“It’s 26.2 miles. Are you crazy? I’m barely getting used to 13.1!”
That’s what I’d tell myself. Just thinking about it got me exhausted! When I found out my sister signed up for the LA Marathon, I thought she was crazy but believed in her to finish strong because she’s another beast I know. Months would pass and I’d get the occasional “Sign-up for the LA Marathon!” reminder. Again, no way. Never. Shortly after, I found out one of my childhood friends was sick. Not sick as in “I have a cold and/or cough” but cancer sick (Eff you, cancer!). I couldn’t believe it..I didn’t want to..but I naively assumed everything would be ok and we would grow old together.
I made a visit to see my dear friend and it was, I’m going to admit, a little heart wrenching to see how he was doing. Growing up, he was one of the most active, funniest, and genuine friends I ever had. Honestly. Friends like that are super hard to come by so when you find one (or two, if you’re super lucky), do your very best to treat them the very same way. Surprisingly, he was in high spirits and cared more to catch up on my life than his. I could tell he tried to act as if the white elephant in the room had disappeared, which made me see that this kid never really changed: he always made everyone else laugh/smile/be happy. Hearing what he went through and seeing what he was going through made me see that, no matter what, he was going to kick cancer’s butt and definitely not without a fight.
He was a fighter.
So this gave me belief that I absolutely can run a full marathon. I will. With his belief in me, I knew I would be able to push through those glorifying miles. To help relieve a small portion of his financial burden, I created a fundraiser in support of my sweet friend, Chang.
“I’m running a marathon! I’m running for Chang! Let’s support him by donating today!”
So many people showed their support, even friend’s who had never met him before. I was able to raise $180 (or was it $185?), which I know is such a tiny amount compared to his (I’m sure) unimaginable medical bill but it was enough to put a smile on his face. Actually, he’s always caught smiling so it was just the icing on the cake. I gave him the money shortly before Thanksgiving and, though he was smiling, I could tell he wasn’t doing so well. I had to jet back to work and he had somewhere to go so I quickly gave him the money, a great big hug, a smile, and walked away. You know how a person’s memory fades but never forgets a person’s scent? I miss his scent.
He fought and fought until the Heaven’s above decided it was time for him to rest in peace.
I was angry. I cursed at every Higher Power. I bashed every religion. I kept asking myself “WHY?” For the slightest moment, I even imaginatively asked him “Why did you leave? Why didn’t you keep fighting?” I knew, in the back of my mind, he was at peace and that was all that mattered now. He had been fighting for a long time and, sometimes, fighting becomes unbearable and life takes on another route. I was relieved for him but still very unhappy. I even considered not running the LA Marathon anymore.
I was running for him. He was my support. He’s gone so I have no reason to train for the marathon anymore.
I took a week of seclusion in my room. I don’t remember if I ran during that week, if even for a day for a short amount of time, but I remember being mentally gone. “Karolynh has mentally left the building. She’ll be back in..TBD.” One evening after the week had passed, it finally clicked that I can’t not run the marathon. I signed up, people were rooting for me but, most importantly, he was rooting for me. He believed in me and whenever anybody believes in me, especially when I don’t believe in myself at times, I feel it’s necessary to show my appreciation by trying my very best. The next day, I laced myself up and hit the pavement. I was running for him and I knew he would be there, right next to me, throughout the 26.2 mile course. He was a fighter and
I’m no quitter.
Stayed tuned for Part 2 of this post..
keep on running!