With the recent Thanksgiving holiday and the impending winter holidays, the time for reflection on the prior year is upon us. I’ve been wanting to write this for a few weeks now but have had mixed emotions since this has been simultaneously the most memorable and volatile year of my life. This year I bagged my dream job, met a wonderful woman, and finally graduated school before I turned 30, probably the most significant thing I will do with my life. Sadly, this year we also lost our friends Ben and Gil to their passion while in Peru. I miss them and think about them often, although I am even more saddened to say I never got to know Gil as well I could have. This year I also was diagnosed with bladder cancer. On my 30th birthday. I was rather shocked and disappointed.
I am happy to report that I am cancer free for now. The final pathology staged the cancer as a papillary transition cell carcinoma , which is the least bad of the bladder cancers and the best news for which I could hope. However, that still means I have an 80% chance of recurrence and a 20% chance of progression to a more invasive type. About 8 weeks have gone by since the cancer resection and I’m happy to have gotten the ok to return to full activity a few weeks ago. I had been restricted for a total of 6 weeks to a completely sedentary level of activity, although I only had to miss 2 days of work, and was at my wits end.
My cancer diagnosis and its implications have had quite an effect on me. Being the patient was novel and unsettling as I’m usually on the other side of the healthcare system. The experience has also instilled in me an understanding of the privileges I had been enjoying and taking for granted. Working is a privilege. Exercising is a privilege. Playing in nature like we do is a privilege. Not having pain is a privilege. Health is a privilege. These are things I cannot take for granted anymore.
This being Pullharder, I’ve decided to exercise another privilege I may not have in the future: setting a goal. One thing I had always promised myself was that I would run a marathon, but I have always deferred. And let’s be honest, I’m not built to be an endurance runner. I would have an easier time training to bench-press 400lbs. With this diagnosis, I feel like I can’t push my marathon goal back anymore. On top of that, I can’t help but think back to one of my last conversations with Ben before he left for Peru. Karen and I ran into Ben in the parking lot outside of a restaurant and we chatted for about a half hour mostly about running. The things I remember most about that conversation were the passion in Ben’s eyes discussing endurance running and his inspirational words for both Karen and me. He was full of encouragement for us and was looking to share with us a spark of his running fire.
Well it worked since I’ve decided that a fitting goal would be the LA marathon on 3/17/13 with a time of less than 4:20. The LA marathon has always been the premier running event on the West Coast for me, probably since I grew up there. I’ve already begun training and am amazed at my distance and time gains already. I’m always looking for training partners and runs so any tips would be appreciated. Mostly, I’m using this: http://www.marathonrookie.com/marathon-training.html although I’ve been surpassing their distances for these first couple weeks. The coming weeks will contain some busy ones with work that won’t leave me much time to train but I am optimistic I’ll reach my goal. I’m reminded of “It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun.” For me, it will be all fun and I wish Ben were here to see it.