No time for settling
Why would anyone want to run 26 miles? And why me of all people? It’s not that I’ve been a couch potato. I dabbled in exercise over the years. I’ve joined a few gyms, played some racquetball, and tried aerobics, karate, yoga, Pilates, and, of course, running. But I always dabbled. I imagined that at some point in the not so distant future I would stop dabbling and finally get into shape. This was never a very specific goal, like losing a certain number of pounds or getting a black belt in karate. And there was never even a timeframe associated with it like this month or even this year. It was more like a general feeling that when I finally got organized, exercise would have a prominent place in my daily routine.Then the year I turned 39, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was treated in the standard way — chemo, radiation, and a lumpectomy. Eight months later, I was cancer-free and back to living my life. Only things were different for me; I was facing the truth that life is shorter for some people than it is for others. We don’t all get to be 90. And some of us won’t get to see next year. Maybe intellectually we all know this … but some of us don’t really get it. We procrastinate as if tomorrows are endless. But after having cancer, I understood that each of us has a limited supply of them.I have since tried daily to teach my kids all the things I think they should know. They hate this, but I do it anyway. I can’t afford to wait until they are ready to hear it. And I tell the people that I love how much they mean to me, because it feels better than assuming that they already know. And I do what I can to live the life I want — now. In other words, I don’t settle for dabbling when it comes to things that are important to me.I want to be healthy and strong for the rest of my life. Of all the physical activities I have tried over the years, running was always the simplest. It takes little more than a pair of sneakers and a serious running bra. But I don’t just want to run occasionally, as I have in the past. That is too easy to ditch in favor of other more pressing issues like work or family obligations. So I choose to run a marathon — 26.2 miles on November 5, about two and a half months from now. Nothing vague about this. I have a specific goal with a set timeframe. Sure, it will take a serious effort to prepare my body to run for four or five hours straight. This time I won’t be able to dabble. And while training, I will be the healthiest that I have ever been in my life.
Karen is running as a member of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Fred's Team. If you'd like to sponsor Karen and help her raise funds for cancer research, check out The "Today" show's Natalie Morales is training along with Karen and will run the New York Marathon in her honor.