Almost two months ago, the University of Iowa Dance Marathon granted me the amazing opportunity to participate in the Chicago Marathon. While 26.2 miles seems like a task far too challenging to complete, it was nothing compared to the battle our kiddos face every day. Day after day, pediatric cancer kids show up. They show up at the front lines of the battlefield to face this horrible enemy called cancer. The least I could do to show them that I see their fight, was to run the Chicago Marathon.
The race began far before the morning of October 9th. It started the moment I filled out the Dance Marathon the Marathon application. I was approved to sign up through the Chicago Marathon, and I set sail from there. The training process was full of ups and downs. It was full of many one-mile runs because I convinced myself I wasn’t capable of running more. I questioned whether I was good enough or in shape enough far too many times. However, eventually, the runs became easier. Being able to run one mile, slowly eased into being able to run 5 miles, 6 miles, until I was able to complete my longest training run of 13.1 miles, only half of what was to come in Chicago.
When I arrived at the expo to pick up my runner packet the day before the marathon, so many emotions flooded through me, but the two biggest were nervousness and excitement. There was still a part of me that was questioning if I was even going to finish, but those thoughts quickly diminished after listening to a Sports Neurologist speak about how much your thoughts impact you physically. If you tell yourself you can’t do something, you simply will not be able to do it. After I heard her story, I knew how important it was to have a positive mindset stepping up to the start line, as well as far beyond the race. It is important to understand there are two things you can control in life - attitude and effort. I was able to fully grasp that concept after crossing the finish line 24 hours later in a time I would’ve never expected to accomplish.
I wouldn’t have been able to run without the support of so many. Especially, the Dance Marathon community which is one like no other. I started off the race running with another Dance Marathon member I haven’t met prior to the start line. By mile 20? We knew so much about each other; it was hard to believe we didn’t stop to walk once. The kindness and friendliness that radiates off each Dance Marathon member is indescribable, and I am so proud of each DM runner who crossed that finish line because they all deserved that medal. They all poured out their love and determination into fighting for the kiddos that are fighting their very own battle on level 11 of the Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
To the brave pediatric cancer kiddos, this race was for you. Those 26.2 miles were anything but easy, but simple compared to the battle you fight every day. The University of Iowa Dance Marathon is something so special, and I’m honored to be a part of it. Being able to run the Chicago Marathon for something more than myself was nothing short of inspiring and amazing.
By Sydney Weber