In my life I have run one marathon. It was the final leg of the 2004 Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI and it was one of the hardest, most painful things I have ever done. Eight miles into that race my body began to send signals to my brain that it may be time to stop. The communication was gentle, insisting that it was OK. I had made a valient effort and to quit would mean no shame. It was a hard race. People would understand. The great debate between body and mind continued to rage on with each passing step. 18 remaining miles left to run turned to 17. The pain did not let up. Shouts of encouragement rang out from the support crews and spectators. I walked through an aid station sucking down orange slices and bananas. 16 miles left, then 15. I was almost halfway there. Another aid station brought Gatorade and Power Gels. More encouragement from the crowd and I could begin to feel my strength coming back. At the halfway point I knew I would make it. My body still ached but its cries were no match for my spirit now. I ran the remaining miles to the finish with purpose and determination. The next day, as the emotional highs of the race were mercilessly replaced by the physical tole it had taken on my body, I swore to myself that I would never do that again…
On November 1st I will be lining up to run the New York City Marathon. I have not forgotten the trials of the Ironman. One does not easily forget an event that results in the loss of all of their toe nails. Quite simply the pain must once again give way to the greater good of the spirit. I am racing for GrassRoots Soccer and its founder and good friend Ethan Zohn. GRS has done tremendous good in its battle against HIV and AIDS. It was Ethan’s hope that he could assemble a team of runners to complete the NYC marathon as a fundraising effort for GRS and continue the life saving good of the organization. Of course, Ethan’s plan was to lead the charge and challenge the group to try and beat him in the race. That plan changed when Ethan was diagnosed with Hogkin’s Lymphoma. Ethan’s cancer did not deter his efforts. He cycled through Chemo and began training again, fully intent on beating cancer and finishing the NYC marathon in one fell swoop. It was not to be. Ethan’s cancer has spread.
It is mile eight in Ethan’s marathon battle against cancer. He needs our encouragement. As he begins the long, painful and exhaustive process of high dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation, Ethan’s body will be screaming for him to quit. He will be immersed in the internal fight between the weakness of body and the strength of mind. I know he will march on against the challenge of cancer, that in the end he will emerge the victor. I also know the tremendous lift he would gain from a ground swell of support for GrassRoots Soccer and the NYC Marathon fundraising campaign. Please help me provide that lift by supporting my effort to run the NYC marathon and raise $5000.00 for GrassRoots Soccer. Visit my donation page by clicking the link below. Thank you for you time and consideration.
For more information on Ethan and his battle against cancer visit his blog at People.com.