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Cancer and Bucket Lists

The smell of coffee made me want to go back to bed - my own bed - back home in the US. I sipped my coffee and made my final preparations before walking up to the starting line. Ruth gave me a hug and a kiss and I got on the elevator.

It was now 8:15 in Berlin, Germany. 6 hours ahead of the east coast of the US.

Making a mental checklist began immediately. Marathons are about strategy and mental toughness as much as they are about running.

"What the hell am I doing out here?," I thought. "I only ran one half marathon in 2016."

I have nothing to prove. Not to me, not to anyone. I couldn't think of one good reason to be on the Berlin Marathon course this past Sunday. A lot times runners say "trust your training"... this particular morning I couldn't. My training was a disaster. I didn't know anyone there. I had a hard time connecting with other runners before the race. Most of that was due to the language barrier. 

Still, I could have used a hug or something.

Strolling towards the Brandenburg Gate, I chatted with Emily, who is from the UK. It turned out to be a 3 mile trek to the starting line. Eventually, she had to go in one direction and I in another.

Dreading the fact that hours of running lay before me, I kept on.

As I moved towards the corrals, I thought about my six other marathon starts. The tiny, in comparison, Cape Cod Marathon where it was cool and sunny. My longtime friend Tom wished me well after the cannon boomed. Then there was my first Boston. I had so many hopes for that one. It was so exciting, it was so hot, and it ended in near disaster with a tibial fracture. In Chicago I stood with my Hope for Young Adults with Cancer teammates including my MFP buddy Dan E. I remember having to pee that cool and sunny morning, but there was no place to go. And there was the Zydeco Marathon with another MFP buddy, Bobby D. We took off in the warm twilight of the Cajun spring. I got a personal record that day. Another Boston in the cool rain in April 2015, then there was the desert heat of San Diego with a few Elvis impersonators, and NYC in November, 2015.

Amidst, the sound of soggy feet, nervous runners chattered in a half dozen languages - it was a different. 

I kept walking and finally sat on a plastic poncho in my corral, waiting for it all the begin. Just me and my doubts. So far I had stayed focused on the moment, not sure if I would regret this whole experience. Focusing on running the 26.2 miles (42.195 km), I was scared. I had missed a few long runs in training. My weekly and mileage was low. Worse, all my long runs ended urinary bleeding. Hell, I hadn't run 26.2 miles since November of 2015.


Off I went to the deafening thump of European-Techno. As I approached the roundabout and Victory Column, off in the distance, I could hear Chariots of Fire rise above the gray mist. Into the distant silence I went. Berlin is a very quiet city compared any of those in the US. Only an occasional siren or car horn ever breaks in. It was eerie.

Mile 1 was done.

I felt OK. The time change, the bathroom schedule, and the temperature were all working in my favor this morning.

I was still uncertain what the race would bring. I had acquired a friend-in-stride, Drew, from NY along about mile 3. We took it very easy and eventually split up about mile 10. Ruth was there on some street I can't pronounce, A quick hug and I was on my way. I was running along and some of the spectators cheered me by name (on the bib). "Bravo, David!" They shouted from the rain soaked, cobblestone sidewalk.

I kept counting the kilometer markers.

I closed my eyes and breathed a sigh of gratitude to my Savior. I had beat heart disease. I had beaten four types of cancer - so far. I could still run with my prostate tumor. That makes 8 full marathons with this damn disease. There is something in all this that make me very emotional.

I'm OK.

I checked my phone and had a Facebook message from Ruth. It was my only connection. I felt a little better.
Mile 22 was a blur and so was mile 23. I just put one foot in front of the other. I ran by Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church where the terrorist attack was in 2016.

As I came in Potsdamer Platz, Ruth was in front of me taking a few photos and waiting to hug me.

There it was. 40 kilometers! I stopped for a quick drink and took a selfie. There was a guy walking and he was in pain. I grabbed his arm. "Comrade, let's go get a medal."

He laughed but couldn't get going. 

