Well... Here we are.
In June, I'll venture over to the Atlantic coastline to meet up with a group of complete strangers... Dip our toes in the ocean... Hop in a couple of vans... And begin running over 4,500 miles from sea to shining sea. Maryland --> California. Sleeping on gym floors, wooden church pews, and the occasional luxury... Carpeted floors! We'll wake up well before the scorching summer sun to beat the 110 degree heat limit, ask complete strangers in every new town for food to make it 4.5 thousand miles, and use our two legs to wander to the other side of the country almost two months later.
Seems tough, right? It is. It can be.
But when I think of what that word "tough" means, I don't think of running anymore. I think of Miss Dottie, the most love-filled soul I ever met... Who took a months-to-live diagnosis and turned it into over a decade more of life. Who fought for so many years to be there for her family, showing joy and pure love until she passed from brain cancer. I think of Pastor Steve, the toughest pastor I know... Who showed absolutely unshakable kindness and faith even after the cancer spread and this life he lived was coming to an end. I think of how "tough" Val, Maria, Sophie, Soph, Liz, Mary, Schuyler, Meghan, and all the others have to be every day to cope with watching a parent die because of this awful disease. I think of the next door neighbor who fought it and continues to win, as 2-weeks-to-live has turned into years. I think of the family who spent Christmas huddled around a hospital bed to spend time with their father whose fight is coming to a close. I think of our LIVESTRONG ladies, cancer survivors, some of whom show up to class soon after chemo treatments. I think of how they show up and put in work, even as they fight back tears of weary hearts. I think of all the endless waves of family, friends, and spouses we all have who are forced to face that horrifying C word directly, and still have the courage to punch it in the face.
THAT is tough.
So I run.
Because I can.
Because it's the only way I know how to show pure gratefulness for the simplest of opportunities... Just to live this beautiful life.
I run because it'll be tough, and we need to do tough things so that other people can see the tough times and decide that they can be tough too.
This is for the toughest people I know.
Who make all of us around you watch in amazement.
As you take on the toughest challenge imaginable.
You are the tough ones.
Keep being tough.