Two weeks after the BIZZ Johnson Marathon, I was all hyped up at another starting line. There was a group of friends lined up at the start of the Silicon Valley Marathon. I was ready to give it good shot for another attempt to qualify. But I also knew that I might DNF as well. I started out strong and on my target pace. I was tiring quickly and soon I knew that this, too, was not going to be my day to qualify for Boston. My husband, Tom, and the kids were there to take pictures and give race support. My dear friend, Cindy, did the same. I love seeing friendly, familiar faces along the path; it’s so encouraging. One of my friends, Rob, even tried to bring me back to target pace by running with me for a few miles. I just couldn’t hang on to it though. I ran past the 13-mile marker to the track exit to the 2nd half of the marathon and just stopped. I stood there for a couple of minutes before I decided to stop at the half-marathon. Another DNF; this time I wasn’t disappointed in myself. It was crazy to think that my body would be ready for another marathon so soon. My unofficial half-marathon time was 1:58:34.
I was very excited when I read about the BIZZ Johnson Trail Marathon. It was a very different sort of marathon. A trail race that was due to have 20 of the 26.2 miles “downhill”. It was certified as a Boston Qualifier. I was so excited about this race that I abandoned my fully paid registration for the Silicon Valley Marathon and adjusted my training for this marathon
There really wasn’t a race expo. Generally, I love the distraction that an expo offers me the day prior to the expo, so I was a bit disappointed to be out in Susanville, CA with nothing to do. There isn’t much to this town.
The pasta feed, however, had two dynamic speakers. I barely found a spot to sit at this crowded event and began to eat as the race director welcomed us and first speaker was introduced. He was a well-known ultra distance racer. He had slides and short video clips of various races that he’d done. He talked about the advantages to trail running. Afterwards, many of the listeners were intrigued to take on the BIZZ Johnson trail.
The next speaker at the pasta feed was Chris “Z”. He talked about his experience running street marathons. He also had videos and slides of, mostly himself, taken by his wife at various marathons. He talked about the stages of a marathon, the crowd support, and the finish line. He also had sound clips to go with the video clips of the finish at CIM and Boston – which he used to demonstrate the difference between a small and large marathon. Many of us were hyped up and eager to do the race in the morning, hoping to meet our Boston qualification goals. The BIZZ is a certified Boston qualifier after all.
But life can throw some curve balls your way at any time and this was one of them. After the pasta feed my brother called me to give an update on my grandma. Grandma was in the hospital after emergency cardiac bypass surgery; she wasn’t doing well. It seems that the family was to have a meeting the next day to discuss removing life support.
I started the race, but my head wasn’t in it & my heart was elsewhere too. I kept thinking of Grandma and imagined myself talking to her and telling her that it was okay to let go if she wanted to. I told her that if she wanted to live longer that she would need to show some signs of that quickly.
I was half-way through the race when I decided that the BIZZ could be a long training run for Silicon Valley; it was pretty certain that I wouldn’t be qualifying for Boston today. I began to walk every mile for 1 minute. As the race progressed however, the 1 minute became 2 and then more. My hips were hurting whether I walked or ran.
The BIZZ was everything that they said. It was a beautiful, unpaved course with 7 little wooden bridges to cross over and a tunnel too. I finished the race after 4:37:38 and was pleasantly surprised that there was a small crowd in the clearing of runners who cheered me in. They were enjoying the post race refreshments and didn’t even notice my tears. It was time to see if I could get an earlier flight back to San Francisco. Grandma was waiting.
I usually write a race plan prior to each marathon. In doing so, it helps me to think about how I want my race day to play out. It’s more than just the finish line goal; it’s about the whole experience. Putting it down has helped me to get into the right frame of mind for race day. My race plan for Napa Valley 2004 was, by far, the best race plan that I have written to date. It also lead to my best marathon performance so far. I hope you all will enjoy reading it.
On a cool morning in San Francisco I awoke early to dress for the San Francisco Marathon. While Tom & the boys slept, I contemplated on if I should be racing that day. Just 4 days before I twisted my ankle but today it looks fine. I hooked up with a SFRRC pace team & set out at a quick pace. It felt good to run for the 1st time since my injury. We were on target for my 3:45 qualification goal.
It’s hard to know how I would’ve felt had I not lost the pace group. I began slowing pace. Although my ankle didn’t hurt, my foot didn’t feel so great. I just felt funny. By the time I reached the 10K mark I was getting cold & the ”wall” was already coming on strong. By mile 10 I knew I could not meet my goal & miqht be destroying my foot & ankle. When I reached the Half-Marathon point I finished my race & took the bus back to the hotel.
This was the 1st race I’d had the kids at & I was so sure I was going qualify-before my ankle sprain. Tom BoBo & YaYa were waiting at the finish line with the camera when I called. I was crying, but they cheered me up with much needed hugs and a non-fat latte. They reminded me that maybe I could do it “next time.”
Dear Dr. K:
It’s been nearly 6 years since we last sat in your room discussing the prognosis of my late husband’s cancer. In our visit, you informed us that he had a year to live – with or without palliative treatment.
The night after our visit with you, we met with the children and told them the news. He and I were relieved as, based on my previous experience with cancer patients, I was expecting you to tell us 3-6 months max. Much to our surprise, he went downhill fast from there. We soon found out, at an ER visit, that there were multiple notations in his medical record that a hospice referral was warranted once a confirmatory diagnosis was made. He died two week later.
I have done a lot of soul searching and healing since then. The kids, who were angry with us for “lying to them,” have done much healing as well – thank God. Still, I wonder why you didn’t tell us that he had less than 6 months (as hospice would imply) or, at least stress that we had a year at the maximum. Unfortunately, you did not.
I tell you all of this, not because I am still mad. I certainly was for a long time. I am telling you because I feel the reminder is important for all healthcare providers. It is not just about the person who has been diagnosed; it is about the family left behind! Moreover, I write this because I feel that this letter is the one thing left that I need to do for my own healing. It needed to be said – for me. I am sorry that we were not fortunate enough to have even a chance to have you help us fight the cancer. I understand that you are quite skilled in what you do. My prayers go out to you in the efforts you put forth to help all of those who do have a fighting chance.
Thank you for reading.