I started running again. I didn't care if I locked up, but I was going to finish. I picked up my pace and raced on past the Lowenbrau building. I rounded the corner and there was Brandenburg Gate. I poured it on. I just wanted to be done. To drink. To relax.

They hung a medal on my neck.

I thanked God for allowing me to finish. Finish with cancer. Again. There are still 2 marathons on my bucket list, London and Tokyo. I am almost there.

99 votes + -


joanthemom8 wrote 49 months ago:
Leahbcc wrote 49 months ago:
luluinca wrote 49 months ago:
Brave and strong!
debk0718 wrote 49 months ago:
Very well done! I'm glad you were guided through and help up by Him. You deserve it!
aliciaaw wrote 49 months ago:
Congratulations!! you're someone real special, God is amazing!
denice0414 wrote 49 months ago:
Congratulations!!!! Well done my friend!!
PapaJay357 wrote 49 months ago:
LiveLoveFitFab wrote 49 months ago:
Very awesome stuff!
Anonymous wrote 49 months ago:
Thanks for representing the USA and perservence!
Hoppymom wrote 49 months ago:
Congratulations! You did it!!! I love knowing someone, even through the web, that has this kind of devotion to something so healthy and important. You continue to be an inspriation.
barneshall wrote 49 months ago:
vishalb08 wrote 49 months ago:
One of the best blog I have ever read !!! Given a chance I would love to run along side you one day sir !!! Keep up the fight sir !!!
pizzafruit wrote 49 months ago:
There isn't anything you can't do. I always look forward to reading your blogs. I can't wait for London and Tokyo. Continued blessings.
suttercm wrote 49 months ago:
Rosie5151 wrote 49 months ago:
I hope you are writing your book.... you are amazing!


KiKiWoods wrote 49 months ago:
Congratulations!!!! I always read your blog and could not wait to hear about your race adventure!!
purplenurse711 wrote 49 months ago:
I started reading your blog and could not stop reading! Absolutely powerful!

You motivate and inspire me so much.

Thank you for sharing.
Anonymous wrote 49 months ago:
Nita here - Not sure why it won't let me sign in, but just wanted to say WTG! Powerful stuff. Congratulations!
ILoveGingerNut wrote 49 months ago:
Well done!
ggeise14 wrote 49 months ago:
Congrats to you!
Thehardmakesitworthit wrote 49 months ago:
Emotional? are you kidding me? You, my friend, are one of the fortunate ones....feeling life, praising life, immersing yourself in yourself to feel living. Gratitude flooding into, through and out of you is an immeasurable blessing. Delight in it all and thank you for sharing every single word.
nancybuss wrote 49 months ago:
Congrats! I love your will, your strength and your writing and making us feel like we are there.
Here's to many many runs, and the Cancer be gone.
sweetmuseek wrote 49 months ago:
How wonderful! You are an inspiration! Congrats!
SheilaCali wrote 49 months ago:
Time to expand your bucket list- bravo and many more!
Maaike84 wrote 49 months ago:
Congratulations! As a newly diagnosed cancer patient myself, your determination and outlook on life is truly inspirational! thank you for posting.
Teli2017 wrote 49 months ago:
Your not just enduring what you can't change your living life to the full with joy!! Congrats, and thank you for the ongoing inspiration!
lousoulbody wrote 49 months ago:
Bravo David!
Laura80111 wrote 49 months ago:
Thank you for sharing your run with us. You do know how to inspire me.
The_Movie_Chair wrote 49 months ago:
Congrats, that's a great accomplishment.
need2move2 wrote 49 months ago:
Awesome... you are inspirational!
runningforthetrain wrote 49 months ago:
Incredible David. Congratulations!
franklin505 wrote 49 months ago:
Brought tears to my eyes well done David
lporter0813 wrote 49 months ago:
Kudos to you David!!! Your inspiring. I hope when I lose this weight I can even do a run...any run. Thanks for sharing your events and story.
Sharon_C wrote 49 months ago:
cory17 wrote 49 months ago:
great job, keep it up! rooting for those other two!!
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