Monday, May 23, 2011

2011 Fargo Marathon

"Letting go of our grip on predictable results and trusting God with our heart offering is one of the most challenging choices we make."  Carol Kent

I stand in the shower trying to wash all the fatigue down the drain. I stand and stand, hoping. As if the water has some kind of energizing ability that enables me to recover some stamina, some strength. But I've hit a wall of sorts this week, and the fatigue has settled deep into my bones. I only half-jokingly asked Rick to carry me to bed the other night. This is supposed to be my "best" week, the week before treatment. But maybe I am just overdoing it. Feeling my aliveness just a bit too much. I don't fault myself for the urgency in which I want to do every. single. thing.

Because I have a new reminder. A new unexpected symptom. The unpredictable creeps back in.  I can't look down anymore when I am getting dressed. Because when I do, I see it now, the cancerous tumor reaching through my skin, ugly, brown, a blight against the whiteness and purity of my otherwise normal skin. I dress with eyes closed, crossing fingers I don't bump it and tear the thinly crusted top that instantly starts to ooze a sticky substance. Its gross. But I have to face it daily.

"Ask Dr. Panwalker about surgery," moves to the top of my list for Monday's appointment. Plus a host of other questions involving blood counts and treatment plans have arisen in the three weeks since I've seen him. He is so good about answering each and every question I have, without making me feel awkward or clumsy in my lack of knowing at times.

Yet, despite how tired I am, I feel satisfied somehow. I have missed very little. I am walking a couple of miles almost daily. I am charting a course for a summer trip we plan to take. I see my toes in the white beach sand and the water of the ocean swirling around my ankles. I can almost taste the fresh seafood I know I will indulge myself. Life continues to be good.

We went to the Fargo Marathon on Saturday in the hopes of catching a glimpse of friends, running with MY name on their backs. What, who me? Not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR friends, running with my name on their backs. I am so deeply humbled they would think of me and carry the idea of me on their backs.

I wanted to see if I could catch a glimpse of them running. Rick brought his camera and we stood for hours watching and waiting.  We arrived early at the mile 6 marker at the beautiful campus of Concordia College.  The first runners come in shortly after we arrive.  They are graceful and run with a gentle ease. Yet they are determined; their movement solid, and purposeful.

A pace group arrives shortly.  A 3 hour 10 minute race time is phenomenal.  How many of them will keep pace?  

And then somewhere between the 3:40 and 3:50 pace group, my sweet friend Anne shows up.  She is all decked out in pink and black, strong and sure in her stride.  She lights up when she sees us and blows me a kiss while high fiving the boys along side me.  She is a rockstar in my book.  This is her SEVENTH Fargo marathon.  She has run in it since the first year of the marathon, seven years ago.  She is running this year, in memory of her mom who passed away earlier this spring, and in honor of me.  

As vibrant as Anne looked, the man on the left wearing #115, was looking more tired, a pained expression on his face.  His pace had been faster as he had arrived about the time of the 3:10 group, but the pace and its toll showed in his face.  Ironically, I will see him later again, unbeknownst to me at this time.

Heather in pink is our secretary at the boys' school.  She ran a leg of the marathon relay and was finishing as we left.  She looked like she could have easily done another leg!  Way to go Heather! 

We wait awhile longer, but I have no idea the pace with which the rest of the women are running.  We decide to try our luck in seeing them at the finish line.  The finish line is inside the Fargo Dome and is quite a spectacle to take in.  The vibe and energy surrounding the runners is supercharged.  

They come in under the big sign lit up with spotlights.  An announcer reads their names as their chip records their name and finish time.

The Marathon has over 23,000 participants this year.  

A few minutes taking it all in, and we decide to head back outside to be closer to the runners.  Our friend Ben happens to pass by us on his way to the finish line inside.  He doesn't even notice us, he is focused on the finish.  But my eyes quickly settle on his wrist, the one adorning my bracelet... thanks Ben- congrats on your race! 

And then we see her.  Its Anne again!!  But clearly, she is tired.  Weary.  Her steps measured, barely swinging one leg in front of the other.  I will find out later two toes had turned purple with their circulation being cut off.  She has run in pain for the last 4 miles.  But she has run.  My heart swells with pride.  She has done her momma proud, I just know it.  She is courage and strength personified.  She renews my hope, renews my fight as I watch her conquer the beast of a race!  

Anne hobbles over to my house the next day.  Tired, and sore.  But radiant.  

