VA 24-Hour Ultra Run Against Cancer (a little long but I hope worth the read.) I’ve dedicated this race to those who are fighting cancer.
When I say I’m going to run for someone I don’t take this pledge lightly. This year I ran for my sister-in-law Stacy Diedrich. In August while Michele and I visited family we found out as she did that Stacy had cancer. For such devastating news, Stacy never let it get to her or interfere with our visit.
I toed the line this year with Stacy heavy on my heart. The first 26-miles of this race went well, I felt strong and more than capable of my second 100-mile finish in three weeks. Then as it often does in life and ultra running it all went away. From miles 30-40 I wasn’t sure I could run another mile let alone another 60+. My legs hurt, my feet hurt and at moments I just did not want to be out there. As the longer nighttime hours of daylight savings time lingered, I wanted to call it a day. Then I thought about Stacy and her family…my family.
How in my right mind could I give up? Stacy does not get to give up, she has to fight for herself and her family. She has to fight for her life. I thought about her, and I prayed. A whisper away from defeat, I set a goal of getting to a double marathon…maybe that would be enough. At 52.5-miles it got a little better, maybe I could get to a 100K. Maybe a 100K would be enough for me and for #StacyStrong. It hit me again…Stacy can not accept halfway, she can’t accept almost. Stacy’s goal is life not close enough. I prayed for strength. Somewhere after 62-miles, I knew I could do it. With a close eye on the clock, I would have to keep moving, stay positive, and stay ahead of the 1 lap an hour goal to reach 100-miles.
With a little help from my friends, pizza, and chicken nuggets things changed. I got to spend a few laps with my running family and I can’t thank them enough. On the outside other runners told me I looked strong, but inside there were moments I was crashing. For 75% of this race, I ran alone as I was never able to link up with my Run4Life team. Lindsey, Katie, Jeff, Wendy, Lewis, Jeff, and Steve…your laps with me came at just the right time. When I needed you guys you there for me.
After 99-miles the sun appeared as I ran out of a wooded section on the trail. As its warm rays appeared over the horizon casting a hue over a small body of water. I did something I never do in a race, especially in the closing miles. I stopped running and called my wife. Hearing her voice on the other end of our digital connection broke me. I told her how I struggled, how I wanted to stop…I told my wife how Stacy helped me and I hoped that my silly little run could help her. We cried…she thanked me for helping her family in this way.
With over a mile to go, I put my head down and got back to work. The finish line never looked so good. I’m so thankful that I get to do this, that I get to run and represent those who can’t, and maybe these miles have helped.
You have all touched my life and made me stronger. I hope somehow I’ve honored you.