Cancer Survivor to Run First Marathon at 51

I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2013. After my treatments, I started running to take back my life and regain my health. Now, I want to run my first marathon. My name is Tricia and I am 51 years old.

I have heard it time and again; “you are too old to run”, ” you are too fat to run”, ” running is hard on your knees” and “your body can’t handle it”. I think I have successfully proved these naysayers wrong so far. Now it’s time to take it up a notch and run a marathon.

I started running 5 years ago

My oncologist told me to get 20 minutes of aerobic exercise per day. After two rounds of chemotherapy, I started walking. I walked almost two miles every day to my radiation appointments. My husband and I walked most evenings. We were walking about 5 km four or five times per week. I wanted to be stronger. Chemo and radiation had made me so weak. I wanted to lose weight and get my life back. Walking was doing that for me, but it wasn’t the aerobic activity that my oncologist had in mind. He said aerobic, “like Jane Fonda”.

I had signed up to walk 5 km in the CIBC Run for the Cure in 2014 to raise money for breast cancer research. However, I still had the doctors orders of “aerobic” exercise tugging at my brain. Walking was good, but it no longer got my heart rate up. I needed more. So, when I saw a couple of ladies running my favorite walking route, smiling and laughing, I had a thought. Could I run the 5 km in the Run for the Cure? My husband thought it was a good idea. I still had doubts, but I went for it.

At first, I found running very challenging

I struggled with running just 1 minute. My legs hurt, my back hurt, and my lungs hurt. I didn’t have the right pair of shoes, nor the right running clothes on. It was really hard to run 1 or 2 minutes in the beginning. But I persisted. I was always last in my learn to run group. But I didn’t let that stop me. I was determined to run that 5 km. It took 16 weeks, building and strengthening slowly, but I did it. It was very exhilarating to cross the finish line with all the people cheering. Almost an indescribable and overwhelming feeling of accomplishment washed over me. I ran my first 5 km.

Perseverance and determination saw me improve

I ran another 5 km fundraiser, then another and another. I started meeting like-minded people. The back of the pack runners that were running for their own reasons. These people quickly became my friends. We encouraged each other. I still run with many of them today.

I decided to run 10 km the next year. When I accomplished that, I decided to run in the very historic Fire Fighters 10 Mile Road Race. It was only another 6 km more than 10 km after all. Once I accomplished this, I thought I would tackle a half marathon, as it was only 5 km more than 10 miles. I inched my way up to half marathons…only 5 km more here, 6 km more there. It seemed like the next logical steps. But to go from a half marathon, 21.1 km, to a full marathon 42.2 km seemed daunting to me. So, I dismissed the possibility.

Now I run half marathons

I have now ran 11 half marathons. My furthest distance running has been 25 km that some friends and I did on a whim. Yes, we ran 25 km one day, just for fun and to see if we could. But 42.2 km still seems so far and scary to me. The distance nags at my brain. Many of my running friends have ran marathons, some have run ultra-marathons, which are 50, 100 or more kilometers. So, it is very possible for people to run this distance. But is it possible for me to run 42.2 km? I am not so sure, but I am committed to try.

I want to run a full marathon next

What drives me to try? The challenge, I guess. It scares me. A marathon is very far. It is double the race distance that I have done before, and half marathons are far. I haven’t even walked or hiked 42.2 km before. And now I am going to run it.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” – Eleanor Roosevelt –

I want to run a marathon because running 42.2 km scares me

But cancer scared me. Chemotherapy scared me. Surgery and radiation scared me. And I survived. Running a marathon is something I have to do, at least once, because it scares me. Conquering that fear is something I need to do. I need to prove to myself that I can do it, that it is possible. There is no better feeling than overcoming your fear and achieving your dreams. Running this marathon will be my affirmation that anything is possible. And if I don’t finish, then at least I tried. And that makes all the difference.

My marathon race day is planned for Sunday October 6, 2019.

I want to share my journey with you. I will be blogging about my progress in the 2019 Marathon Challenge section of this blog. You can read about all my blood, sweat and tears as we go. There may be lots of tears, I think. I promise to give you all the good, the bad and the ugly truth of my journey.

Join me in empowering ourselves

Conquer something that scares you. It doesn’t have to be running, but it could be. And it doesn’t have to be running a marathon.. It could be running 5 km, going to the gym or learning to swim.

Let’s do this!

What are you or have you conquered? Let me know in the comments below.


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  1. You should be so proud for even trying! But I know you have the courage, determination, and persistence to do it! I, like everyone else, can’t wait to hear about and witness your progress towards, and accomplishment of, this huge goal!

    1. Thank you for the praise and encouragement. It will certainly be an adventure. So glad you will be following me on this journey.

  2. You are such an inspiration to us all. I’m looking forward to you journey to the full marathon … thank you for the push to challenge myself xo…. see you on the trails

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