Too many times I've almost hung up the racing shoes for good. I didn't run a step due to a knee injury that kept me on the elliptical bicycle and in the pool for eight agonizing months in 2011 and I'm two years removed from a cancer diagnosis that nearly ended my athletic career. I've fought back from several cases of depression, taken a lot of criticism, and ignored a lot of negative people in my road back to where I am today, all for a chance at marathon glory on Nov. 8.
It might seem silly to put so much mileage, time and effort into one moment, but this isn't just one moment, it's the moment I've been waiting for for five difficult years. This isn't a life or death situation, but it means a lot to me.
In 2011 I was struggling with that knee injury that kept me away from the sport for eight months. At the time the Santa Clarita Valley Marathon was happening. Things didn't look good, and honestly, I thought that was end of running for me, but I remember turning to my best friend, Jessica, one day and telling her, "I'm going to come back and win that race some day." At the time I didn't know that knee injury would last eight months, and I certainly couldn't predict my cancer diagnosis. This race is all about a promise I made to myself five years ago; it's about the journey, which looked bleak far too often; and it's about my entire support system because without all of you I wouldn't be dreaming at all anymore.
This is a lot different than when I debuted in the half-marathon two years ago too. I know what it's like to compete in a race longer the 8,000 meters I was used to from college or the 3 miles I ran in high school. I know what it's like to hurt and what it takes to succeed in the longer races. Guts, perseverance and heart are just a few things needed to conquer the distance thrown at you. Of course racing 26.2 miles is nerve-racking no matter how you look at it, but I told a couple of my training partners, Ryan and Jacob, the distance doesn't scare me the most. Getting to the starting line healthy does.
I know this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because your good health is never guaranteed. Cherish it because you never know when it'll be gone. I pray to God every night I make it to starting line this time, just for a shot at a win in the SCV Marathon on Nov. 8. I also carry that white rosary I found the night of my cancer diagnosis everywhere I go not just as a reminder of everything I've fought through to get here, but in hopes it'll bring me good fortune every day.