Ginkgo’s Cbus Half Report: A Shiny New PR for #TeamSully

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My homemade pace band.

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.

#teamsully getting ready for the 2015 Columbus Marathon and Half!
#teamsully getting ready for the 2015 Columbus Marathon and Half!

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 hitting the PR gong!
My mom hitting the PR gong!

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?

I'm a new momma, full-time non-profiter, and coffee lover. I write about healthy body image, half marathon training, and recovery from eating disorders. I'm currently training to maintain fitness throughout the winter and break 1:27:00 in my next half marathon.

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14 comments

  1. This half is very near and dear as it was my first pr too. It gives me goosebumps to see all the children miracle miles and all those running for them with their teams. The past two years I have spectated this race and find it brings me so much more joy to cheer on those that leave it all out on the road ahead. You can see every struggle, follow every thought. I saw your teamsully shirts. I rallied with you. Congratulations on that PR and prayers that little Sully is faring well today. What a beautifully written piece.

    1. Hi Kim! Thanks so much for your comment! My friend and I were chatting about this just the other day – how amazing it is to see the children out there with their giant champion foam hands and high five them. It’s enough to bring you to tears. Thanks for picking out the team sully shirts – I bet you were one of the cheerers who helped get my mom to the finish line with a 15 minute PR. She couldn’t help but be extra motivated by the support.

  2. So inspiring. Sounds like #TeamSully had incredible support. I’ve run races to support CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and cheered on friends running in memory of a dear runner friend killed by drunk driver.

  3. Hey. Good job. I was going to do that on my arm too. Actually, I was going to put the locations of the water bottles on my arm — but with arm warmers there wouldn’t be anything to see.

    1. I forgot to snag a pace band at the expo so I improvised! I had arm warmers on too so kept having to pull it up to see if I was on track toward my PR. Great job out there–you amaze me.

  4. Great job, Ginkgo, on the race and the fundraising! Did you do anything differently in training to get the PR or do you think a lot of it was the mental push of running for someone special?

    1. Hi there! I was able to throw in some speed work this training cycle (not as much as I would have liked) but I hadn’t been on the track like that in quite some time. I do think that helped give my legs the boost they needed. I think the mental push was 99% of it this time. Way to go on your marathon – you have big things ahead of you!!!

  5. Awesome job, Ginkgo! It’s so awesome that you got people to run for – I think that’s one of the coolest things about Columbus, and I’d love to see other races follow their lead!