I took two weeks off from running after our last team race. During that two weeks my older dog declined and we decided it was time to put her down. I started digging a hole in our back yard. The hard-packed red clay took me all day to get deep enough.
Staring at the hole, death became real. It became a tangible thing in front of me. About three feet down I fell apart. All these emotions of fear, finality, and frustration came to a head. It was something I never thought about before. I had always been focused on death itself not what happens after. What bothered me the most was this hole. I knew where my soul was going and never gave my body a second thought. Knowing one day my body would be down there covered with dirt was a fear I didn’t know existed. Life would continue and my body would be alone. I had a PET scan scheduled for the following day adding to my anxiety and fears. All these emotions I had kept inside finally came out. The physical work forced me to sit with my emotions. It allowed me time to come to terms with these feelings. The week was a rough but forcing myself to deal with some of these emotions has been therapeutic. Unknowingly, I have been holding this anxiety about death and what ifs inside. Finally realizing my fears has helped me to take a step back and focus on the present.
After my scan we buried my Sadie in the back yard. As a family we shoveled dirt. Tears were shed and hearts were broken. My PET scan came back clear. I am still NED (no evidence of disease.) It was hard to rejoice when I know stage four isn’t curable and death was still close by. The following day, as a family, we decided to go camping to escape the house full of memories.
The weather was perfect and we ended up staying three nights. We hiked, biked, swam, and ran. We needed to find healing. Spending time together outdoors helped us heal.
I focused on what I could control. I gave all my love to our other dog, Luca, who has missed out on adventures because Sadie could not walk. We spent time as a family focusing on the present, creating memories to look back and laugh at. I turned my focus back on my training.
Ending a treatment plan is almost just as hard as starting one. The last year I knew what my schedule was. Now, my schedule was open. I don’t have to be at or schedule around appointments, treatments, or recovery periods. I have to recreate who I am and how I see myself. I will always be a cancer survivor but I need to see myself as more. The last year my identity was “survivor.” Now, adjusting to this new season is incredibly hard. This transition was just as hard the last time I did it. Normal will never be the same. Recreating how I see myself helps define my purpose and sets a vibe to how I want to live my life. With a clean bill of health and the fall fast approaching I started running again. It was hot and I struggled but it felt good. Resting is good but my body loves to move. My mind renews on a run. Looking forward in the next season of my life, my new identity will be “runner.”
This week I sat down and created a schedule based off the Hal Higdon Marathon Training- Novice 1. I feel most at peace waking up every day with a plan or list of things to do. My original goal of 32 miles was to run on Labor Day weekend. With more thought on this and consulting fellow runners, I have changed my mind. With the weather still being so hot and the tourists crowding the beaches I have postponed for the best possible outcome. This also leaves room in my training schedule for a marathon race before the run.
This will provide the confidence and extra weeks of training and taper weeks. I am excited and don’t want to jump to the 32 without proper training. I want to succeed. I want to cross the finish line with my head held high and a big smile. My rest weeks are over. Time to get back at it.
New date of the 32-Miles: November 6, 2021