Why We Do Hard Stuff

Why We Do Hard Stuff

Most of you probably don’t know this, but the reason CrossFit Lake Forest exists is because of cancer.  What a weird thing to say, right?  Let me explain.  


Well, it all started almost 20 years ago when I watched my Dad compete in the NYC marathon.  I had never seen anything like it before!  Thousands of people doing something so hard that they had dedicated a tremendous amount of time training for to achieve this amazing goal.  It was so inspiring! I made a promise to myself that day that someday I would run the NYC marathon.  


What I didn’t know at the time was that I would indeed run the NYC marathon, but that the catalyst to accomplish that goal would be cancer.  You see my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2008. It was pretty bad and it was during that time, him and I made a deal.  When he got better, we would start to run together and we even picked out the Chicago Half Marathon as our first race.  


He did get better, but unfortunately the chemo destroyed the nerve endings in his feet and my dad’s running days were over.  However, I had made a promise and I started to take action.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I found some online training plan and I just started.  I am pretty sure I was running in Keds (for those of you that don’t know what Keds are, they are NOT a running shoe!).


Anyway, one thing led to the next.  I ran that half marathon  in 2009 and was so naive that when I got close to the finish and started seeing other runners with medals on who had already finished, I thought they had won the race!  I did not know you got a medal for this stuff.  I didn’t know anything! I was just running because I had made a promise to my Dad.  He was waiting for me at the finish line and it was a great day!  


That day sparked something inside of me.  I had trained for something and accomplished it.  It was really hard and I didn’t think I could do it, but somehow I got to the finish line.  I was hooked!  I started running more, mostly as a way to deal with stress.  You see, my dad’s cancer came back with a vengeance and I was going through a divorce.  To say it was a dark time in my life is an understatement, but I took it one mile at a time.  


It is a helpless feeling when someone you love is fighting cancer.  There is not much you can do other than support them and be there when they need you.  I decided I needed to do something more and went back to that promise my Dad and I made to run together.  I signed up for the 2010 NYC marathon as a charity runner for the American Cancer Society and raised over $12,000.  


I ran the NYC marathon and my Dad was there at the finish line.  Since then, his cancer has stabilized thanks to his amazing doctor, Dr. Nancy Kemeny, at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City and his oncologist at Northwestern Hospital in Evanston.  He was dubbed the “Miracle Patient”  by Dr. Kemeny  for having a 1% chance of surviving his battle.  His quiet strength and unwaivering determination to fight cancer while not letting it define him, make him my hero.    


So… what does all of this have to do with CrossFit Lake Forest?? Well, that marathon experience turned something on inside of me.  I became addicted to running, which led me to other forms of fitness, namely CrossFit.  I also loved meeting people who loved fitness.  It was like a whole new world had opened up to me of like-minded people who cared about health and well-being.  When I found CrossFit, I had finally found my tribe.  This was where my love of fitness grew into a passion that eventually became my profession.  


I had been through a complete transformation in my life and my passion for fitness not only changed my life, but potentially saved my life during a very dark time.  I realized that if fitness could do that for me, perhaps there were other people out there that would want that experience too.  


So, CrossFit Lake Forest was born from a promise between a daughter and her dad to do something together so they could stand up to cancer.  Things have come full circle for me.  I am taking the challenge to run the New York City Marathon again this November on behalf of the American Cancer Society after losing my Dad’s brother, my Uncle Ray to cancer in 2015.  My goal is to raise even more money this fall and once again, my Dad will be waiting at the finish line.  Running 26.2 miles is no easy task, but it is nothing compared to what people fighting cancer go through.  This is my small contribution to a much bigger fight. 


Please consider joining me in this fight by donating to the American Cancer Society.  Just click on this link which will take you to my personal fundraising page for the American Cancer Society.  For anyone who donates $100 or more, you can dedicate your donation to someone who is fighting cancer or in memory of a loved one and I will put their name on my race day shirt.  (Email me here with your dedication.)  My goal is to have my shirt covered in names, so that, together, we can make a difference and inspire others to keep moving, one step, one mile at a time. 


I mentioned earlier that the hardest thing I have ever done is own a small business, but I think I need to amend that to, the hardest thing I have ever done was to cross that finish line.  Nothing was ever the same after that.  

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