…And Ends At 26.2 Miles

 

IMG_0013If you would’ve told me five years ago that I would run the NYC marathon for childhood cancer, I would’ve told you that you’re crazy.

Five years ago, I was settling down in Arizona, pregnant with my daughter, Qwynn, with no plans of ever living in NYC again. Little did I know, I would be back in this amazing city, raising two kids, meeting people that would change my life forever, and running the race of a lifetime for a cause that I will never stop fighting for.

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Throughout this journey, I have learned that life is all about connections and timing. I think about the last five years and everything that has brought me to this point…the decisions we’ve made for our family, the friendships we have formed, the loss we have experienced, the stories that have inspired us. It has all lead me to this moment. A moment I will never forget. The moment I finished the NYC Marathon and raised $5,765 for childhood cancer research.

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The marathon journey was just that…a journey. The training was intense and emotional, and the 3 1/2 hour trek to the starting line was a marathon in and of itself. I had to hold back tears the entire trip as I thought about all the kids I was doing this for and picturing my family and friends cheering me on along the way. I had the opportunity to meet some amazing people too, including a guy who was about to run his 21st NYC marathon!

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The energy from the other runners, the view of the bridge, and the sound of the starting cannon were all so exciting. The crowd was simply exhilarating. They carried me so far, and for most of the race I felt unstoppable. Around mile 15, I felt my energy draining. Seeing my family and friends at mile 18 gave me a boost, but by mile 20 I had hit a wall. My mantra has always been, “the more you run, the sooner you’re done,” so I resisted the urge to walk.

By mile 22, I was sure I wouldn’t be able to finish. My calves were on the verge of cramping and my energy was fading fast. It was at this moment that I asked Ronan for help. I asked him to help me keep going. I asked him to take the pain away.

And then I instantly felt shame. How dare I ask this brave little soul who suffered so much to do that for me. How incredibly insensitive for his mother, father, brothers and sister who live through the pain of losing Ronan everyday. I quickly realized I needed the pain. The pain reminded me of why I was doing this and who I was doing this for. The pain was part of this journey. So, I simply asked Ronan to just help me finish.

And he did just that. I FINISHED!!!

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But this isn’t the end. I will continue fighting for this cause because every mother and father deserves to see their child grow up. Every brother and sister deserves to have their best friend by their side. Every child deserves to have a childhood. 💛

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who supported me along this journey and donated to The Ronan Foundation! You are all rockstars!!

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Be Bold, Go Gold!

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Valerie

It Starts With One…

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My first week of marathon training is over and my first long run (it feels silly calling 5 miles a long run considering the end goal) is dedicated to my good friend Emily. It was Emily that introduced me to The Ronan Foundation and the unfair world of childhood cancer. Right after my Uncle Lee died from a long battle with cancer in May 2015, Emily gave me the ‘Fuck You Cancer’ bracelet that I wear all the time now. It was Emily and Ronan’s story that helped put life into perspective for me.

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When I find myself complaining about anything, I think about all the kids who have or are currently going through chemo. When my four year old is pushing all my buttons, I think about the parents who would give anything to have their child here pushing their buttons. If I am having a bad day, I am reminded that there are parents and children who are having the worst days of their lives.

I have also been thinking a lot about Chester Bennington today. Linkin Park was one of my favorite bands in high school. I will always cherish memories of rocking out with my best friend on our drives to and from school. I have always had Linkin Park on my running playlist and today was no exception.

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I was thinking during one of my runs this week…what if we all just picked one cause to fight for? It could be anything. Suicide prevention. Mental illness. Poverty. Abuse. The list is endless. But if we all picked just one thing to fight for with all our might, how much better our world could be.

My fight is childhood cancer. I chose this fight because I am a parent. I chose this fight because I am a teacher. I chose this fight because kids deserve to be kids. They deserve to live. I chose this fight because pediatric cancer is the LEAST funded cancer by our government. This is why supporting organizations like The Ronan Foundation is so important. This is why supporting parents whose children are fighting cancer is a necessity.

My first week of marathon training was harder than I expected. (Guess I shouldn’t have taken almost a month off of running). But then I thought…Children who are diagnosed with cancer don’t get to train before their marathon of chemo. They are just thrown into their treatment, a treatment that is meant for adults. And that’s when I realized it doesn’t matter how hard these runs are. These kids are fighting harder.

Although I know Maya would do anything to have her son back, Ronan continues to live on through me and so many other people. Ronan’s story and others like it are going to change the world of childhood cancer and I will continue to help fight in any way I can.

Thank you all for your continued support!

https://ronanfoundation.org/campaign/3LKRXK4R

Valerie Anne

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I Won the Lottery!!!

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The New York City Marathon lottery that is!

The TCS New York City Marathon is the largest and one of the most popular marathons in the world. Every year around 50,000 people finish this marathon, and exactly eight months from today, I will be one of those people!!

Qualifying for the NYC Marathon is no easy feat. There are three ways to get into this marathon: through guaranteed entry, their charity program or their lottery. Guaranteed entry methods include qualifying by time, getting grandfathered in by finishing 15 previous New York City Marathons, or running nine qualifying races as a New York Road Runners member the year before each year’s marathon. You can also gain entry by running and fundraising with one of the marathon’s registered charity partners.

The final way to qualify is through a lottery drawing. Last year, the TCS New York City Marathon held the biggest general-entry lottery drawing in the event’s 40-year history, accepting 19,083 runners out of 82,172 applicants. That’s still less than a 25% chance of being chosen, and I got in!

I ran my first and only half marathon in Phoenix, Arizona in 2011. It was something I had always wanted to do and I ended up dedicating my run to Hunter Halvorson, who was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH) at just 2 ½ years old. (As of November Hunter has officially been classified as CURED!). I finished the half marathon in 2:03:26, just 3 ½ minutes past my goal, and I was able to raise almost $1300 in donations for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

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About a year and a half ago, my coworker and good friend, Emily changed my life by introducing me to The Ronan Foundation. As a mother, learning about the reality of childhood cancer hit my heart hard. It is a cause I have come to be extremely passionate about and I will forever fight to help raise awareness and find a cure for childhood cancer.

Before I got pregnant last year, I was getting the itch to run another race. I had always said if I were ever going to run a full marathon, I would want to run the NYC Marathon. I knew it would probably be the only marathon I would run in my lifetime, and I wanted to run in a place that meant something to me. I wanted to run in this magical city I have called home for the last eight years. I am not sure how much longer we will be calling NYC our home, so I knew I just had to find a way to run the NYC Marathon this year.

Naturally, I knew I wanted to run for Ronan and all of the other beautiful souls that have been affected by childhood cancer. I realized that in order to do that, I would need to win the lottery. A few days before registering, I went for my first run since Alwyn was born. As I was running, I said a prayer asking to be chosen in the lottery, so that I could run for the Ronan Foundation. I was aware that it was a long shot, but I just kept praying. On Thursday, the day of the drawing, I prayed all day. That night, as I laid down for bed, I checked my email. As soon as I saw it, I was instantly brought to tears. I just couldn’t believe my prayers had been answered. I was beyond excited.

I was also completely terrified. It was hard to imagine how I was ever going to find the time and energy to do this with my plate already being so full. But I will. I will find a way. I am going to do this. I have to. If so many young children can go through everything that they go through to fight for their lives, I can run 26.2 miles for them. I can and I will.

So, stay tuned for my fundraising page and wish me luck!!

Valerie Anne