Cindy Lovelace: Perseverance over Performance (Walk, Run, or Support--Zebras do it!)

My goal is to start and finish the race. The idea of a 13.1 mile race (Half-Marathon) is pretty daunting. If you’ve never done anything like that before, even 3.1 miles (5K) sounds intense.

Last fall when Cindy Parcell brought up the idea of inspiring fellow Zebras and their friends to join her for the Rock N Roll Marathon in Nashville Spring 2017, I immediately said “I’m in!”. It was not because I’m some elite runner, or even a decent Saturday morning neighborhood jogger. I admittedly like challenges, and I love it even more when people come together to achieve things. I think that’s how we are meant to live. My life is also focused on the commitment made when Dr. Eric Liu and I co-founded Healing NET Foundation—to help neuroendocrine patients get the best and the right care. While it’s important to run the organization to the best of my ability; I also feel a responsibility to be a role model. I can run for those who can’t, and inspire others to do the same.

However, let’s put all the cards out there. I knew in the back of my mind that I had trained and finished an entire Marathon course once before. I was also inspired by “Coach Cindy”. She’s a patient and she runs these races all over the country! Now, she told me her “Panda” team was not leading the pack, but my enthusiasm might have slightly blinded me to some new realities.

When I did that marathon in 2002, I was 15 years younger, I had never had a cancer diagnosis, and I was about 20 pounds lighter. So, when I laced up the running shoes and started in on Cindy’s suggested training schedule back in January, reality set in. My body had changed.

The first reminder was the stretching. I had fallen behind on my yoga exercises, and I needed to stretch…a LOT, before and after. If I didn’t, I’d be hobbling through my day. Then, I was dismayed that one mile on the treadmill was exhausting, AND I was just doing a slow jog. However, I kept going, and even when travel and a respiratory infection interfered, I just took up where I left off and kept plugging away. I didn’t beat myself up over missing a day, or not completing the suggested number of miles. It really reminds me a lot of fighting cancer. From my first cancer diagnosis in 2005 (breast) to my second one in 2011 (neuroendocrine) I’ve always had the mindset to just keep going…ride out the storm…try to keep one step ahead of the beast.

The beast played a big card recently when my husband and I went on a family trip, and we had the opportunity to participate in a 5K. It was fun and in a tropical place, and I was training…so why not! During the race, the neuropathy I’ve dealt with ever since chemo treatments with my breast cancer, reared it’s ugly numbness and pain. My feet felt like dead weights. I had been doing a combination fast walk/run and during the run part, I stumbled a couple of times. I decided then that it was not worth the risk of a fall to push myself to do something that my body just can’t do. However, it doesn’t mean I quit. I find a different way. So, I power walked the rest of the 5K, using mind focusing tricks I learned in my first marathon training. It wasn’t pretty or graceful or fast. I just finished the race.

So, my training is now focused on my walk. I can do a 15 minute mile, and even if I’m not up to that speed on race day for whatever reason, I still have some grace to finish the race under the four hour maximum. It doesn’t matter what place I’m in, or how many people pass me, or how athletic (not) I look. I’m just going to take it a mile at a time, and I am going to start and finish the race.