Cancer survivor tackles Abbott World Majors Individual Challenge with New York City Marathon 2018 as first stop.
Read how FitLegally’s Rachel Brenke is turning up the motivation for a new athletic and personal challenge.
Just an average person, making a special choice.
How did I get here:
I ditched my goal of having my first completed stand alone marathon be a Boston Qualifier for showing my kids that you shouldn’t pass up opportunities. We GET to do this. I’m not a professional runner. I’m an amateur who is seeking personal goals and gain. I don’t need to come out the gate with highlights for a blog or Twitter, what I need is to show my kids that you take life by the horns.
I’m coming up on 12 years of being cancer FREE! That is amazing! Plus I lost 100 pounds through my tri journey + changed more on the inside than out.
View this post on Instagram
Recently I’ve received a lot of comments about my “skinny” size. Friends- this is only a physical manifestation of my journey. I’m only here because I made a choice. I’m only able to be “me” now that I’ve shed weight. Weight of body. Weight of shame. Weight of guilt. Weight of society’s pressures. Triathlon has revolutionized me inside way more than outside. While I appreciate, what I believe to be are acknowledgements of my hard work, remember the hardest work was on the inside. #cancerfree #postpartumsurvivor #makingaspecialchoice
This past triathlon season has been incredible with training at the Olympic Training Center with Olympian and Professional triathlete, Andy Potts and finished out with completion of the Ironman World Championships – with a coming soon – NBC Sports Feature. See my live journal + info here.
This end of season, I was so excited to give myself a break and focus on run speed this winter to get that BQ in May.
Truthfully, that wouldn’t be my first marathon, notice above, I said first completed stand-alone. I’ve completed a few in full Ironman Triathlons (140.6 total miles per race) and I attempted my first standalone marathon in May of this last year. A mere six days after my running buddy, Archer was killed in our yard.
I held him as he bled to death. He was my everything. The following days were filled with immense grieving, helping my children, managing media and the police, as well as figuring out our next legal steps. I barely ate, despite my friends and family descending upon me with meals, for which I am so grateful.
My run club, Moms Run This Town, was incredible. They reached out to the race director of that race and asked if they could buy a bibs – some for full marathon, one for a “trade off” so I was NEVER alone.
You guys don’t even know how amazing this was. However, by mile 23 I couldn’t walk. Physically, emotionally. I just couldn’t.
So I failed my first marathon.
After that I wanted to be able to come out the gate with the headline mentioned before, but this past year I had impromptu entered the New York City Marathon lottery, and got in! After my bustling summer, I planned for Ironman World Champs (Oct 13) to be my last race.
Then this last week I had a revelation.
It would be ungrateful of me to dismiss my lottery entry. I could defer, but I have an opportunity. An opportunity that begins my next bucket list items. I just did IMWC – checked off!
Here’s the deal, I’ve never been a fan of the stand-alone marathon distance. As a triathlete – I enjoy the swim bike as precursors. But the pull for a personal challenge + desire to inspire has won out.
So here I am, last minute deciding to run the largest marathon in the world this weekend.
I haven’t ran that much since IMWC but let me tell you …
… my joy of running is beginning to return. It’s basically been brute force and non-existent since Archer was killed. I spent that following month unable to run anywhere but on the treadmill out of fear and angst – and even then it was super short mileage.
So now is my time.
To not pass up the opportunity, ability and second chance that I have.
Yes, I cleared with family. Yes, I cleared it with coach. Yes, I feel great. Despite the injury I had going into IMWC – I feel awesome. One of my best friends is running and letting me crash her hotel.
The “stars” are aligning for me to get my stars!
It is time to run the NYC Marathon and begin checking off the marathon majors and complete the Abbott World Majors Challenge. I will be coming back to journal more and share my experience. Make sure you come follow on Instagram for live updates!
I’m putting this out there for accountability + support. I know this is going to require my community to surround me- as they have this whole process. My husband, kids, friends, family and running club. I thank you each!
Ready for the next ride?!
FTR – I’m not on a timeline.
I have my health, five kids, marriage and my businesses to look out for. 2019 is some changes in my athletic endeavors – but most importantly it’s really about focusing on key areas physically + emotionally.
