I hadn’t planned on running this Saturday morning.
I had managed to exercise in some capacity Monday through Friday and felt justified in taking a break. But late Friday night, this post popped up on my local Moms Run This Town (MRTT) running group’s Facebook page:
Last month my husband was diagnosed with stage IV esophageal cancer. It’s metastasized to his liver and pelvis. Like everyone else we were living our life when everything came to an abrupt halt. I still have many days when I feel like I have been hit by a Mack Truck. There’s no cure and average life expectancy is 12 months. We are doing everything we know how to extend life. So far the spiritual battle for Greg has been more powerful than the physical but we know that’s coming also. He started chemo last weekend and it was rough. The Pile the Miles for Greg this weekend is super important for me and my family. Please, please, please run, walk, swim and take pictures for Greg this weekend. I am going to plaster his page Team Greg with this love. Let’s show him some serious BAMR love. We have four children who need to see this love and support. Thank you ladies!! (Reprinted with permission.)
In case you haven’t heard the term before, BAMR stands for Bad Assed Mother Runner. I don’t know if anyone outside our Vienna/Oakton, VA, MRTT chapter uses it, but we all own it. We not only own it individually, we lift each other up with BAMR energy.
There was simply no choice but to run Saturday morning, since I would be travelling the rest of the weekend. I didn’t know the woman who posted the call to action (our MRTT chapter has grown from less than 200 when I joined three years ago to over 1,000 women today). She wouldn’t have noticed if my name wasn’t on the Pile the Miles for Greg tally list.
But having received a cancer diagnosis myself and experienced the total breakdown of my physical and emotional strength following my mastectomy in 2009, and, even more importantly, reading her words “”The Pile the Miles for Greg this weekend is super important for me and my family,” I laced up my shoes and headed out at 7 am.
Though I had been a solo runner for the first three years of my running journey (which began when doctors told me cardio exercise would reduce my risk of breast cancer recurrence), I now usually run with a group of like-minded BAMR sisters who feed my soul while we sweat through the miles. If I can’t make it on their schedule, the dog is my running partner.
But my short-notice decision to run for Greg left no room for planning. I even decided to leave the dog at home so that I could run without distraction (my one-year-old golden retriever Apollo delights in bolting after squirrels).
I stepped outside and discovered it was raining. I almost turned back. Again, they would never know! But I remembered my BAMR friend Ike’s mantra: there is no bad weather, there is only bad equipment. It was also a balmy 49 degrees. I had trained through the winter for my first half marathon a year ago in temperatures so cold our water bottles froze.
Suck it up, Martha.
I went back inside, grabbed my neon yellow rain jacket, and drove to my starting point on the W&OD trail. It’s good I didn’t let the rain talk me out of going, since it only lasted about five minutes into the run.
I ran “naked,” meaning no headphones, no electronics, nothing to distract me from the experience. Fresh morning clouds, a flash of red cardinal, a family of silent deer blending into the brush. I may not have noticed them if I hadn’t been running solo (though my BAMR sisters would probably have spotted them too).
Remembering the days after my mastectomy when I was so weak I could barely dry my own hair, I thanked my body for healing. I thanked my 52-year-old knees for being pain free. I thanked my strong back. I thanked my heart and lungs for powering me through 3 1/2 miles without an extraordinary amount of effort.
I take none of these things for granted. It could all change at any moment. Health is fleeting. Time is fleeting. I could never fully appreciate my strength until I lost it.
As I ran my miles for Greg, I channeled all of this strength, health, gratitude, and presence into the atmosphere, hoping it would reach Greg’s family and lift them up.
MRTT has taught me that we can collectively share our energy with others. It’s not something I merely “believe.” I have experienced it first hand.
So please do what you can to run, bike, walk, swim or otherwise Pile the Miles for Greg, using the hashtag #teamgreg if you’re posting on Facebook. Thank you!!!
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