And on her left, ironically is the guy from above, #115, (I have other photos which show his number clearly) who had been a full 35 minutes ahead of Anne at some point, now side by side with her. He is barely walking, a now continuous tortured look on his face.  Yet, he too I notice,  is crossing the finish line.   

Predictable results?  No, not really for most of us, as much as we crave and rely on it.  But the results can be equally good when we let go. 

I regretfully did not see the rest of the women honoring me.  But my love and admiration for each of them is immense.  Vanessa, Missy, Shelly and Anne, you are amazing women of strength and I am so deeply honored to be friends with you and recipients of your compassionate hearts. 


  1. I am finding a wonderful analogy between running the marathon and your journey to recovery. How, like Anne, you'll have these glowing moments of energy and smiles and kisses but there will also be moments of fatigue and pain and wanting to just stop. But you won't. And just like Anne, you'll have run your race. You will make yourself proud.

    Be good to yourself, Dear Vicky.

  2. Thoughts and prayers to you...I have been following your blog for a while now (originally popped over from All things Heart and Home). I'm a (Mankato) Minnesota hockey mom and wife.

    My morning show partner (I'm a radio DJ) have done MUCH volunteer work for cancer research. (St Judes to Relay's for life) It's all very close to our hearts~

    We were just looking at your photos from this marathon. My morning partner ran his first marathon this past year... What an inspiration your friends are!

    I just wanted to pop in and say that I am following your story and sending support from another MN mom!!

    Send us some bracelets! (I will place our order!)

  3. You are so strong! I admire the way you've handled your diagnosis and treatment and I LOVE how supportive your friends and community have been. You are truly blessed Vicky!

  4. I always leave here a little overwhelmed by your strong spirit ...prayers continue.

  5. You amaze me, Vicky... your grace and strength are immeasurable.

  6. I agree with Marion that a marathon is a wonderful metaphor for the course you are now on. There will be moments when you hit 'the wall' and others where you feel energized, able and determined and totally exhilarated when you see the goal in sight!

  7. If you need to be carried to bed, you need to be carried. I am so happy that you are marching strong but PLEASE rest when you need to and honor those moments. xoxo

  8. Vicky you are truly a brave and strong person.
    However I agree with the above. Over doing it doesn't help. More garlic, parsley and onions to strengthen the immune system which then can fight better. We all have cancer except the immune system can deal with it.
    So I do think you can still beat it through what you eat and drink.

  9. Yes, you are running the race of your life. Hang in there, be encouraged by those cheering you on, keep enjoying the sweetness of each day, each smile, each hug, each moment with those you love. Run, fight, rest, be and remember you're not alone.

  10. Checking in on you daily and reading 1000 Gifts at your suggestion. You are changing lives. Please rest and knowhow much you are loved.

  11. I am so proud of you, sweetheart, as you race through all the unpredictable. holding you always close. that you can count on.

  12. Vicky--you don't know me at all but I am a friend of Bonnie S's and I have been reading your blog since Bonnie wrote about you. I live in Sioux Falls but grew up in Fargo. I ran the Fargo marathon on Saturday as well. I wanted you to know that I had dedicated my run to you and several other people who are close to me and are struggling right now. I thought of you often throughout the run and especially after I hit the wall at mile 16. I don't know you personally but I feel your amazing spirit every time I log on and see your smile. As I got towards the last 10K or so and my legs were hurting so very, very much, I relied heavily on the words a friend said to me just before I left Sioux Falls for Fargo. She said, you will run out of steam, you will run out of energy, you, will hurt, you will reach your breaking point and at that point, you just know it's God's strength that is carrying you through. As I experienced all of that, I starting talking to God and asking him to carry me through. He was faithful. I don't at all equate my running a marathon with what you are going through. But I do tell you this just to let you know there are more people out here thinking about you and praying for you than you even realize (my daughter, Maddy as well) and that His strength will get you up those stairs when your own seems to have taken an extended vacation. All my very best to you and your family. You are in my heart and I look forward to a chance to say hello in person next time I am in Fargo. In His love, Kelly G.

  13. Kelly's comment above is wonderful and shows how much your strength motivates us all to be better people. You are in all our hearts!

    Congrats to your friends Vanessa, Shelly, Missy and Anne for running a race full of determination and love.

    Great post Vicky!!

    Love ya. - Kel

  14. What a great post, love it. You called it a beat of a race, you are so right. My daughter, a very in shape ex college track athelete, ran her second marithon recently, crossing the finish line in tears. A bruttle race. Amazing friends you have.


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