"We accept the verdict of the past until the need for change cries out loudly enough to force upon us a choice between the comforts of inertia and the irksomeness of action." -- Billings Learned Hand
My sister did a marathon last Sunday. Many people do marathons so, in and of itself, some people might think this is no big deal. However, it is a big deal! It is always a fine line as to how much to divulge on the Internet but I feel comfortable (as would my sister) in at least "paraphrasing" her life over the past several years so as to tell the whole story.
Several years ago my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. As my mother had died of breast cancer many years ago and Lauren tested positive for the BRCA 1 oncogene, suffice to say she was very worried of what the future foretold. What ensued was a battle royal of surgeries, a few of which were major, invasive ones, and oncological treatment. There were times that my sister's spirits flagged but I never heard her bitch and complain about her condition. Through it all she fought the good fight and was officially declared a breast cancer survivor!
Several side effects were very hard on her even after she was declared to be "cancer free". One unfortunate side effect of her treatment protocol was a substantive increase in her weight. There were conversations with doctors who, more or less, told her that was just the way it was going to be.
About a year and a half ago, my sister decided, for her own personal reasons, that she had enough and wanted to take matters into her own hands and steer the ship in another direction. She started to walk a mile for exercise, which lead to two miles, which ultimately lead to weeks were she walked over fifty miles! She took control of her diet and became meticulously careful about what she ate. Early on, she targeted the Towpath Marathon in the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area of Ohio as a goal. Her speed and mileage increased as the hours of training went by, the pounds came off, fifty of them to be exact, and her mental outlook improved.
Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to witness, on a lovely autumn day, my sister cross the finish line and bring to a close one chapter of her life, a chapter whose theme was about not quitting, about walking towards the light, and about reliance on the unshakeable spirit that resides within all of us.
On the day before my sister's marathon, I was distressed that my buddy Conrad Quesen had to pull out of the Oil Creek 100 after enduring a season ending injury (a sesamoid injury in his foot) and (gulp!) a twisted testicle. Even after the aforementioned and some 35 miles, he told his wife, his son, and me that he had felt strong and ready to go. Having logged plenty of miles with Conrad on Laurel Highlands Trail this summer and fall, I can attest that Conrad was lean and well-trained. Here is hoping for an expedient recovery and a new, determined focus for 2012, Conrad.
In other news, I went to see the Cirque du Soleil in Pittsburgh last Friday, courtesy of Sarah and Conrad, and was treated to a wonderful show. While I'll confess I was skeptical at first beforehand, I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed it! The athleticism is stunning and the music was riveting. Go if you have the chance ...
Autumn is here, my favorite time of the year, and with it comes some wonderful trail runs and leaf peeping. This morning, Tad and Maria took me over to Swallow Falls State Park in western Maryland. It was GORGEOUS! I did an easy six miles and was treated to waterfall views, aspen turning yellow, and a couple of deer poking through the hardwoods. Since Leadville in late August, I have really enjoyed taking a mental and physical break from training for a few months, and reconnecting with work, people, and nature.