52.4 Miles in 240 Hours??

I have never met Skip Svetanics. But I feel like I know him well.

Skip also is a runner in the Bob Rockers Running group. We “met” two weeks ago via Facebook and through my blog after Caroline Keating, a friend and running partner, chose to share one of my  posts.  Skip read it.  And as I recall, he was about to go on an early 10 mile run and came across my “52.4 Miles in 48 Hours” race for Parker. I am humbled that he said it helped motivate him.

But he had a greater inspiration that morning; for his run would take him close to the very hospital where his mother, JoAnn lay in Room 815 battling myeloproliferatvie disease (an early form of Leukemia).

My Hero- JoAnn Svetanics
My Hero – Matt Michel

His mom was diagnosed with myelofibrosis in 2002 and doctors only gave her three years. Well, nine years later, she continues battle with the help of medicine, prayer and a very supportive family.  I asked if I could write her name down on a card and run with it during my races.

Skip agreed and asked that I also add one of his dear friends, Matt Michel. Matt lost his battle with AML but as his sister, Beth Michel Cirami, shared with me later, “know that the spirit of the marathon really is his so I am sure he loved to be with you on yours”. Matt’s battle lasted from diagnosis on 2/20/09 until he passed away 10/29/09. He is the hero of everyone who knew him, including Skip. He was now my inspiration as I wrote their names on a piece of paper for Skip and tucked it in my running belt.

My Heroes

There were many others in my thoughts as I prepared for my race Saturday morning, including survivor, Tiffany Gossett, whom I have not met, yet inspired me with a touching email after learning about Parker’s story. Close to my heart were my mom’s own brother and my Uncle, Bill Holmes and my wonderful neighbor of seven years, Larry Gard, both of whom had battled the disease with such dignity and grace. I watched “Parker Through Pictures” a few times and had all the inspiration I needed to start my first Marathon.

So I thought.

I received an email from Skip. He wished me luck and shared that he had started what he called his “J&P” workout – 10 consecutive days of 5.24 mile runs.  Mirroring my “52.4 miles in 48 hours”, Skip’s would be “52.4 Miles in 240 Hours”.  🙂

I read a little further and discovered what the “J&P” Workout stood for:  JoAnn and Parker.

I read on and below is what he shared that touched me more than I can put into words:

“You see, recently when I looked into my mother’s eyes in the hospital, I saw a similar look as what I’ve seen in Parker’s pictures. I saw bravery, happiness and hope. They are at the opposite ends of the spectrum (in age) but they have similar expressions. I see beauty in my mother becoming like a child and bravery in Parker dealing with such an adult concept of the sickness of Leukemia.”

Now you know the over-flowing emotion and motivation I had, as I comprised myself and walked out of Room 925 at 8:10 am to meet my small crew of other runners and two support vehicle drivers to run the cancelled Death Valley Marathon. It would be the first 26.2 of 52.4 miles and too many thoughts, images, stories and emotions to count.  I had all the motivation I would ever need.

Tomorrow morning I will meet Skip Svetanics in person. We are going to run 5.24 miles. We will then run 5.24 miles again on Sunday morning, finishing the last leg of his “52.4 Miles in 240 Hours” together!  Inspiration can come from many places and people. I am inspired by what Skip has taken on and honored to join him on these last two runs.

I am sure we will recognize each other.

We will both be wearing our white “PARKER” shirts.