I wasn’t chasing a half-marathon PR for the usual glory when I lined up with the crowds at the Columbus Marathon and Half. This year I was going to PR for Sully.
Sully is a four-year-old who would be watching for me run by from the window of his room at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He’s also the son of my sorority sister and good friend, a self-proclaimed ‘non-runner’ who would take on her first half in an effort to raise funds for Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Nope, on October 18, 2015 I was going to take the personal out of personal record and go for it for Sully.
Sullivan “Sully” Brooks was just three-years old when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on May 19th, 2014. He was initially diagnosed with mumps, but 36 hours later, he was receiving his first chemo treatment for ALL. ALL is one of the most common of all childhood cancers. It disrupts production of white blood cells and any minor infection can cause major complications. Can you imagine worrying sick about your child, believing he had mumps, only to discover it’s far worse – cancer? Me either.
Sully’s mom, Megan and her husband Zach, along with their daughter Harper, have been living the new “normal” for the past year and a half. With the most incredible resilience and optimism, Megan started #teamsully to rally the troops of supporters to cheer on Sully’s supporters. When Megan asked the runners she knows to join the #teamsully Nationwide Children’s Marathon and Half Marathon team to raise funds for childhood cancer research, I didn’t hesitate for a second!
I really didn’t need any other motivating to fight for Sully, but the night before the race, Megan texted to tell me that Sully was back in the hospital. He caught a virus that wiped out his immune system.
Megan’s husband, Zach wouldn’t be running in his first marathon so he could stay bedside with the little superhero. Megan second-guessed whether she should either. But she thought about it and realized that Sully never quit. He didn’t even know what the word meant. Megan wouldn’t quit. Megan started this past summer being able to run about 1 mile before having to stop. She conquered the half under 2 hours and 45 minutes, using the pain as fuel for this accomplishment.
My day was all about Sully. I thought about that sweet little boy who has been receiving therapy at Nationwide since the day he was diagnosed and will continue the regimen for two more years. His treatment is a combination of oral chemotherapy, IV chemotherapy, chemotherapy shots, and chemotherapy into the spinal fluid and radiation. When I got tired around mile 11 and my body wanted to get into its ‘comfy’ pace mode, I thought of Sully. I pushed harder.
Pain in my legs or in my gut from running hard was nothing compared to the nausea, the fatigue, and the suffering that Sully and his family had been experiencing for the past 18 months. I focused on the pack ahead of me and hunted them down. I started with a pace group and used the group energy to get locked into the pace that I needed to accomplish my goal.
I was able to PR by 46 seconds: 1:28:12, averaging a 6:44 pace. Other members of #teamsully, including my mom and friends, all had stellar performances. I’m pretty sure Sully had something to do with all that.
My mom, in her second half-marathon ever, ran a 15 minute PR. 15 MINUTES!!! She met the spouse of Sully’s doctor out on the course and heard so many shouts of ‘Go Team Sully’ that she couldn’t help but smile and keep going.
Though I’d like to take credit for the PR, it wasn’t me this time.; it was Megan and Sully. I passed Megan around mile 7 and gave her a big hug and high five. Seeing her out there gave me goosebumps and lots of adrenaline to push harder. Being a new mom myself, I can’t imagine what Megan has been through on this journey. There’s no love stronger than the love that you have for your child.
#Teamsully raised over $13,000 and was 2nd overall in fundraising! An amazing accomplishment in itself.
Have you ever run for someone else? Did it motivate you to push harder?