In November of 2011 my best friend Dan was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. I remember taking the call from him. I remember the silence after he told me as I scrambled to find words, but as hard as I tried to say something, anything, the words would not come out. I remember hanging up the phone and breaking down. I remember how angry I felt. As winter turned to spring, my anger was consuming me, I was miserable to be around. I decided to begin running as a way to clear my thoughts and get out my frustration.
In early May of 2012 after returning from a road trip with Dan, his wife, and her family I was taken aback by seeing what cancer had done to my friend. I began adding mileage over the summer as it was my grief therapy. 3 miles turned into 5, 5K races turned to 10K. As the calendar turned to 2013 and Dan’s condition continued to deteriorate, I was not running as much; I was depressed.
In May of 2013, after 18 months of battling day after day, Dan passed away. Once again, I took to running as a way to deal with my grief. As a tribute to Dan, his wife had expressed interest in running the Fox Cities Marathon relay in tribute to Dan’s life. I was honored to be asked and began training for my 5 mile leg of the race. Training runs became our time to talk. There were signs of Dan everywhere and I could feel him with me and hear his voice. As we crossed the finish line in September, a great sense of pride was felt throughout our group, a nice tribute to a great man. After our race, I still ran 4 or 5 times a week and continued to enjoy my conversations with Dan, but wanted to do something greater. I looked within myself on one of my long runs and came to the realization; I am strong enough to complete a full marathon. Several weeks later, on the 1st day of registration for the 2014 Cellcom Green Bay Marathon, I signed up.
Some days are harder than others, and you never know what tomorrow brings. I have made this commitment to honor my friend and his family and continue to look forward to our conversations as I embark through this journey; I know I am not alone in this. Dan, I miss you, love you, and most importantly thank you, but you know that, I told you this morning!