Expectations. Do they set us up for failure and disappointment or for success? This past Sunday, my husband, two-year old and I ran The Terry Fox Run. A day where we raised funds for cancer research so more people like me, who were diagnosed with cancer can out run it.
First off, thank you to all who supported my family and I for this run both emotionally and monetary. You are all wonderful and brilliant! The sun was shinning and there was a lovely breeze. We had chosen to run the full 10K for the race, oops…I mean run, so that we could give ourselves a bit of a challenge. At the last-minute we changed run locations from the downtown Vancouver site to one of the suburb locations closer to our home. We arrived at the stadium in enough time to register and get little Q settled into the environment. I was wearing my Terry’s Team Mate shirt, a t-shirt given to cancer survivors by the organization. The opening speech was by Terry’s nurse, Alison Ince, which gave us all a little clip into what it was like to take care of someone who would forever change the lives of so many people. The canon went off at 10:35am, I expected to start the run with all the other runners, walkers and bikers, but we were slightly delayed to get the toddler into the jogging stroller and well frankly, I needed to use the washroom before I started the 10K! We didn’t actually get moving until about 10:42am. I had guesstimate that it would take 1.5hrs to run this distance. I know that sounds long – especially to all you runners our there who run half marathons in that amount of time but I can guarantee you, you weren’t pushing a 30 lbs child in a 10 lbs stroller, running with an arthritic partner! So, my expectation that we could do it in that amount of time was realistic, I thought.
Once we passed the walking crowd with the stroller, we were able to keep a good pace at running in intervals. We had to make two quick stops for water and to give Q something to eat. On round two of the 5K path, we noticed that the organizers were starting to pack up the water station throughout the run and that there really were not that many people on the path any more. My husband kept saying to me “I don’t think anyone else is running the 10K with their family, everyone’s done”. But we kept trekking along enjoying the beautiful scenery and running as best we could. Little Q kept saying “I want to run!” which, I did debate at one point getting him out of the stroller and letting him do so, however, my husband kindly reminded me that it would have been hard to even finish the 10K before the event ended at 1pm. As we pulled up to the stadium at 12:10pm, we noticed it was very quiet. No music, no refreshments and only a few of the event organizers left. We would have liked to have crossed the finish line, but they were already packing it up. When I spoke with the event organizer, she said they only had the stadium rented for so much time and had to be out of there by 1pm. We had a sip of water and headed home to nourish our bodies. We walked away, feeling a little disappointed.
But why was I disappointed? The last few weeks I had trained my body, getting my stamina up. I was able to run a 10K pushing a stroller, raise $685 in pledges, run with my husband in a beautiful park with perfect temperatures and sunshine. It wasn’t until my yoga class the next night that I realized I was looking at this whole thing wrong. The point of the Terry Fox Run is not about how quickly you can do 10K or whether you cross the finish line or get a medal. This is about raising funds for cancer research, helping others, coming to an event to show your support the organization and that you still believe that we can outrun cancer in our lifetime.
I now know that I could, with training, do a half marathon and I have never believed I could do that until now. There is no disappointment in knowing that. Sometimes in life, we get caught up in the expectation and it can dangle over the true result. Just knowing that you can complete something or even just to show up can be enough. You don’t have to physically cross that finish line every time or run the full 10K. I hope next year, I see more red t-shirts of people who have beat this disease. I’ll leave you with a quote from the man himself.
“I don’t feel that this is unfair. That’s the thing about cancer. I’m not the only one, it happens all the time to people. I’m not special. This just intensifies what I did. It gives it more meaning. It’ll inspire more people. I just wish people would realize that anything’s possible if you try; dreams are made possible if you try.” Terry Fox