Racing for a cause

It's never the case of will I race again, but rather when. Chicago Marathon registration launched just two days after I finished running Austin, and I definitely considered it. But having experienced everything that Austin -- a large race with a small-town feel -- had to offer, I decided my next race wouldn't be in a big city.

I think it was the Livestrong charity fluid station that solidified it for me. My family had been dealt the blow of fighting cancer this year, and it wasn't the first time. The thought of miles to run, by choice, was nothing compared to the journey a cancer survivor is forced to take. Here I was feeling my best --healthy, fit, and ready to race -- how could I not give it everything I had in me? It seemed to matter more here than anyplace else, in the city in which Livestrong was founded.

It gave me the chills when I slowed for water, and a seemingly endless row of volunteers in yellow T-shirts, wearing yellow bands (like the one my dad wears 24/7) called me by name.

All the more chilling was the news I'd heard the night before: a friend's mother had passed away after a long battle with cancer. It made me angry and thankful at once. It made me consider why I run in the first place: to feel invincible; to challenge my mind and body to keep it together; because I can.

I felt so lucky that I got another day to fight for a cure, so I donated in the name of my friend's mom, I donated in the name of my cancer-surviving dad, and I donated because it was something I could do instead of worrying about all the things I couldn't.

In the morning, I was nervous, but it could’ve been worse. During the race, it wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as hard as it’ll be next time when I want to PR again. And over 26.2 miles, I had more than enough time to think about how the Livestrong Foundation had begun and how it had become a household name. And when I looked at myself in the mirror before and after my race, I felt a little bit better being the sweaty, medal-wearing marathoner who was not nearly finished yet.