I started running about three years ago as a way to get in shape after having kids. Running is a type of exercise that doesn’t necessarily require equipment, unless you want a treadmill, and can be done at any time – day or night. If you are like me and have kids, you never really know how your day is going to go or what you will have time to accomplish. Running fits in to that kind of schedule, because it can happen whenever and for however long you want it to last.

I was really slow when I first started and by most people’s standards I’m still pretty slow. But I am ok with that. For me, it is about getting out there and being active. I have no specific time goal when I run, I just want to finish. I trained for my first half marathon and after that first race I was hooked. Sure I was in lots of pain and crazy tired, but I loved the feeling of accomplishment. Just as I was really getting into racing, I found out in June of 2013 that I had cervical cancer. Say What??!! I was fairly healthy and running, how on earth did I have cancer?

Soon after I was diagnosed, I wound up having a radical hysterectomy and eventually went through six weeks of chemo and radiation. Cancer took six months of my life away from me. I couldn’t run because I was hardly eating anything and it took me a long time to recover fully from the surgery. I had to cancel several races because I just didn’t have the energy to walk, let alone train.

I already had races set up for 2014. I was going to run the Woodlands Half again and get my journey going…again. Funny thing is, I forgot about a race that I had signed up for in February. I wound up running that half marathon in just under three hours after only training for one month. Am I crazy? Yes, probably just a little. That was one of my most emotional races – for me to beat cancer and be able to run 13.1 miles with my kids meeting me at the finish line.

2014 was a crazy up and down year for me. My health was good at times, but then in the fall I had allergy problems so my training fell by the wayside. I was still running races, but they were getting harder and harder because I wasn’t training for them. I signed up for the 2015 Chevron Houston Marathon, but at the last minute switched to the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. I wasn’t sure I wanted to sign up for any more big races again, but when I saw the application to be an ambassador for the 2016 Chevron Houston Marathon I jumped on it…never thinking that I would be chosen.

Lo and behold I was. This means that I now have to run the full marathon. What was I thinking? You know what though? This has given me a new goal to work towards. I am scared to death to think about running 26.2 miles. It means that my training runs will have to be way longer than I have ever accomplished before in one single day. It also means that I am going to conquer and finish a bucket list goal.

I beat cancer, surely I can beat 26.2 miles.

So why do I want to run the Chevron Houston Marathon? Because I can. Because I am alive to do so. Because I have two kids that look up to me. Because I have family and friends that support me.

About April Ockerman
April has been running off and on the past couple of years and has completed 10+ half marathons. Her main running goal is to complete at least one marathon in her life!! Being a mom of two and wife are April’s main duties. She has a blog, loves to bake, is a member of the PTA, a cervical cancer survivor, and loves to volunteer her time.
Blog – www.insightsbyapril.com
Twitter – @insightsbyapril
Instagram – @aprilock

Running matters
By Bryan Kreitz

I want it to be about me, I really do. That sounds very egotistical, but think about it for a moment. Who doesn’t want all the hard work, early morning hours, and constant training to be about them? Whether it’s swimming, biking, running or a combination of all three, aren’t we all striving for better. It’s called PRs and PBs for a reason. They are our Personal Records or Personal Best. That doesn’t say Team Best or Team Record. We proudly proclaim on social media when we have a PR/PB, because it’s our individual record we have just surpassed. Hence, why I started this blog the way I did. I want every race I enter to be a PR for me.  I have skipped races due to the fact that I knew I wouldn’t PR the course. Seriously, who does that? This guy right here!

(Now, please understand, I know that there are groups and individuals out there that run for amazing causes like Wounded Warrior, Living Water International, RWB, etc. I am one of those people, but this is about our personal side of running and not running for a charity)

Which brings me to my point.  In wanting the training to be about me, I’ve lost a little sense of the greater good. I was reminded, and left speechless during the Run For A Reason Kickoff Party, that sometimes it’s not about individual goals at all.

I was approached by a young lady who said  “We’re friends on Facebook, but we haven’t been formally introduced.  I’m *Betty” (name changed to protect the innocent). At this point I just stared at her, because I had no idea who she was until she said her last name. Embarrassed, I apologized and let her know it was great to finally get to meet her. It’s what came next that left me in awe.

“You’re the reason I signed up for the marathon.”

What? Huh? Come again?  Words just didn’t work at that point.  She must have thought something was wrong as I tried to find words to express my gratitude for her comment. At that moment, there were no PRs/PBs I was worried about.  There were no concerns over what my training schedule looked like for the rest of the week. There was only a person in front of me that let me know that one of the main reasons she signed up to train and run a marathon was because of me. Let me tell you, that is honestly a better feeling that any PR I’ve ever hit on race day. It was a humbling experience and quickly reminded me that running matters. Not just in my life, but in the lives of those watching us run too.

It was a great reminder that the impact we can have on this world extends much farther than the personal bubble we live in a lot of time. I still want to run PRs, but there a bigger part of me that wants to help people find a goal and go after it.

So maybe this year’s Chevron Houston Marathon or Aramco Houston Half Marathon is your first race or maybe it’s your 10th. Either way, take the time to look outside your personal bubble and see who you can impact during your journey.

About Bryan Kreitz
Bryan started running with friends after being advised by his doctor that his weight (200lbs) was very unhealthy for his height (5’6″) and could lead to many health issues.  Starting slow, Bryan worked his way from 5ks to 10ks, and now has completed 6 Half Marathons, 3 Marathons, and 3 Half Ironman races. Bryan has the wonderful support of his wife and 2 kids and a host of other family members during his long training days and races.
Twitter – @kreitz09
Instagram – @kreitz09[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]