Here is my journey to the marathon…
It was October 12th 2008 and we were downtown cheering on my brother who was running the Chicago Marathon. Feeling the excitement of the day and watching as thousands of athletes accomplish their goal of finishing, I decided then (not knowing what lies ahead for me) to run the 2009 Chicago Marathon.
…I went to the Doctor a few days prior to the marathon for some uncontrollable itchiness which I thought was an allergy to my laundry detergent and a small lump in my neck. The doctor disregarded my itching, but wanted to check out the lump in my neck so he ordered a CT scan for October 13th. The day after the ’08 marathon I thought I was going to go in for the scan and, be told everything, is fine, it is just a swollen gland, but to my surprise, I received a phone call few hours after the scan and was told that I need to come in the following day to get my results. That couldn’t be good! I went in the next day to get my results… my physician had set up an appointment for a biopsy. He said they think its Lymphoma and that they have to biopsy it to determine what kind. The biopsy results came back and I was told that I have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
The thought of running a marathon was now the furthest thing from my mind. Now I had to deal with the fact that I have cancer.
I underwent more tests and scans and was now going to be starting chemo therapy. While I was sitting in a room getting my “wonderful” treatment, I saw a pamphlet on the wall for Imerman Angels. Now, I was doing pretty well with my chemo. Physically, I was doing pretty good, recovering rather quickly from each treatment, only felt “HORIBLE” for about 6 days every other week… but I wanted to talk to someone who knew what I was dealing with. So I called Imerman Angels and left a message describing my diagnosis. To my surprise, I received a call from Jonny about an hour later. We talked for about a half hour about everything. It was like I had known him forever. He came to my next treatment and that’s where my IA experience began.
4 months after starting chemo, I had more scans to stage my progress and everything came back clear. I was now cancer free and only had 4 more treatments to finish. I now had more to look forward to, a new life, a life as a survivor. What was I going to do after cancer? I remember the doctors telling me that working out and exercising helps the body recover from chemo, so at that point I decided I was going to run. The thought of running the ’09 Chicago Marathon started to look like it may be possible… so I registered. Timing couldn’t have been any better. I had my last treatment scheduled for April 23rd, 24 weeks before the race. That would give me 4 weeks to recover from chemo and 20 weeks to train.
Well, I gave myself about 2 weeks to recover. I knew I would need the extra time to train, considering I was never an avid runner. I didn’t know what to expect, would I be able to do it? Would I be able to run the grueling 26.2 miles? I had to do it. I wanted to prove to myself that I was healthy. That I had a new lease on life. That I was a survivor. That I could accomplish what I set out to do.
Training for the marathon was HARD. As the weeks passed and the mileage increased, I had doubts that I was going to be able to finish. The longest I made it through the entire 20 week training process was 16 miles. And after those 16 miles, I didn’t think I was going to be able to walk again… The big day came and I was ready, or at least as ready as I was going to be. I just wanted to finish, I knew I wasn’t going to going break any records. I just wanted to cross the finish line and know that having cancer wasn’t going to stop me.
Well…I did it! 4:59:08 after starting, I crossed the finish. 26.2 MILES. 20 weeks of training. 24 weeks after my last treatment.
I am now a cancer survivor and am looking forward to what lies ahead…
Great things happened today at the Chicago Marathon! The men’s record was broken by a second, a woman from Russia won in her 2nd marathon ever, and the Imerman Active team all made it safely across the finish line! It was a chilly day, but that didn’t stop IA fans and runners from gathering together in our tent in Charity Village. Check back for more pictures and videos from the event!
Pull out your day planners, Outlook calenders and organizers, because this weekend will be packed with events that you will not want to miss!
To celebrate the spirit of the Chicago Marathon, IA has pulled out the stops with some of our generous sponsors to celebrate our 117 Imerman Active runners who will be pounding the pavement in their signature light blue jerseys that were donated to us from Upstaging Inc. (www.upstaging.com).
PRE RACE: To kick off the weekend, we will be hosting a booth at the Marathon Expo both Friday and Saturday at McCormick Place in Chicago to spread our mission of 1-on-1 cancer support. We’d love to meet you face-to-face, so feel free to drop by and say hello!
RACE DAY: Imerman Angels can be found at our tent in Charity Village. A DJ from Platinum Entertainment will set the tone for visitors who will snack on food donated by Protein Bar and Postash Bros Market. Trainers and masseuses, provided by Equinox and LifeStyle Physical Therapy & Balance Center, will be keeping the mood and muscles loose!
POST RACE: Bull & Bear, a popular Chicago spot, will be hosting a post-race celebration! Compliments will be paid by the venue to marathon runners from 6-9pm! Didn’t run? You’re welcome as well!
Additional thanks to Czarnowski for donating our tent and banners!
To kick off Chicago Marathon Week, we caught up with Imerman Active teammate, Michael Wall, who not only runs for Imerman, but raises money as well. He was kind enough to answer some of our questions!
- Imerman Active Teammate, Michael Wall
Q: Michael, how are you involved with Imerman Angels?
I am a member of the Imerman Active team, which is a group dedicated to individuals who participate in athletic events in support of Imerman Angels. Imerman Active participants work to raise money and increase awareness to benefit 1-on-1 cancer support through Imerman Angels.
Q: We feel very fortunate to have you on our Active Team. What inspired you to run and fundraise for us?
My family and loved ones have been hit pretty hard by cancer, some of whom were able to beat it and others, unfortunately, who were not. Those experiences and losses have stuck with me. They are why I chose to get involved with Imerman and what have been the driving force behind my training. The special characteristic of Imerman that has really made an impact on me is their focus on the person. All charities and organizations focused on treating and curing cancer are amazing in their own special ways, but the tangibility of the Imerman Angels is what makes it so special to me.
Q: How did you get involved in running? How long have you been a runner?
I started running early in life (The 7th Grade) but I was never a “runner” so to speak. For most of my life, running was a part of offseason preparation for upcoming sport seasons. As I got older, and as my days as an athlete disappeared, I discovered that I had developed a real enjoyment for running and today it is just as much a part of my physical health as it is my mental health. I often joke that it’s my “drug” in that no matter what may be going on in my life I can always put on my headphones and just go. Running often helps me to put life situations into perspective and I often see things more clearly. There just always seems to be something that I experience, or see, or a thought that comes to mind while running that helps me to gain perspective. It’s something I truly value.
Q: What are you looking forward to most about Sunday?
What I’m looking forward to most on Sunday is the experience. I’ve set a pretty lofty goal in that I’m trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, which at this stage of my life will be a tough task. I’ve been really working hard to achieve that goal, but even if I come up short it will be the experience that I am looking forward to the most. Arguably the greatest distance runner of our nation’s history, Steve Prefontaine, once said that “the real purpose of running isn’t to win a race. It’s to test to the limits of the human heart.” I could not agree more! It is why I run, it’s why I’ll be running on Sunday, and it’s why I’m running for the Imerman Angels.
Special thanks to Michael for his contribution and all that he does for IA! We wish you the best of luck and will be at the marathon cheering you on!
Michael Wall, marathon runner and member of our IA Active Team, will be hosting a fundraiser at Bull & Bear in Chicago tonight to raise money for Imerman Angels!
The cost to attend is a $20 optional donation, which will include a cocktail reception and gift bag.
Good luck on the marathon, Michael!