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Yesterday, the two unicorns flanking me ran about 20 hours on treadmills to raise funds for a veterans’ charity. Today, the three of us volunteered at another Move-It Fitness event. Last time Val and I volunteered together, in unicorn onesies, we ended up carrying two little kids. At the start of this race, she turned to me and said she wasn’t carrying any fucking kids.
The course is a 1.5 mile trail loop, and less than an hour into the race, I asked the director if she minded if I walked a loop, just to get out and enjoy the trail. I stopped and cheered for people, and I even ran a few yards, just to enjoy the day. I was standing in a particularly pretty sunny spot, cheering on folks when a bunch of people told me someone had fallen about a quarter mile into the trail, and it was bad. I started walking back, not expecting much. People fall constantly, especially at trail runs, and they usually just bruise their pride. Then a few more people said it, and I called the race director and started walking faster. Then a friend told me it was Val’s husband, and I started running.
Unfortunately, Ryan shattered his ankle, and is now due for surgery. I could tell that things were really bad, and another participant and I tended to him, and determined he needed to start exiting the trail. I told him we could basket carry him, but he insisted on hobbling on his good leg, not realizing that it’s been my dream to basket carry someone off of a trail since I was in Girl Scouts and got my first aid badge. But, we helped him peg leg to the eventual park service 4×4, and got him situated. I very carefully cupped the butt cheek at the top of his non-injured limb, to help ease him into the seat.
Basically, Val jinxed him. By saying she wasn’t going to carry anyone, she was guaranteeing the necessity of someone being carried. Sadly, it was her husband, and I got to do it. I told her we couldn’t be unicorns anymore, because people saw them and just wanted a fucking ride.
The day went great for anyone who wasn’t Val or Ryan, with a lot of people hitting distance PRs in the races, happy participants doing shots of Fireball, and my old coworker who is training for a marathon having his first run on trails! I got to see so many friends, give so many high fives, and meet new people and talk about my advocacy for First Descents. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, I worked hard, I helped, and I met new dogs. The young cancer community and the running community are the two places where I feel the most useful, the most enriched, and the most loved.
This is a great read. My old body, that ran marathons, was smaller. My current body, that runs ultras, is not. Also, that old body had cancer.
This was shared by my cancer friend Moana.
January was a challenge. We spent some of it down a vehicle. I was pulled in many directions with work, side gigs, my fundraiser, and family. I spent a lot of the month indulging in unhealthy eating and sleeping habits. I had to really examine my relationship to sugar and caffeine, and my problems with moderation. I just didn’t feel good.
I need endorphins. I need to find my fitness again. So, tonight, at 11pm, after a closing shift at work, I ran a mile. I’m not streaking again, but it’s time to get back to exercise. I miss it.
In November, my friend Valerie told me that she wanted to volunteer for all of Move-It Fitness‘s races for the upcoming year, and I asked her if she minded if I joined her. She said that it would be amazing, and if today was any indication, it will be.
I’m not into self-help as a commodity, but for some reason I gravitate to The Five Love Languages. It makes so much sense to me. I know that Words of Affirmation is the language I receive and Acts of Service is the language I give, and that’s why I love working at Starbucks. I joke that I get to feel like I’ve done things for people, and they shower me with compliments. This is why I really enjoy volunteering as well. I get to show up, accomplish tasks, feel useful and strong, and then be told how useful and strong I am. The fact that I was able to do it while dressed like a unicorn was icing on the cake.
Val contacted me the night before and asked if I was planning to wear a onesie. I wasn’t until then, but I certainly was after that! Valerie also surprised me with a hat embroidered with the logo of our running club! I didn’t think anything could be more majestic and epic than that, but when we both, independently, started belting out Starship and dancing along with the race playlist, I realized how much more absurd it could be.
A woman showed up at the race, I think, expecting it to be a road type of charity walk, not a trail run, and had two young kids, one in a stroller. It was explained that the trails weren’t accessible, so she said that the youngest would walk.
Nearly two hours later, we were still waiting at the finish line. Valerie and I decided to walk about a quarter of a mile into the trail, and found them, slogging along. I hollered ‘who wants to ride piggyback on a unicorn?’ and Val and I each grabbed a child. The youngest one actually fell asleep in her arms. When we got back to the finish line, the race director told us that we were the best volunteers ever. Valerie told me she was glad I grabbed the larger kid. In that moment, I was told how useful and strong I was, and my heart sang.
I love being a part of First Descents, as both a volunteer and as a participant, because on those trips I feel the most useful and strong that I ever do in life. Please consider a donation so that other young people impacted by cancer can feel that.
In 2012 I attempted a running streak, and only made it to July 31. On that day I discovered I had breast cancer and my double mastectomy was scheduled.
In 2019, I decided to give it another shot, and this time, I did it. I even managed to keep my ass out of the hospital, with the exception of some stitches after taking a helmet to the face while whitewater kayaking in Montana.
Sitting on my couch at 9pm, ready to fall asleep well before midnight, I’m happy and content. I challenged myself, and met that challenge.
Happy and healthy new year to all.