AF Canyon Run Against Cancer Half- Marathon

A couple of weeks ago when I met with doctors to discuss treatment for my knee, the question was when should I start? Initially I wanted to start immediately, but when I was informed I would need to avoid running for a while, I opted to delay the procedure.

I knew I had the AF Canyon Cancer Run coming up and would need to forfeit the race if I started the PRP (platelet rich plasma) treatment.

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With 100% of race fees going directly toward assisting local cancer patients, knowing my entry was non-refundable, and how much cancer I’ve seen in my life, I opted to delay treatment and run.

I began physical therapy and 10 days before the race, I went out for my first short and easy run. Coach Paul gave strict orders to take it easy and not run more than a few miles each day while continuing to cross train.

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Taking a month off of long distance running despite cross training and then just showing up and running a half marathon is not ideal, but I really had no other choice, because I love this race and it’s meaning.

Cancer has been apart of my life in one way or another for as long as I can remember. Both of my parents, step-mother, grandmothers, several great aunts and uncles, a childhood friend, my mother-in-law, a good friends’ daughter and most recently my husband’s first cousin and a neighbor have all been cancer warriors. Everyone but my neighbor (she’s currently fighting) and parents have lost their battle with this disease.

This cancer race carries a lot of meaning for me. For the last 2 years, I’ve “Raced in Honor” of these loved ones that have blessed my life.

This year I had the privilege to join friends in a local running group to honor the life of Robert Merriman who lost his fight with brain cancer in February.

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Robert influenced everyone in our running community to live life truthfully, to show kindness and above all else, to love. If we all could #LiveLikeRobert, we’d change the world, just like Ghandi said.

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Early Saturday morning I woke up at 3 am and was surprised by sore hamstrings. I realized physical therapy the day before a race probably wasn’t the best idea as I usually rest my legs.

Because I hadn’t gone for a long run in a month, I was worried this race would be extra challenging if I was starting out sore.

At the startling line I located our running group, took some pictures and found the bathroom one more time.

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Such a beautiful sunrise in the canyon
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Our assisted running buddy Reese

Just after 5:55 am, we were off. I felt pretty good with no knee pain until the rolling hills started around mile 8.

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As I hit the first hill, my knee immediately protested and I opted to stop and walk. When I crested the hill, I started running again and was pleased to feel the pain subside. The remainder of the race, I ran the flat and walked the hills to the end. As I ran, whenever I felt pain in my knee, I reflected on the participating cancer survivors sprinkled through out the days different events. I thought about how difficult running would be for them and how much their lives changed forever the day they received their diagnosis.

I thought back to 2002 when I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. The doctors words were a conflict of emotions. I felt grateful to finally have answers as to why I was so sick, but I also felt broken. For 6 years chronic pain and gastrointestinal issues were my normal way of life. As I processed my diagnosis and prognosis, I knew things were going to change but I didn’t how or what to expect.

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Discouraged, I kept thinking wasn’t this supposed to be the prime of my life? Incurable meant a life sentence and I didn’t know how long that would be. For me, the feeling of something indefinite was the hardest part.

If I’m being honest, cancer is the one word the I fear. Crohn’s disease carries an increased cancer risk and taking immune suppressing drugs to treat it also carries an increased cancer risk, especially for lymphoma. Talking to my GI doctors about options, I feel like I’m damned if I do or don’t. For now, diet and exercise are still my best holistic options for Crohn’s disease as I take things one day at a time and look forward to the future, whatever that might be.

At the finish line Saturday there were cheers, hugs and tears as runners for a few brief hours symbolically shared the burden of cancer with the warriors still fighting.

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Running buddy Melissa
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The dynamic Hutchinson father and son team. These guys are both ultra-marathoners

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We all look forward to the day when we can eradicate cancer for good.  In the meantime, there’s never been a better time to #Jointhefight.

A big thank you to Intermountain Healthcare and the countless volunteers that made a wonderful day and successful race possible.

Editors note- In 2018, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people will die from the disease.  Offical cancer statistics here  

 

 

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