Big Sur Marathon

I love people. I’ve always been eager to meet new bright souls + learn their stories. {THE GOOD} {THE BAD} {THE UGLY} A few weeks ago, I met Allison at the Big Sur Marathon Relay + I heard it all.  Everyone has had a struggle that they’ve faced -- perhaps more extreme for some than others.  But the suffering is there. And it is in our shared suffering that we have the ability to heal our hearts + minds.  We can allow ourselves to soften into the comfort of knowing that we are not alone. 

My Stem Cell Transplant birthday fell on the same day as the race – April 24th.  So, when Captain Meg sent the email, I knew I HAD to join.  Many people may not be aware, but my Stem Cell Transplant birthday is a really big day of celebration for me.  It’s the most special day of the year, landing just 1 week after my true birthday. My Stem Cell Transplant Birthday is the day that I was given a second chance at life.  Just prior to the transplant, I had 2 weeks of radiation + high dose chemotherapy.  My blood counts were at zero.  That’s what high-dose chemo does – brings you to the brink of death + the transplant whispers to your body “come back to life”. Thankfully, my body listened. I had another chance to shine in this world.  I never ever take that for granted.

Back to the race…A 3:45AM shuttle bus brought me to the transition point where my teammate Laura would pass the baton and I would cruise along the oh-so-hilly yet breathtakingly stunning Route 1 in Big Sur.  I shared a seat with Allison.  As we chatted in the pitch black hour-long ride, I learned that she had recently moved to Boulder with her boyfriend from Los Angeles.  We spoke about how her + her boyfriend love to climb + they are crafting a business plan to open a “climber’s ranch” in their favorite spot.  She enthusiastically shared that it would be a dream to live their passion + create a space for other climbers to enjoy. She also told me about how this was her second time back at the Big Sur Marathon. Last year, she was the first leg of her team + just kept running the entire race, completing the full 26.2 miles without any training.  That was Allison’s first marathon.  I was blown away by her strength. {THE GOOD} Right after the move to Colorado, both of her parents were diagnosed with cancer. {THE BAD} They are both thriving now – thankfully - but we did also chat more about our families.  Allison said she had a brother and he’s passed. {THE UGLY} We left it there and I didn’t pry.  I listened and touched my heart as she shared that sacred life detail with me.  I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to her brother. 

As we weaved through Allison’s story and the light peeked over the mountains, I noticed she had a few tattoos. I’ve always been curious by what motivates people to ink themselves forever so I asked her about them. When Allison responded, she simply said, “They’re my life story.  Each is a reminder of where I’ve been, what I’ve been through and how I’ve become strong with each experience.” How powerful. As she told me this, I looked down at my 6 radiation tattoos + took a moment to honor my journey to wellness + thought of my fellow thrivers, angels + fighters.  And just like that, I had found my source of inspiration to guide me through the race.

So, I encourage you to REVEL IN THE STORY. Be curious. Listen. Open you heart. Release judgments. Life is not easy; however, it is because of our supportive community that we can rise up + truly soar together. As a team.