The Road to Chicago
|The Great River Road - one my Dad's favorite places to go.|
I haven't run on roads in 2+ years.
After December 2014, I abandoned my relationship with road running and pursued my new love interest - trail running. Since then I traversed my favorite skyline, ran across the Grand Canyon (and back!), over four passes, slot canyons, and new peaks.
Yet, here I am seven months away from returning to the roads of Chicago. And, apparently the internet.
That's a great question, and one I keep asking myself. To put it bluntly, returning to pavement sounds awful. It reeks of injury, boredom, and fear. But, there are reasons that are much greater than me.
My Mother-in-Law (we're practically common law at this point).
These people near and dear to me all have one thing in common. Cancer.
I lost my father to lung cancer in 1999 at the age of thirteen, and found running a few years after. It helped me to process and compartmentalize the pain. It helped me to make sense of it all. It helped me to reduce stress and anxiety. It helped me to cope, and it still helps me to this day. It's a gift, and it really is cheaper than therapy.
When you watch cancer erode someone's body, you feel completely and totally helpless. You want to take on the world, but you don't know where to start. In 2005, six years after losing my father, I came across the Chicago Marathon and the opportunity to run/fundraise for the American Cancer Society. I was nineteen, clueless about training, and yet it took all of maybe two seconds to click the registration button.
This was my chance to help! To try to push the science behind treatments forward. To play a teeny tiny role in cancer awareness/prevention and to help fund free programs that help cancer patients; like free rides to/from treatment, free lodging, free wigs, free house cleaning, and many more complimentary services that help alleviate some of the monstrous weight that cancer puts on one's shoulders.
I could finally DO SOMETHING. I could actually step into the ring and put cancer in the sharpshooter (at least in my mind I could).
I ran for my dad that day, and met so many amazing individuals that year, and had such an outpouring of support from family and friends who have also been affected by cancer, that I returned to the ACS/Chicago Marathon to fundraise in memory of my father in 2006 and 2008.
I thought 2008 would be my last year.
It was my first month on the road, we were watching March Madness at a bar in Salt Lake City, and I got a call that my mom had been diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. An aggressive cancer that cannot be treated with hormones or estrogen. If you know my mom, she is the sweetest lady on this planet. She will do anything for anyone before she even remotely thinks about doing anything for herself. She is our rock, our sole survivor, our EVERYTHING. And yet, here we go. Round II.
Thankfully after major surgery, breast reconstruction, 8 rounds of chemotherapy + 28 radiation treatments, she gave cancer the middle finger. She has since reached the five-year mark for being cancer-free which is a HUGE milestone for those affected by triple-negative breast cancer.
I returned in 2012 to run/fundraise in celebration of my mom, a CANCER SURVIVOR.
With living life on the road, never having a routine, I thought this would probably be my last Chicago Marathon for awhile.
You guessed it.
Until the end of 2012/beginning of 2013, when Casey's mom was diagnosed with breast cancer while Casey's dad was in the hospital fighting for his life (I wish I was making this stuff up). With so much gratitude, I am happy to report his dad conquered many obstacles and pulled through, and his mom was deemed cancer-free after surgery to remove the tumor.
We've been on tour during the month of October every year since, but I have some unfinished business. I have yet to run in honor and celebration of my second mom, Cari Garms, and I don't care if I have to negotiate it into my contract or if I lose money in order to do so.
This year I'll be donning the American Cancer Society singlet once again,
in memory of my father,
in celebration of my mother,
and in celebration of my mother-in-law.
If you or your family have been affected by cancer, please join the fight. Click on this link to donate directly to the American Cancer Society. All donations are tax-deductible and help to fund lifesaving research, treatment, and care.
Thank you to those that have supported my family and Casey's family over the years, it means the world. Every single one of you gives us hope that together we can end this. That we WILL end this.