Last year my aunt Michelle passed away at the age of 44 after a battle with breast cancer.
I've been sitting here at my computer for well over two hours trying to find the perfect words to write about Michelle and how full of life my she was and how she affected everyone's lives in such an amazing way and how there must be some greater purpose for why a young mother of six beautiful children was taken away from us.
But none of the words came out right. They seemed shallow and unable to really explain how special she was. So I scratched everything I had written and I will simply say that I loved her and that she will be missed by so many.
This weekend is the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, a community-based event meant to raise money and awareness in the fight against cancer. I'm sure many of you have heard of this or have even participated in your local event. For those of you who haven't heard of it, the general idea is that you put together a team so that at least one team member is walking or running around the track at all times for twenty four hours. This symbolizes the fact that those with cancer are battling the disease around the clock with no breaks.
I had never participated before, but this year I really wanted to do something. Over the course of the last month or so this idea grew into my 50 Miles for Michelle attempt. I guess I thought that walking around the track for an hour or two would be pretty easy for me because I'm in the best shape of my life. So I wanted to do something challenging to honor and celebrate Michelle's life and how she lived it.
The Pullman event is, for some reason, not actually twenty four hours. It's only seventeen. So I will have seventeen hours to complete fifty miles (200 laps) on a track. I won't be treating this as a race but more like a couple of long runs back-to-back, which means I'll be in no hurry and will try to take as much of the seventeen hours as I can. Lots of breaks and lots of walking.
Yes, this is coming a week before my first ever marathon. Will it affect my performance in Portland? Probably, but I'm okay with that. A slower Portland time will just mean that I'll have a better chance to break my PR during my second marathon, right?
Even though I'm calling this weekend 50 Miles for Michelle, it won't be only Michelle that I'll be thinking about out there on the track. Last year saw Jeanie's loving grandmother, Mary Ellen, pass away after a brief battle with cancer. Mary Ellen took me in like her own grandson and I loved her like a grandmother. We will miss her.
And to all those touched by this terrible disease.