On October 2, I’ll be running the Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota, my second marathon of the year and third race with a DetermiNation team (Boston and Indianapolis were the others). One of my favorite parts of running with DetermiNation is getting to meet my teammates from around the country in person. In many cases, I’ve “known” some of these people for a year or more through conversations on Twitter or Facebook. Other times, I meet new people at our team dinner or in the tent before or after a race. And some times, my first encounter with a fellow DetermiNator is less direct. Today, I’d like to share one of those acquaintances with you.
I first “met” Nathan Brown on August 23 when I received the weekly e-newsletter from Adam Layne, the American Cancer Society staffer who runs the DetermiNation program in Minnesota. Every newsletter has a “Runner Spotlight” that features one runner and the story of why he or she is running with DNation. Nathan’s story was short, but it moved me. With Nathan’s permission, I’m repeating his story here:
In May of 2010 I had the worst day of my life, my wife Elise was diagnosed with grade 3 brain cancer. Since her diagnosis, Elise has undergone brain surgery removing 70% of her right frontal lobe, after surgery she did 6 weeks of radiation with adjuvant chemotherapy, following all this she did an additional 12 months of higher dose chemotherapy. This past July she had an MRI that revealed her tumor was stable so her doctor is giving her a break from treatment. As of now the cancer that Elise was diagnosed with is not curable it is a disease that she will have to live with. This is why I choose to run the Twin Cities Marathon as an ACS DetermiNation runner. This is why I am raising money for the ACS, I want to do anything I can to help other people who’s lives have been affected by cancer. CANCER SUCKS! What Elise has gone through is something that no person on Earth should ever have to go through and endure. I am honestly inspired by her everyday, as of today she is starting her 2nd year of Law School at the end of August; she worked part time this summer while taking 2 summer classes; oh, and did I mention that she finished her 1st year of Law School while she was doing her chemotherapy treatments.
This will be my first marathon, the training is everything I thought that it would be; tough. No matter how much I suffer through those long runs I honestly believe it is nothing compared to what Elise has gone through. That is what motivates me through my training, just thinking of how many people are affected by cancer and how many lives it is taking away from us. I am running the marathon in honor of her and I just hope that this will inspire some of my fellow DetermiNation teammates to push you through the last weeks of training and the marathon. I want to take this time to thank the committee members and everyone on the team for what you are doing you are truly changing the course of cancer.”
Look at that beautiful couple. They look so healthy, so vibrant, so … young! When Elise was first diagnosed, she was 25, Nathan 24. She was one of 70,000 young adults, age 19-39, who are diagnosed with cancer every year. How could cancer strike one of them?
That’s just it – cancer doesn’t discriminate. It can strike anyone, anytime. That’s why we must keep working to find cures, treatments and preventative measures.
Meanwhile, Elise and Nathan are doing all they can to maintain normal lives and fight cancer every way they can. “Our faith and trust in God has gotten us through the last year and a half,” he said. Elise just started her second year of law school, and Nathan is gearing up for the longest run of his life.
When I asked him how long he has been a runner, he said, “I would not consider myself a runner before this year, definitely not a distance runner. I started running in September of 2010 because each year I have a physical test I need to pass. I am in the Air National Guard with the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth, MN. The running part of the test was a 1.5 mile run. I would never run beyond that distance because I seriously disliked running. But when I started running more, I felt better physically and mentally, so I kept at it and started to like it.”
To date, Nathan’s longest race has been Grandma’s Half Marathon this past June. “I had a blast!” he said, “My goal was to run it under 2 hours and I did 1:49:31, so I was stoked and I felt great!”
Training for a marathon takes time. Most training programs for beginners are 16 to 18 weeks, and that assumes you’ve built a decent base of 15-20 miles per week before the program starts. During that time, you encounter many surprises. That’s even more true when someone close to you is battling cancer. What caught Nathan off guard?
“There have been a couple of things,” he said. “The first kind of covers everything that Elise and I have gone through since her diagnosis. There are so many good, loving, and caring people in our lives and in the world. It was overwhelming the way family, friends and coworkers showed their love and support for us. I even feel it when I realize how many people raise money for organizations like the American Cancer Society. It’s awesome.
“There are so many generous people too. I have found that lots of people love giving to the American Cancer Society – all you have to do is ask, and they most likely have their own story about cancer affecting their lives.
“Another thing that surprised me is the time and diligence you need to train for a marathon. The marathon is such a ridiculous distance to run that it keeps you honest. You have to prepare for it by eating right, getting your mileage in for the week, getting enough sleep, listening to your body and just being smart about training.”
Sounds like he’s learned a lot in just a little time.
If you would like to donate to Nathan’s DetermiNation campaign, here is his page.
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