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Monday, April 6, 2009

Mind Over Matter

Today I find myself confronting all of the crazy emotions that have been running through my head.  I believe that reality has truly set in about the fact that in two weeks I will be running my first marathon. Back in October, I struggled with the idea of running 13.1 miles, and now that these months of training have flown by, I am once again confronted with the same emotions.  This time, though, I am trying to grasp the fact that it is not 13.1 miles.  Who is crazy enough to run 26.2 miles?  I guess I am.

The main emotion I feel is uncertainty due to the fact I have been training with a silly injury.  How did fluid get into my knee anyway? I can not explain how strong the pain can get, but this is something I have learned to deal with with the assistance of my incredible physical therapist.  I make sure that I perform specific stretches and ice my knee on an everyday basis. And we can not forget my dear friend Ibuprofen, for if it were not for this incredible medication, training would be far more difficult.

I am nervous.  I am eager.  I am exhausted.  Above all, I am determined to get to the starting line in the best shape I can.  I have been working towards getting my legs strong enough to get me through the race. It is a fear of the unknown that has honestly been getting to me lately.  I am concerned that I will begin to feel pain in my knee somewhere between miles 5 and 7, but it could work out different.  As a result of an extreme adrenaline rush I will surely experience, I may not even feel the pain, which I am truly hoping will be the case. 

"Mind over matter. Mind over matter."  These words play in my head every day and I know will continue to do so throughout the marathon.  I realize that willpower can overcome any physical obstacle you may be confronted with.  When you have an important goal, but have an obstacle in your way, it is imperative to not let yourself down and overcome, overcome, overcome!

I remember last year I would give my sister, Lindsey a hard time, ALL the time.  She would talk about the marathon constantly, and if we happened to get off topic, something about the marathon would manage to sneak its way back into the conversation.  It was crazy to me then, but now, I truly understand why she did this.  The marathon has completely taken over my life.  It is the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about before I fall asleep. The reason for this is because I am so proud.  Every year since I was little I would go watch the marathon with my Mom, Dad, and Linds.  It became a tradition to watch it in the same spot in Wellesley, and soon enough my grandmothers, aunts, and cousins were in on it too.  I never quite understood why people chose to run such an insane amount of miles, but even when I knew this, I always wanted to be one of those crazy people.  I always wanted the historic Boston Marathon written in my book of accomplishments, so I could look back and say, "yeah, I ran Boston. What did you do"?

The amount of motivation I have to get myself through to the finish line continues to amaze me.  I can not help but think about my Auntie Nancy, who has given me the courage, strength, and determination to get me through these months of training.  Aside from Auntie Nancy, my inspiration also comes from my 6-year-old Patient Partner, Jaden Cabrera.  He instantly stole my heart from the minute I met him.  Jaden was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma, an uncommon type of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma that commonly affects children.  Today, Jaden is in remission.  During my miles of training, I think about this enthusiastic and warm individual who gives off such incredible energy. I admire Jaden's strength and bravery, knowing that he has been through far too much as a child.  At the end of the day, Jaden still has that beautiful smile on his face, which makes this journey for me all the more worthwhile. I am extremely proud and humbled to be running in honor of this courageous young boy.  He too gives me the strength, determination, and courage I need to get me through 26.2 miles.  Knowing that Jaden, his mother and father Jenny and Jose, and his sister, Talia will be at the mile 25 marker, will get me through to that point.  Seeing all of the other Patient Partners and Dana-Farber cheering teams will also motivate me to get to the finish line.

Although I am nervous, eager, and exhausted, I am also strong-willed, and to be honest, this is what I need to accomplish my goal.  In 13 days I will face the biggest challenge of my life, and I am ready for this.  This marathon means EVERYTHING to me.  For all of my friends and family that have shared in this training experience with me, I want to make them proud.  I want to represent Dana-Farber in a proper, well-deserving light. The institute provides treatment, hope, and love to individuals in need.  Most importantly, I want to make Auntie Nancy and Jaden proud, since these two individuals have motivated me to reach the ultimate finish line: A World Without Cancer.

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