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A 10K And A Whole Lot More

This weekend my husband and are once again participating in the Fargo, ND Marathon. No, we aren’t doing the marathon, (my amazing daughter is though!) but we are walking in the 10K event.  We participated last year as well. Initially, we decided we were not going to take part this year. Back in January when we first started discussing the possibility of participating again I said, “No, I don’t think I want to do it. It will bring back too many painful memories. I’m not interested. I’m not ready.” Last year I walked in this same event mere days before my bilateral mastectomy –  less than a month after my diagnosis.

Well that was then and this, as they say, is now.

A couple of months ago I changed my mind. I want to participate again. I want to prove to myself I can still walk a 10K, but more than that I want to complete another circle, and it’s not a physical ability type of circle. It’s not so much this particular event or this particular distance.  

Yes, I want to prove to myself I am still physically able to walk a 10K despite my recent surgery, despite the neuropathy in my feet, despite my Arimidex induced achiness, despite challenges from reconstruction, despite my slower pace, despite cancer, despite a lot of things. But it’s more than that. I want to prove I am mentally up to the challenge as well. I want need mental closure here. I’m not even sure if that makes sense, I can’t quite put my finger on it or determine exactly what to call it.

Last year at this time my mind was not in a good place. My bilateral was looming. I didn’t know if I would need chemo or fully understand the reconstruction process. I was terrified about many things, too many to even mention here, but still I managed to walk that 10K. If I did it then, with all that heavy baggage weighing on my mind, surely I can do it now, right?

I even discussed this need of mine to participate in this event before scheduling my last surgery. “Will I still be able to walk in the 10K?” I asked my surgeon more than once. He understood and assured me I would be able to if I felt up to it when the time came.

I do feel up to it, I think. 

Participating in this event makes me realize how important the mind/body connection is in cancer recovery. We need to recover mentally as well as physically from cancer (although I do not believe you totally recover physically or mentally) and sometimes the mental recovery is a whole lot harder and takes a whole lot longer. I know this 10K is only one tiny component of my recovery, but it is an important one. I also know I must be ready to accept, if in fact, I find I cannot finish the walk. I will need to be OK with that as well.

It’s more about the goal, the effort, the trying.

How many times have I said stuff like that to my students and own kids over the years?

Another fellow blogger, Julie Goodale From Fitness For Survivors, recently participated in a race called the North Face Bear Mountain 50-Mile Endurance Challenge. Julie is a ten year breast cancer survivor. She wanted to do something really big to mark her ten year anniversary as a survivor. I think she did! Even the name of the race sounds daunting to me. I cannot fathom walking such a distance! Check out her recent post about her amazing experience. The great thing about Julie is she encourages others (like me) to set small attainable goals for ourselves too. Julie understands and thinks our smaller goals are just as monumental as her own loftier ones.

And then there is a fabulous recent post about adapting, adjusting and accepting by ChemoBabe called “A View From the Back of the Pack.” Actually that’s pretty much been my vantage point my whole life in this kind of thing, so the view from the back of the pack is not all that new to me!

Finally, Cancer Free 2 B also recently wrote about running a 5K and the challenges doing so presented to her. She persevered her way through various aches, pains, doubts and actual hills to contend with; in Fargo, ND there aren’t so many any hills! Yay!

I will think of these women and others this Saturday when my husband and I put on our walking shoes, when we are asking ourselves “What were we thinking?” and when we hopefully cross that finish line. I will also think about the women (and men) too sick from cancer to walk anywhere and about those no longer here at all because in the race that truly matters; the race against cancer, as cliche as it sounds it really is “all for one and one for all.”

Mostly, I will be thankful I am here to participate in such an event, no matter how it turns out.

I am hoping it doesn’t rain AGAIN this year though and the forecast isn’t sounding too good.

I’ll let you know how it all turns out…

Have you participated in a 5K, 10K or marathon?

How do you challenge yourself mentally or physically?





