. I asked my doctors and they said, "do what feels good." I said, "what if nothing feels good but I want to try anyway?" They didn't have an answer for someone like me. I guess they don't have many post-pneumonectomy patients asking for running programs! I was pretty much on my own. So, I started my rehab with walking. At first, my wife, Heather, and I would just go down the block and back using hiking poles. Then it was around the block. Then to the park where I could go a little farther. I started going back to the gym and trying to get stronger. It was a very slow process. Chemotherapy didn't help! Through the process I lost 30 lbs and I wasn't a very heavy person to begin with. Well, a year later, chemo was done and things were stable and Heather said we needed to go do something big and hairy to celebrate our one year post-cancer anniversary. So we got on our bikes and rode... and rode and rode. We didn't really know where we were going or even how far, but we went. 40 miles later, I thought, forget this lung cancer stuff, I'm going for it.
So, that's when I set the goal to do the Santa Cruz Half Ironman Triathlon. We saw signs for it on our bike ride and Heather said, "maybe that's what you shoud do!" I thought, "yeah, right (in a very sarcastic internal voice)!" Then I thought, why the heck not? Even if I don't make it, I'll be a whole lot better off for having tried.
So why am I doing this? Well first, I want to show everyone and especially other lung cancer patients that a lung cancer diagnosis (or a lung removal) doesn't have to mean the end of an active life. It may feel like it at the time but it doesn't have to be. Life is different on the other side but it's not over. The human body is an amazing thing and when combined with the human spirit we can accomplish amazing feats. We can be survivors who don't just survive, we LIVE!
So, I signed up to train for and complete the Santa Cruz Ironman 70.3 race on September 13, 2020. Along the way, I committed to raise funds for the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer. They are a great organization that supports lung cancer patients just like me. My goal is $7,030. Get it? Ironman 70.3, $7,030? It's an audacious goal for me athletically and financially. Any money I raise will help to support programs for early detection and better care for future lung cancer patients just like me. So, maybe they don't have to lose a lung as part of their treatment. Maybe with a couple more scientific breakthroughs funded by the GO2 Foundation, the standard of care will evolve to the point where treatment is possible while still maintaining a full and healthy set of lungs followed by full and healthy lives. That's my hope. That's our goal.
Then came Covid and Shelter in Place. Really? So much for going to the gym. Ugh! So much for riding my bike. Dang. Pools? Forget about it. This just isn't meant to be. Well, I don't give up quite that easily. I set up a home gym. I put a bike trainer in our shed out back (thank you for the loan Ken Lucchesi). Heather and I went for long runs by ourselves keeping far away from everyone else. I kept training. Then they cancelled the race. Oh for Pete's sake! All this trainng for nothing? My running friends and family wouldn't have it. The GO2 Foundation said, "we'll support you no matter what you do!" They made this My Perfect Marathon program for people who had their fundraising marathon events cancelled. Not getting off the hook that easily after all.
So, I'm going to do it anyway, without the race numbers, without the pasta feed, without the aid stations, without the announcers and finish lines and medals. It wasn't about that anyway. For me, it's about getting to the starting line, not the finsh line. Once I get there, I've already won no matter what else happens that day.
I came across a quote not long ago that I think is perfectly apropos to this situation. It's from Hubert H. Humphrey. "Oh, my friend, it's not what they take away from you that counts, it's what you do with what you have left." I have turned this into my own personal version which goes, "It's not how much lung they take away from you that counts, it's what you do with the heart you have left."
So, please help me support the GO2 Foundation For Lung Cancer by making a contribution to my fundraiser and sharing this page with your family and friends and anyone you think might be interested. Every dollar I raise will advance GO2 Foundation For Lung Cancer's great cause!
And on September 13th, think of me out there swimming 1.2 miles in the Pacific ocean, riding my bike 55 miles up and down the California coast and finishing with 13.1 miles of running in the trails outside Santa Cruz. It will be a long day and in the end, it won't really matter whether I make it the whole way or not. I've already won!
Below is a link from Charity Navigator that gives the GO2 Foundation high marks for it's charitable efforts and financial management. FYI, GO2 is not providing me any training or race support in this effort. Ok, they are going to give me a t-shirt and a couple other things to wear but that's about it! All the rest of your dollars go straight to the foundation to help fight lung cancer.
Together, we can make a difference!
My Perfect Marathon Blog
The GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer (a merger of the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and Lung Cancer Alliance) is the ‘go-to’ global force serving and advocating for the needs of the entire lung cancer community.
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