Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Why I Sprint

When I started this blog, the name seemed all wrong. I'd always thought of cancer as a marathon. And as a runner, I'm really pretty slow.

But if you took the time to dissect it, our cancer journey was more of a sprint than an endurance event. A crazy, intense, balls-out sprint.

6 months of high-dose chemo. Sprinting.
Dozens of medications, close to hundreds of blood transfusion. Sprinting 
Odds of relapse highest, by far, in the first year. Sprinting.

And sprint we did. Leaving the hospital just one day shy of 6 months. Still in remission at the one year mark, 18 months, then two years. Benchmarks were flying by us.

But even though our cancer journey was a sprint, I was training for marathons and halfs. I couldn't sprint if I tried. 

When I started running, my pace in my hilly neighborhood was around a 12 minute mile (and I was thrilled with that). I completed my first half marathon at an 11:01 minute / mile average. Some people say the seconds don't matter for longer distances. They are lying.

Over the past year I have gradually improved my pace. Some of this has been a by-product of running regularly, getting into better shape. But lately my improved pace has been driven by speed work. On Tuesdays I go out an run 400s. Yes. That's like running laps. While I don't always go to the track, I do run (balls out) for 400 meters, then repeat, then repeat again. It's exhausting. In fact, in the current humid hot weather, it's miserable. But it works.

Thursdays are tempo runs. I start slow and gradually build my pace to a comfortably uncomfortable pace.

Why bother with any of this? I'm never going to win a race. The Olympics don't lie ahead. Even with all of the speedwork, a 9 minute mile is a goal, not a reality. Boston doesn't seem to be in my future.

But I run. I run hard. And I do it because it matters. Each time I run 3 miles even close to a 9 minute pace, the pride is immeasurable.

There will always be faster runners. It isn't about them. Each day I get faster, stronger, better. Cancer may have made me tough, but cancer keeps me there.

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