Many people have inquired about my recent adventure to Seattle to participate in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.  Through my efforts with Team in Training, and because of very generous donations by my friends and family, I raised $3,723 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Wow!

This is my story:

My trip to Seattle was perfect. While I’m not much of a “bucket list” type person, I do recognize a once in a lifetime experience. This was one of them.

The idea hatched from a simple, yet somewhat careless New Year’s Eve resolution, or “revolution” as my six year old says. Swaying proudly in the kitchen, waiving a glass of champagne around in royal chalice form, I boldly proclaimed that I would run (okay, mostly walk) a half marathon. Dismissive looks from my husband were swift and plentiful.  That only made me more determined. If you know me, you know that you shouldn’t tell me that I can’t or won’t do anything. Willful defiance has always been a big motivator for me. He firmly denies such looks, but I know what I saw.

And so my journey began.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has always held a special place in my heart. In 2001, I lost my Uncle Gene to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. His absence has since left a large and noticeable void in our family. After his passing, the society has managed to cross my path on numerous occasions. I can only take that as a sign.

Training for this event was fun. It was also tiring. It was exhilarating and it was sometimes very wet. I met fascinating people along the way. Folks that were so giving of their time, money and support to the cause. Folks that inspired me to be a better person.

So off I went to the Emerald City, filled with lofty goals, high hopes and a slightly higher stamina. The weather was perfect for such an adventure. Clear and crisp. There were about 12,000 participants, but somehow it didn’t seem that big.

The air horn blasted at a deafening decibel, and we were launched into the streets of Seattle.

I was pumped like nobody’s business. The first three miles were a breeze and I was unstoppable. My friend and running mate, Heather, kept cautioning me to slow down, but you can imagine how that went (reference “willful defiance” above).

At mile four, a very unfortunate-smelling young man appeared in our pace group. It was bad. I mean, really bad. Seinfeld quotes of “BBO” were discussed at length.  And while not normally used in adjective form, “tacos” is probably the best word to describe the air bubble around him. Fortunately, there was a majestic view of Mount Rainier to help keep us distracted. But just barely.

Mile seven greeted us with a long stretch of (very) large American flags, waived about by a motivational cheering squad. The energy radiating from this patriotic crowd of onlookers was palpable and helped propel me forward. Still feeling pretty good and enjoying the beautiful views, I shuffled along, humming Lee Greenwood’s Proud to be an American.

I started to get a little nausey around mile eight. It came out of nowhere, really. Maybe it was the energy jelly beans I had just eaten. Or perhaps it was the half a block of cheese I consumed for breakfast. Who can say?  But the unfortunate timing of it happened just as we began our 1,400ft trek through the Mount Baker Tunnel. I didn’t care much for feeling trapped inside a mountain with little circulation and decades of exhaust fumes. So that, combined with the impending threat of vomiting, threw me into a bit of a panic. Luckily, we lost Taco Boy a while back. I was able to avoid an embarrassing scene, pick up my speed, and hightail it out of there.

Miles ten and eleven were very quiet for everyone. As I trudged on, my legs got heavier and my feisty disposition faded into serious questions about my sanity for embarking on such a foolish venture. It was then that I really called upon higher powers. I also used this time to think about everyone that I had lost to cancer.

I fondly remembered Uncle Gene, and all the times he would school me on good nutrition as a teenager:

“You need to eat your green beans,” he would say. “They’re full of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D,” and on and on he would go. I remembered his disapproving frowns when I would order two servings of mashed potatoes in place of the broccoli. And I chuckled as I imagined him scolding me from above. “See? You should have eaten some fruit this morning instead of that big chunk of cheese.”

As we reached mile twelve, my spirits and my pace picked up considerably. Energizing rock music surrounded us, and the crowds of cheering fans grew in both size and sound. It was like that feeling you got when you’re just exhausted from boogieing on the dance floor all night, but then the DJ plays your favorite song and you get some new disco energy. The exact same rush.

The finish line emerged over the last hill, and the enormity of my accomplishment hit me. I did it!  Six months of determination, hard work and blisters paid off.

Tears streamed effortlessly from my eyes. At that moment, Heather grabbed my hand, as if she could hear my thoughts. We looked at each other and crossed the finish line hand in hand, accomplishing more than we ever thought we could.

Once we crossed, they gave us our medal and promptly herded us up (another) hill and out of the way. I guess to make room for the five remaining participants that were left on the course. We were greeted with water, fruit cups, slices of bread, and chocolate milk.

Wait, what?

Nothing sounded grosser, at that particular moment in time, than chocolate milk. As I approached the young girl thrusting a brown bottle into the air, I heard her shout “Get your chocolate milk here! Full of vitamin C, vitamin D, folic acid, everything you need!”

I smiled.

And I drank the chocolate milk.


My Experience with the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

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