I inherited my father’s sense of direction, or lack thereof. We were always getting lost on car trips, or as he would call it, “taking the scenic route.” But to me getting lost was really no big deal because he always had a map and we always found our way…eventually.
When I moved to California in 1999 the first thing he bought me was a Thomas Guide, and boy did I need it. (These were the days before GPS.) Things like, “turn west” or “go north” meant nothing to me. Telling me to head towards the ocean really confused me because I’m from the east coast so heading towards the ocean could mean the Atlantic or the Pacific as far as I was concerned. Yet life moved on.
Then I got a call from my mom while I was at work. My dad had stage 4 kidney cancer and was going in for surgery. He didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink, he looked healthy. We were in no man’s land because kidney cancer is so rare and there aren’t many treatments.
And I was lost and I was scared because what do you do when the person who always has the map is gone? I was powerless to help him. But I had to do something. So I ran a 5k race benefiting cancer research and gave him my number with his name on it. He died in 2002. Now I run marathons for him.
I’ve raised over $100,000 for cancer research since I started running with Team in Training/Leukemia Lymphoma Society. I’ve been on marathon hiatus because my kids are small, but in the future I plan to enter the lottery to run the NYC Marathon . It will be fun to run through the streets where he used to work, pass by the restaurants where we used to eat, remember the times he came with my mom and brother to see my crazy Off-Off-Waaay-Off Broadway shows in Alphabet City during my actress days.
If you are reading this blog chances are you are a mover and a shaker. You’re not sitting in a cafeteria eating your tuna and complaining about your job. You’re challenging yourself, you’re learning new skills, you’re showing your determination to get fit. A lot of you have said that you don’t think you can run a half or full marathon. But I bet you can.
Finishing a marathon takes perseverance. Not just physically but mentally. You don’t just start out by running 26.2 miles. You take a step. And then another. And then you cross that finish line. If I can do it, I bet you can too.
You see I’m not an athlete, I’m just a woman who misses her dad and hates cancer. I hate cancer. I hate that my dad missed out on the big things: my brother graduating with his masters degree, growing old with my mother, meeting his grandchildren. And I hate that we miss out on the little things. Like watching TV together, discussing politics or discovering some new place on the road that you never would have found if you hadn’t gotten lost.
Whatever your fitness goals, I hope you run to them.
P.S. – Happy birthday, Dad. I miss you.
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