Monday, January 24, 2011

Keep Focused by Marie Ferrell

TNT coaches Ed and Marie Ferrell
Keep focused. You will hear it often but what does it mean? For me it use to be all about getting to the finish line, but lately it has changed. I have gotten much more confident in my running. There is no question that I will finish a race so now I can focus on bettering my time. After all, I have had a string of good (for me) half marathons including one where I fell down at mile four, got back up and finished just short of my best time.

So as I prepared for the Donna Half Marathon I had nothing to worry about, right? Wrong!! I was feeling a little sick on race morning, but I always get a little nervous so this was normal. I started out okay but as the miles progressed I felt more and more sick and weak. Was this just my head getting to me? Everyone must face the fact that at some time prior to or during a race your head is going to tell you that you can't do this. It lies! Maybe this was my only problem. Nope, my head was still telling me I could set a new pr. However, my body was telling me that if I ran one more step I was going to be sick. So I started walking. This was not at "Marie, the walk coach" pace but rather at "that lady you can't get around at the mall" pace. It is at this time focus becomes critical. You concentrate on getting past the next group of spectators, to get to the next water stop or maybe even to get up to that cute puppy so you can stop and pet it. In my case I began to think about Rutger Beke. Who is Rutger Beke you ask? He is an Ironman. For those of you who don't know about the Ironman Triathalon it is a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a full marathon. I think anyone who tries this is amazing and Beke is one of the best. He came into the 2007 Ironman World Championship confident. After all, he was wearing the number 4, denoting what place he had finished in the previous year's event. Race day proved to be very rough for many of the leaders. Several had to drop out, some throwing temper tantrums as they did so. Beke did well in both the swim and the bike and was in contention for a top finish. Then came the marathon and as he said his legs "just wouldn't fire". So he started walking. He was passed over and over again by "age group" runners and he accepted their encouragement graciously with a smile and a wave. One older lady passed him and encouraged him to run with her but he had to say "you are just to fast for me".

He kept his focus on the finish line and when he finished hours later than expected and in 188th place, the smile on his face looked much like it did in 2008 when he came in 3rd at the same event. My smile could have matched his on that Sunday. It would have been so easy to quit. I hadn't raised money to get to the race, no one was counting on me and at mile ten I passed my hotel. I finished, 43 minutes later than I planned, but I finished. Much like the people we run for, I didn't quit and compared to what they go through on a daily basis, this was easy. So focus on the finish line and much more importantly focus on why you are doing this. Remember one of my favorite phrases, "Run, Walk or Crawl. Just Finish!!!"

Marie Ferrell is a TNT alumna and coach. She first joined TNT in 2007 for the Country Music Marathon in honor of her sister Julie. TNT is a family affair for Marie. Her husband Ed is also a coach and she is currently coaching her nephew Dustin (Julie's son) for the 2011 Publix Georgia Marathon.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year Brings New Language by Dani

Dani and her daughter at the 2010 Light The Night Walk
Last year’s language was the jargon of doctors and hospitals. Even the joy of discovering we were once again pregnant was overshadowed by the fear of whether or not my body would be capable of handling the stress. Last year’s language was that of a soldier in the trenches; attempting to lighten the situation by looking up and saying “well at least the sun is out.” My words of last year were my saving grace that created a language that brought me catharsis and human connection.

I am grateful that we have the opportunity to change our voice and create new words, new language, and new life. I look towards this year so differently than I did the last. Last year I was scared of what stood before me. Our future was uncertain. This year I have no more answers than I did last year; nor guarantees of anything. What we have is hope, faith and a little good news to set us on our path.

As the New Year rolled in I was overwhelmed by emotion. I looked to my future and I saw my husband and I growing old together, two little children playing with one another, family dinners, date nights where Mike and I try not to talk about some cute thing the kids did but just cannot seem to refrain, scrapped knees, first bikes, broken bones, broken hearts, family pets, bedtime stories, family vacations, “five more minutes,” road trips, kindergarten, grade school, high school, college visits, caps and gowns, weddings and more babies. I looked to my future and I saw my loving husband by my side, my beautiful children, my family, my friends. I saw hope and joy. I did not see cancer. Over the last year and a half, I often wondered if there would ever be a time when cancer was not a thread that wove its way through my every thought. The moment finally came.

I am sure that in the months and years to come, as PET scans and blood tests are due, there will be a breath of fear that grazes my cheek like a soft breeze. However, in this moment I was not only cancer free but free of cancer. They say it takes the body a year to recover from chemotherapy. They do not pontificate on the time it takes one’s brain or soul to recover from the experience of cancer. This hope for the future was my first real indication the healing has truly begun. The fortuitous thoughts coupled with prenatal hormones were too much for one healing soul to bear and I laughed as the warm tears streamed down my cheeks. Entering the New Year with tears of joy; I can think of no better language.

Happy New Year to you all and I hope your 2011 is filled with the language of love, peace and laughter, thank you for your continued support and love.

Dani, a non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor, was the 2010 Summer triathlon team Honored Hero. Thank you for sharing with us Dani. You are our inspiration!