Dear friends & family,
I did it! With your support and love, I completed the Nike Women's Marathon this past Sunday. I can't believe it's over; it was an amazing experience. San Francisco is a beautiful city and what better way to see it than to follow a marathon course. (Okay, there might be a couple other options!) I didn't have a big "wow" moment at the finish line, rather, the reality of this accomplishment has been setting in a little bit each day. This is likely to be a long email so if you'd rather skip to the pictures, I'll understand. :)
Here are some facts from the event:
23,500 total runners
5,400 TNT runners (those that raised money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society)
$3,830- total raised on my behalf for the LLS
$180,000- total raised by my team
$18.5 million- total raised by all TNT teams from around the country!
All these numbers were announced at the Pasta Party on Saturday night. When we entered that party, we were greeted by all the TNT/LLS staff & coaches who were cheering from the front door all the way down the long staircase and into the convention center. I wish I could accurately describe this experience but words and even pictures (see below) fail me. It was the first of many moving moments that would occur that night. We took in all our carbs while pictures of our honored patients scrolled by on the large screens above. John "the Penguin" Bingham (columnist for Runner's World), Joan Benoit Samuelson (1st gold medalist for the first ever women's Olympic marathon), & Amy Bartlett (a recent non-Hodgkins Lymphoma survivor) gave inspirational, motivational, and emotional speeches. It was the perfect way to remind us why we were all there, why we all signed up to complete 26.2 or 13.1 miles the next morning. For anyone interested, you can Amy has a blog worth checking out- ichoosehope.com.
Me In The Midst OF An Overwhelming Greeting From TNT/LLS Staff & Coaches
Me & Jen (My Running Partner) At The Pasta Party
I was up bright and early on Sunday morning and surprisingly enough, didn't feel nervous. Although, by the time we reached the Start Line and found my family, I was anxious to get the show on the road since I was going to be out there for HOURS! We started at Union Square, passed through Fisherman's Wharf, the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, the "Great" (or "Not-so-Great," in my opinion) Highway, around Lake Merced & back down the Great Highway to the Finish Line. My dad, mom, & sister, Melissa, were able to be there for the whole weekend and I'm so grateful! It was great to see them at the Start, mile 3 and at the Finish Line cheering me on. At the recommendation of my assistant coach, I put my name on my singlet and when my family wasn't nearby to cheer for me, many others stepped in the to say "Go, Amy!" I have to say, it was such a help to hear that from complete strangers. There was so much support for all the runners/walkers, you couldn't help but smile.
A Few Teammates & A Coach Outside The Nike Tent Just Before The Start
Coach Doug & Me Waiting For The Start
The Official Start Line
Many of you have asked about the dreaded hills of San Francisco. Well, the 2 largest hills weren't so bad because I was expecting them plus, once we reached the top we were greeted with spectacular ocean views. It was a challenging course and there were more than just those 2 hills but they were smaller so sometimes I didn't realize I was going uphill, I just thought I was feeling tired. Physically, it was difficult. I was hoping to have some adrenaline thing kick in but so such luck. Instead, I had unexpected aches and pain appear at unexpected times. For example, a blister on the ball of my right foot developed around mile 15 and later, I discovered it was actually a bruise with a blister on top. And the last 5 miles, I was fighting some really bad cramping in my left calf, a result of favoring the right foot. Even with these unexpected pains, it was worth it. I finished a freakin' marathon! There were several moments when I thought about all of you. You had supported me and in some cases, told me your stories of leukemia or lymphoma. I had only one commitment, to endure through 26.2 miles. I knew many of you were thinking of me and that gave me the motivation and desire to keep going.
100 Yards From The Finish Line
The Beautiful Nike Finish Line
Theresa, Me & Jen- Teammates Just After the Race
I've learned so much through this experience and I'm so glad that my friend, Rania, dragged me to the TNT informational meeting last May. I highly encourage you to look into training for an endurance event with your local TNT chapters. I am lucky to have had this opportunity to meet so many inspiring athletes, patients and cancer survivors, to raise money for a worthy cause, and to challenge myself like never before. Thank you for your support, encouragement, advice, phone calls, emails, cards, and belief. I couldn't have done this without you, it was definitely a team effort! Thank you for being a part of my team and part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society team.
With love and gratitude,
P.S. I have more pictures so let me know if you would like to see them and I'll send you the album once they are all collected. Enjoy!