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  • On Path to New York City Marathon

    Posted on July 7th, 2014 Michele Sun No comments

    July 1st, I kicked off my 18 weeks training for NYC Marathon, and I want to make it to the start line and finish NYC Marathon this year more than anything else.

    After yesterday’s 5ml shake out run, someone in Versailles  congratulated me for logging in my 500th activity on RunKeeper, and it amazed me all the kudos and supports I receive from runners far and near. My running buddies in SF Bay Area always watch over me during our runs, and out of state/country runners have showered me with nonstop morale support that I constantly have to look up Google map to see where on earth the awesomeness comes from.

    Last year I found out I got into NYC Marathon in April, and that was the happiest moment in the first 100 days of a quite sucky year. For couple months I was nursing physical and emotional injury, and I missed lots of trainings in May and June. July came and I got terribly sick and my training just never really took off, and both mileages and pace were pathetic and disappointing. My 18 weeks training became 16 weeks, 14 weeks, and I was even thinking about run/walk NYC Marathon when I started having problem with breathing in Aug. But it had never crossed my mind that not going to New York to run my dream marathon.

    Unfortunately life threw me a curve ball that I was spending more and more time going to doctors and labs in Sept, and on 9/27 I got admitted into ER and after countless tests, two surgeries, PET/CT Scan… very unexpectedly I was diagnosed with gynecologic cancer that turned my whole world upside down and changed my life in so many ways. And very sadly I had to cancel my travel plan and 50,740 runners started NYC Marathon without me. No one could imagine how frightened I was with all things going on in my life at that time, and NYC Marathon became a far fetched dream.

    Every doctor visits were (and still are) like waiting for lottery result, and what’s the odd of me being the lucky one this time? I often thought about the run that I didn’t get to run, and the runs that I possibly will never get to run. I missed what come with running, the sense of freedom, joy, friendship, accomplishment and most importantly being healthy and fit. I wasn’t sure if I would ever get to feel normal again, and how long would it take to have my life back? Or if I wanted my old life back at all? I pondered on those thoughts….

    Thur Dec. 12, I got a big padded envelope from NYRR and I found a note card, NYC Marathon bracelet, finisher shirt and a medal. I got a shirt and medal for a race that I would have and could have but never make it to the start! With tightening throat and teary eyes I read the message from NYRR and their wishing me recovery well and come back to run NYC Marathon again. I was so touched and moved by their classy action and encouragement, and my will and hope of running NYC Marathon was even stronger than before.


    One does not simply just show up and run a marathon, especially it’s the NYC Marathon, the largest marathon in the world and a preeminent one. Runners all over the world want to be part of it, and I am so fortunate to have the chance running it. “I need to take responsibility and properly train for it,” I told myself couple weeks ago. After spending some time researching for training program, I got frustrated after finding out that my predicted finish time would be 4:53 based on my current fitness level and most recent speed! I could not believe this very sad discovery.

    My friend talked to me about “adjusting expectation and goal,” and it took me a while to face and accept the reality that I am just not the same person as before and I can not compare current me to past me. My best friend told me that “Michele, this is a new life after cancer struck you, and this will be your first marathon in this new life.” With their reasoning me, I shook myself out of the depression and told myself to be OK with being a “newbie runner” and revisited the drawing board again for my training program.

    So I ditched the very engineered training program, and will follow a more loosely framed training program without pushing for a target time/pace. And instead of pushing for PR, I will focus on “injury free” running and enjoy every run I get to run. There will be different distance and type of runs, cross training, trail runs which I love, and rest day that I deserve. But I won’t wake up in the morning thinking “oh, I need to do 6ml at 9:45 min/ml pace today” or “time to run 4x600m at 9:15 and …” etc. The plan is to be strong, be positive and run happy! I will run to kick cancer’s butt, and by kicking cancer’s butt I am going to run better.

    People often told me that how inspiring and how strong I am, but what I really wanna say is being strong is the only option I have in this tough journey. Last night I looked at my running logs and surprisingly found that I have logged 411.3 miles since last Nov, and I have completed four (4) half marathons and one (1) 25K trail race since Feb of this year. I have also devoted my time as a Training Captain for the Team in Training as my way to support finding cure for blood cancer. Running is becoming so much more than before, but at the same time less pressure as I no longer fixate on one goal — pursuing my PR; I am running just because I can. It’s an awesome feeling to wake up and thinking “wow, I can and I am going to run today!”

    There is this secret wish list that I would like to check off one by one, and couple ones were accomplished thanks to support of my friend. Some I cannot do it on my own, and I hope with collective efforts it will happen in the very near future for I no longer plan things too far ahead. Three (3)  months is the life cycle for the next 4 and half years, and I am treating it like having 4 birthdays every year! So, for the next 117 days, no matter how slow or how weak, I am determined and going to focus on my training and get myself ready to stand at the Start of NYC Marathon, and rock that 26.2 miles strongly in the greatest city of New York on Nov 2nd.


    “The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race, it’s to test the limits of the human heart.”


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