by Chris Brewer
Yesterday’s LIVESTRONG Austin half marathon truly meant a lot to me… on the physical front it provided a great challenge, something you absolutely had to train for. Now I’ve never really been a runner – and in full disclosure I was only able to walk it, coming off of surgery back in December – and so I had to ask our resident running expert, Tom Whiteside a simple question: how hard a course was it? “As marathon courses go, and especially the half, it’s one of the toughest courses I’ve done,” he told me in the Team LIVESTRONG tent afterwards. “It’s such a demanding route, not just the climbing up the hills but the long descents afterwards. That really takes a toll.”
There’s also something about an endurance event in that it’s as much about mental focus as it is about your physical capacity. You have time to think: the right thing and you can find inspiration and motivation, the wrong thing will allow self doubt to creep in and ultimately affect your performance. But I had a secret weapon, three amazing cancer survivors who inspired me literally from the start to the finish line 13.1 miles down the road. I thought of the sacrifice and tenacity of my brother Robin and my friend Ruben. They faced their cancer experience with total class, true warriors all the way to the very end. How could I let down their memory and legacy? And at the base of every hill I envisioned a man who we think about all the time at LIVESTRONG, Coach Brian Rose. He’s still in the thick of his cancer fight, and I could feel his energy and spirit driving me upward.
There were other things that also helped me around the course. I thought of the fine folks who had donated to my fundraising effort. They believed in me, but more importantly they believe in supporting the LIVESTRONG mission. And every time I saw one of my 500 Team LIVESTRONG teammates I felt I had to be the best I could be. They not only were on the course giving their all, they also raised over $300,000 to help us in our mission to serve the 28M people around the world living with cancer. (Thank you!) And then at mile 9, the “yellow mile” kicked in at exactly the point I needed it. Dozens of LIVESTRONG staff and volunteers were out in force, cheering us on, high fiving everyone and giving me a rejuvenated attitude with four miles to go. And lastly I knew that up the road was my colleague and friend, Athan Schindler. Athan’s one of our amazing cancer navigators who helps cancer survivors, family, and friends on daily basis. He’s also an outstanding athlete and proud member of the military, so he thanked the folks who donated to his fundraising by hiking the half marathon, with a 72 pound rucksack on!