Monday, December 9, 2013

The Race that Never Happened

The journey to my second marathon is a story, I tell you. It starts with registering right after my surgery in June. I put it on the calendar as a goal. A way to remind myself that my body was capable of lots of things. I got excited about it and started training as soon as I was cleared to run.

Fast forward through months and months of training.  Better training than last year, in fact. E and I were pretty confident we could beat last year's time. And even better? Our team was raising more money for St. Jude than we ever had before.  Our first year there were four of us and this year we were up to 19. The funds kept pouring in and we were so excited for the Mizzou Maniacs to have a fun, productive time in Memphis to benefit St. Jude and introduce new team members to this great race and amazing hospital.

Well, right before Thanksgiving I got bronchitis and started to get a little nervous about the race. But I was hellbent on running. I was going to run NO MATTER WHAT. Because I am stubborn as a mule very determined.

We packed and were ready to go Thursday. This is our 5th year running this race so we have a pretty good game plan. E and I head to my parents' house the night before and then we all travel together early Friday morning. We started on the roads to my parents' and an hour in, we slipped, slid, and turned around to go home. We had high hopes of going Friday but couldn't make any decisions.

Friday morning we hemmed and hawed but eventually decided to get going, along with my brother, his girlfriend, and best friend. I'll spare you the details of our harrowing journey. Bottom line: It took us way too long, it was way too scary, and we arrived late to the expo to get our tickets to the fundraising banquet. Right as we arrived, they canceled the race. Perfect timing.

Trees down the street from the expo. Long travels mean I had a dead phone for the banquet.

I won't lie. Tears. They arrived. I didn't shed them but they welled up in my eyes. All that travel and we weren't even going to get a chance to run. But Rick Shadyac, the fundraising CEO for St. Jude, was sadder than I could ever be. He stood on that stage and very apologetically explained that 30% of their volunteers had already canceled, as well as 15% of their medical staff. Branches were falling all over the city and Tennessee was in a state of emergency. The wise thing to do was to cancel the race. And so they opened beer in the back of the ballroom and we all understood. Mostly.

We went back to the expo to grab some St. Jude gear (can't have enough of that!) and saw the coolest SUV with the names of every HERO (fundraiser) on it. Check it out!

Pretty neat, huh? While we were at that car, I ran into a sweet patient. Miss J is a teenager who was in chemo for a brain tumor last year during the race. She brought a team from her small Mississippi town this year and her team was so bummed to miss the race.  We commiserated together as she told me about her story. St. Jude began to treat her tumor but then referred her to the premiere specialist to remove her tumor. This specialist happened to not be a St. Jude doc. So when the bill for almost $90,000 arrived, the family was overwhelmed. But...because St. Jude referred them to that hospital, they paid it. Every dime.

Keycard to our hotel
This is why we run.  This is why we traveled through the snow to get there. It didn't matter that the race didn't happen. Miss J is so appreciative of St. Jude. And she thanked us for being there. Wow.

Since we didn't get to run, we put on our jerseys and headed down to Beale Street to enjoy some jazz at B.B. King's. 

cute parents!

No, E is not wearing his jersey. Because for some reason they didn't have one in his size. But cute St. Jude shirt, right??
We woke up Saturday even more deflated. But we put on our gear and headed to the fundraising lounge. There, lots of people were milling around, eating, taking pics, and commiserating about all the training that ended in a cold, frozen weekend. At least we looked cute.

We sat down next to a St. Jude family and Sweet C. told me his story. He's been a St. Jude patient for 13 years. He has his own team and even invited us to join. We promised we'd find him again next year.  He thanked us for his hard work and told us story after story of how much his family appreciates St. Jude.

This is why we run. Or don't run. This is why we love St. Jude.

CEO of the Fundraising arm of St. Jude, Rick Shadyac
When we finished our time at the lounge, ran by the stadium. It was icy and reaffirmed why they didn't have the race.

But they did give us a finisher medal. Getting there was accomplishment enough. So we said thanks and wore our medals with pride.

Check out all that ice!

We went to Rendezvous, our after-race tradition, and enjoyed some ribs.

Then, we geared up for a sad game. And that's all I'm going to say about that. Here's our team watching the game:

So you could say the weekend was a bust. But I just can't say that.  My supporters raised more than $1,000 and our team, jointly, raised $11,264,73. That, my friends, is a big deal.

Special and overwhelming thanks to each of you who donated, wished us well, prayed for us, and encouraged us along the way.

Will we run another race to make up for this one? We haven't decided. We'll have the opportunity to apply our race fees to another marathon. But that means continued training in the cold. So for now we're going to get in the holiday spirit and decide about the race later.

Either way, St. Jude hasn't seen the last of us! Next year we'll have bigger fundraising dreams and a point to prove. We'll be back, Memphis. You haven't seen the last of the Mizzou Maniacs!!

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