This past August, my best friends and I agreed to do a relay triathlon together next summer. Sarah would swim, Rachel would bike and I’d take the race home with running. We talked about what we would need in terms of equipment and training.
So…how many times have I ran for my training since our conversation?
Yep. One time.
I mean, I have gone to a running store to look into appropriate shoes and running clubs here in Dallas. It’s a start, right? Come on, give me a little credit!
Anyway, I began to think about why I haven’t “fully committed” to my actual training yet.
What was I missing? What was the one thing that could get me to actually commit?
I hadn’t found a purpose near to my heart, a why, if you will, yet…until I learned that my friend, Thomas, passed away at the young age of 32 from brain cancer.
Considering we weren’t close, we still kept in touch through Facebook here and there since our graduation. Even though I wasn’t close to him as many others were, his passing really hit me harder than I expected.
I even had to talk to Rachel about it because I thought something was wrong with me.
“Even though you guys weren’t close, you were friends. His passing may be bothering you because it might have something to do with mortality and his short life.”
She was right. It was so hard to imagine that Thomas had been fighting cancer since we graduated high school back in 2004. That’s 14 years. Fourteen years of hospitals, medications, paperwork, doctor visits, chemo and everything else that comes with this crappy disease.
Two days after his passing, I received our annual email at work encouraging me to give to causes I cared about. In the past, I’ve donated to diabetes research in honor of Rachie, Children’s Hunger Fund and others.
Right when I was about to donate to Thomas’ funeral expenses to help his family, I found out it was paid in full. So, I decided to honor him by redirecting the money I was going to give towards his funeral by donating through my job to an organization he supported. I remember seeing one of his cancer walks he did four years ago so I went on his Facebook page to look for the name of the organization.
From there, I went on the website my company provided and looked it up. Then it prompted me to choose from, “In honor of,” “In memory of,” etc. and had a box where we could put someone’s name.
So, I made a donation to the National Brain Tumor Society: “In memory of Thomas Smith and Joshua Franks.”
Backstory: My friend Joshua had passed away from the same disease six years ago, but his time battling it was way shorter.
Once I submitted my donation, was when I found my reason to run.
I’ll be running because of what my friends like Thomas and Joshua went through. I run because Thomas couldn’t for the latter part of his life. And I’ll be running for a great cause: for those who can’t.
With that said, I decided to raise money for organizations near to my heart for future 5K races I’ll be running in to train for my Olympic relay triathlon.
The word ‘triathlon’ sounds like a major event, doesn’t it? ‘Olympic’ does too.
But those words pale in comparison to what others consider huge.
Until you see videos like this with people like Bailey Matthews‘ determination and perseverance, you and I know nothing about life’s “major” experiences.
Until race day, strong people like Bailey will keep me motivated by reminding three things when I’m training:
1) You need to work out because you GET TO work out. Many times, we don’t realize that our capability of moving is a huge blessing.
2) Believe in yourself! I mean, watch him let go of his walker and go at it!
3) Everyone has to start somewhere. If you fall, get up and get yourself to the finish line no matter how many times you fall!
Talk about inspiration, right?
My next run is this Saturday and the following Tuesday. Then my first 5K I’ll be running for my relay triathlon training is on Thanksgiving day. And I’m actually excited to run because now, aside from the blessing of the ability to run, I have a purpose to run.
I leave you with the best words I could muster up for Thomas and his family:
“Our GPHS family, especially the Class of 2004, are in mourning this week. After a 14 year battle with cancer, our happy, full-of-life classmate and friend, Thomas Smith, went on to be with the Lord this past Monday.
I remember messaging him five years ago this November telling him that God will always love him and be there for him and that I am praying for our Lord to heal him and take this cancer away forever. I remember assuring him that God is a big God and that He can do big things and that I hope he didn’t mind me putting him on the prayer list at my church.
You know what he said back to me? “I would never mind you putting me on the prayer list. I believe prayer works miracles so please continue to pray for me and thank you for all the prayers so far.”
That’s how I remember Thomas. I remember his unrelenting faith, his kindness and his friendships with everyone at school. And if you had classes with him or went on trips with him, you know that there was NEVER a dull moment. Someone was always laughing because of him.
He lived life fully and fearlessly, loved everyone around him and fought hard for nearly a decade and a half. As sad as I am that he only had 32 years on Earth, I’m happy that he’s no longer in pain.
Prayer warriors, I ask for you to please send your thoughts and prayers to the Smith family and Thomas’ closest friends this week as they say “See you later” to such a bright light. Thank you.”
I know there will days where I won’t want to run and that it’ll be hard to stay motivated in the gym. In the end, I know it’s worth it because I’m no longer doing it for me.
If you’re a runner, tell me. WHY do you run?
I’d love to know what drives you. If you like taking up other health activities, please feel free to tell me why taking care of yourself is important too!
Rose Gold Techloom Phantom Sneakers c/o Athletic Propulsion Labs