What the Abbott World Majors Challenge is:
The Abbott World Marathon Majors is a series consisting of six of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world. The races take place in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City.
Should it pan out here’s the awesome medal the official challenge completers receive:
That’s my goal in life – to finish strong. To finish not wasting my second chance.
Marathon goal: to finish.
Being only 3 weeks out from IMWC I’m not convinced for a “good time”. I put myself in for 4 hours when I did the lottery a year ago – I am convinced I’m faster than that on fresh legs – but we will see what happens.
Oh, another goal – pet all the puppies I see!
How to track:
I’m in Green Wave 2 Corral A and take off around 10:15.
Bib # 31699
You can track by mobile app or online tracker here.
Partners I am Working With:
I relied on these partners to get me through this extended season:
- REST Performance
- Marc Pro (Use code FITLEGALLY for $32 off a Marc Pro and $47 off a Marc Pro Plus)
- Roka Sports – loveeee the glasses
- PD Labs (Use code FITLEGALLY for 20% off supplements)
Thank you to each for your support!
- Garmin 935 with internal heart rate monitor
- Newton Running Fate 2s
- Nike shorts & sports bra
- Team RWB tank
- FEETURES Socks
- ProForm Treadmill
- Gu energy gels
- On course: Gatorade Endurance
Journal Entry #1
Entering the bib pick up area my senses were interestingly numb. I don’t know if it’s my over exposure to large expo areas, my residual fatigue from Kona + travel or if my body just yet didn’t know what’s coming for my first standalone 26.2 mile marathon race.
Either way- I wasn’t feeling much – which is interesting because the older I get the more emotional I get. Or perhaps my fatigue from the entire 2018 season had just made me numb. Cause , as y’all know, I normally have senses buzzing, thoughts flying and blogs posting. But I felt relatively nothing walking through the expo. Taking pictures at the photo set ups. Even announcing my goal to chase all the major stars and become a Six Star finisher.
Now don’t get me wrong – I appreciated the fact I had a bib and could make this impromptu decision. I am grateful for the body and training to allow me to be hit 26.2 miles of concrete jungle. And I owe my best friend a beer for letting me crash her hotel last minute.
But something was off.
Cancer survivors don’t magically have “gratitude attitude” everyday. We are still real people. We still take things for granted. We still need a smack of it every once in a while.
Now that it’s been a few days removed since the race- I can finish this post. I started this on the note pad of my phone but really had nothing else to say. So I clicked it closed and haven’t touched it until now. As the muscle aches have moved around and I’ve responded to the messages of support – I can finally face what happened in the race.
One of the NYC marathon quotes is “it’ll move you”. During the expo, I had thought “how clever” but they weren’t kidding.
Mid race – I had a moving realization. It was my own stupid and irrational thoughts that kept me from enjoying the whole experience going in… so I must admit something to you all.
I didn’t like marathons.
A few weeks ago I had said to my running club – I’m a triathlete. Not a marathoner. I am not a runner. I won’t enjoy a stand alone marathon.
Until I did.
And then I felt guilty for having these nay-say thoughts.
I didn’t have them because I thought triathletes were better. I simply just have a history of never having done a stand alone marathon and had no real interest in this distance.
So here I sit.
Having to admit that my statements were unfounded garbage. The thoughts were more about me than they were about the distance. Even after publicly making my “chasing the majors” announcement- I still didn’t expect to fall in love. I just figured it was a good next bucket list step after already checking off Team USA and Ironman world champs. Maybe I’m just fickle and move goals with the wind. Once I grab some like a leaf blowing past on the fall wind, I’m reaching for another before I ever get that first one into my pocket. However, that hasn’t stopped me from achieving and appreciating it while I did it and once I did it. But this time- the fatigue of the tri season and preconceived notions of a stand-alone marathon – muted my senses. My own fear of entering into another goal made me blind to the challenge.
But then the race moved me.
It opened something inside me.
The boroughs were intoxicating. The miles were like sirens in the water. The pounding feet of the largest marathon still echo in my mind and are felt in my heart.
I’m hungry. Hungry for marathons. Hungry for more. Hungry to be moved. Hungry to move others.
I want other mothers to be hungry. I want y’all to join me. I want us to be moved. To be selfish. To chase.
So I’m asking y’all – who wants to chase the stars with me?