I’ve been trying to be really good with my training. Even when I’ve had to repeat C25K runs, I’ve made a point of each time I go out making it to my goal distance. I run/walk about 3 days a week, sometimes 4, with at least 3 days of strength training work, usually focused on my core and leg muscles that should help me avoid injury. I also make a point of stretching really well almost every day after my workouts. The two times I haven’t, I’ve at least done some basic stretches to try to make sure I feel better the next day.
Usually my goal distance is four miles, even if I have to walk the majority of the distance. I chose that distance because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t barely dragging myself over the finish line for the Below the Belt Stride & Thrive. See, a 5k is just over 3.2 miles. The few times my goal distance hasn’t been 4 miles, it’s been 3.5 miles. It’s not that I’m an overachiever, I just really don’t want to fail in May.
I didn’t make it to 4 miles today. I tried Week 2, Day 1 today. I had repeated Week 1 because I was really struggling to run all 8 one-minute running spurts. I was exhausted before I even started today, but I was determined to try and confident that even if I didn’t run all of the 90-second spurts, I’d run at least part of all of them. I barely ran half of them before having to stop trying to run. I barely walked to 2.2 miles. It took me 45 minutes.
I was almost in tears while walking. Up until the point where I realized I was stumbling and swaying on the treadmill I was still determined to make it to 4 miles. Have I mentioned that I’m a pretty stubborn lady? Giving up is not something I do easily, not when I’m really trying. If I have a goal and I’m working toward that goal, I almost always make it, even if I feel like animated death to do so whether it’s a deadline or a workout goal. It’s part of my personality.
Failure is scary. In this case, it was particularly scary because I am terrified of not finishing the 5k in May within an hour (the time allotted by the organizers). Somehow not finishing in time, even that long of a time, has gotten tied up in my head with not fighting my cancer hard enough, not working hard enough to build up my lung capacity, which I feel like I’ll need for the future. Yes, I have a lot of healthy lung tissue now so the bit that’ll be damaged dealing with the biggest lung tumor isn’t a big deal (pun semi-intended), but what about the next time a sarcoma gets to that size? And the one after that? And the one after that? I have to make my lungs efficient so I can handle as much radiation as possible so I can fight as long as possible so I can stay alive for the cure I honestly believe is waiting around some future corner.
My belief in that cure’s future existence is a big part of why I’m attempting this 5K and why I’m fundraising for Hopkins. It’s not the only reason. A lot of it is in gratitude for the amazing care they have shown me. A great deal is because of the incredible hope they provide me for future women who might have to deal with these cancers. One of my oncologists has published about a test that might, in a hopeful timeline, hit the market within less than a decade, and significantly reduce deaths from gynecologic cancers by detecting them much, much earlier.
Despite all that, some of why I’m running and fundraising is deeply selfish. I want to see my beloved nephew grow up. I want to find a way to contribute something wonderful to this world. I want to live. In order to live, I need to stay alive long enough for a cure to be found. I am deeply afraid of failing and not fighting hard enough.
I’m going to do my best to trust my loved ones and believe that not making my goal today isn’t failure. It’s just one bad day that has taught me to take a total rest day on May 19. It’s one bad day after multiple nights of not sleeping well (due to fear, funnily enough) catching up to me. It’s just one bad day. It’s not failure.
I have to trust them that it’s not failure, because this time failure isn’t an option.