18 thoughts to “A 10K And A Whole Lot More”

  1. Good for you! I’m proud of you! I hope all goes well. I’m not much of a goal setter. If it sounds like fun, I do it. The one race I walked in was for the children and homeless in Commerce City. Whole families were living in their cars, going hungry because they didn’t have a can opener for the food they were getting from food banks. The one race I trained for, my Doctor told me I couldn’t go as it was forcasted to rain and if I got a cold I would have to start radiation over.
    So I’m very proud of all of you, wallking or running!!

    1. Betty, Thanks for being so supportive! It’s hard to imagine people living in their cars and not having money for a can opener. Walking for that cause must have been very rewarding. Good for you! Totally understandable why you couldn’t do the other one. No one would want to start radiation over. I am walking by the way, not running. Thanks again, Betty.

  2. The mental part of the cancer thing can be harder than the physical, I think doing a 10K is a great way to help you get some mental closure, it is like coming full circle. My husband and I have talked about doing the same thing. I think doing a 5K or 10K after going through treatment is kind of like snubbing your nose at cancer…it’s like saying you didn’t defeat me…I won! Go for it!

    1. Garden Lady, You are so right about the mental part being really hard too, in some ways even harder due to the mind games cancer plays constantly. Let me know if you decide to do a 5 or 10K. Thanks for your supportive comments!

  3. I did participate in a 5-K run the day before Easter and blogged about it late last month. The experience was exhilarating, as I proved to myself that I was still able to participate in this challenging event despite two bouts with cancer. I am so glad, Nancy, that you decided to do this. You won’t regret it. And when you cross that finish line, you will feel like a queen.
    You go, girl!

    1. Jan, Thank you for your support, it means a lot. I remember that inspiring post! I guess that’s what it’s all about, proving to myself I can still participate. And feeling like a queen, that would be nice!

  4. Nancy you have every right to feel chuffed about the preparation and your willinginess to participate. Everything begins with just one small step and you have done so much more.
    Congratulations and my best wishes for your success on the day.

    1. Chez, Thank you reading and for commenting when you have so much going on yourself. I appreciate your support and hope you are getting the answers you need.

  5. Nancy, I hope this went well for you and I can completely understand why you want to do this particular ‘challenge’ – physical activity is important to me too… something about feeling well enough to take on the challenge both mentally AND physically after all the stuff you’ve been through.

    1. Sarah, Thank for your good wishes. It did go pretty well, I’ll be posting about it tomorrow. There definitely is a need to set both physical and mental challenges, as long as we also stay realistic and don’t expect too much. I guess that’s true, cancer or not!

  6. Nancy, I can’t wait to hear how it turned out. I hate being on the treadmill, but find inspiration thinking of others that can’t walk as fast or I think about proving to myself I’m still capable despite, as you said, cancer. I also like to think cancer can’t win over fitness. I know of course, that’s not necessarily true, but I like to imagine cancer running scared.

    How did it go???

    1. Stacey, Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have a treadmill too, but prefer to walk outdoors this time of year. I like the image of cancer “running scared.”

  7. Good luck at the event, and kudos to you and your family for tackling physical challenges!!

    I used to be a runner (a slow one, but a runner nonetheless). I used to run a 5K every week for about three years; I ran one 10K. Always came in at the end of the pack, but I didn’t care. Like you said, it’s amazing how many people do not have the energy to do this, and I thought of this often.

    After my double mastectomy with reconstruction, the pain associated with it didn’t allow me to run. I cried a lot when I realized — after years of attempts — that running could no longer be my sport.

    So now I’m an avid walker and swimmer. I swim an hour a few times per week and walk — like speed walk — and find the same endorphins as I did when running.

    I enjoy staying active….

    1. Beth, Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Wow, you were and still are an athlete in my book! I’m sorry you had to give up running, but walking and swimming are great ways to exercise too. I envy capable swimmers. I’m sure you get lots of exercise keeping up with your daughter too!

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