I did it. I freaking did it.
I ran 13.1 miles today, and I didn’t stop to walk. (I did stop for water breaks, but I’m not counting that.) I’ve been training for this day for months, basically since last October. This time last year, I was still recovering from five surgeries over the period of two years. I was 10 to 15 pounds heavier, and I lacked direction. I didn’t know how to change my life and bounce back from all the crap done to me during breast cancer. I hated what cancer had done to me physically with all my scars, weight gain and the reconstruction.
I’m now in the best freaking shape of my life. I have never looked and felt like this, even before cancer. I have a feeling of purpose with running. During all my treatment, I remember how absurd it felt to hear people say to me, “Oh, you’re so strong. You’re a fighter.” That always struck me as odd because I had never felt so physically weak and just beat up. Like, seriously, who was I fighting and winning? Cancer treatment puts the patient in a very passive role. I didn’t do anything – rather, treatment was done to me.
I feel strong now, and I have realized that I’m not strong nor was I ever strong because I had cancer. I am now strong even though I had cancer.
During the last three or four miles of the race today, I actually started getting flashbacks to my time in the chemo ward. I could see myself in the chair, looking out at the other patient. I remembered that feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. I’d snap out of that flashback and just ran harder. Then I flashed to my hospitalization after my double mastectomy, and how much pain I felt. I’d snap out of that, too, and ran harder. It was like Runner Lara was running like hell away from Sick Lara, like I am finally able to put that period of life behind me (knowing damn well that it can always come back).
Nothing I can do will prevent breast cancer from ever coming back, either local or distant. What I do today, like putting on a pair of shoes and running, is what i can do. That’s the only control I have – this very moment.
This race was such a huge deal to me. It was to see if I could even do it and a big fuck you to cancer. Now it’s done and in the (Lara) record books, it’s time to move on. I’m definitely not cancer girl anymore.
I am a runner.