Running is one of those sports where you see and hear all kinds of inspiring stories. My running buddy, Sarah Duncan, is one of those flesh-and-blood inspiring stories.
A few years ago, this vivacious little gal got the shock of her life when she marched into the Hendricks Regional Health Women’s Center for her annual mammogram. With no personal or family history of cancer, she was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. This 44-year-old single mom of two endured months of chemotherapy and radiation to rid her body of this unwelcome guest.
When treatment ended and Sarah was pronounced cancer free, this little gal chose not to return to life as she knew it – she created a whole new life that was even more fulfilling than before. Armed with the power of being a cancer survivor, Sarah made a couple important decisions. For starters, she married her sweetheart, Joe. Then, she promised herself that with a second chance at life, she wouldn’t let her body go downhill – fitness was her new best friend.
Miss Sarah bought a pair of running shoes and started hitting the streets. She trained and trained and sweat off dozens of pounds. On September 22, 2012, she ran her first half marathon, the Hendricks County Half Marathon. When I was cheering her onto the finish, that’s the moment I thought to myself, “This girl is tough as nails, I have a new hero!”
Sarah and I ran our first half marathon together a few months later at the Santa Hustle. Dressed in some crazy Christmas garb, we crossed the finish line with huge smiles on our faces. It was official, Sarah had caught the running bug. She was hooked and I’m pretty sure I started to feel a platonic girl-crush on this amazing woman.
In February, 2013, we traveled to Ft. Lauderdale to run the A1A Half Marathon and it was there that Sarah noticed another runner with a shirt that read “13 13s in 13.” She inquired about the meaning of the shirt and found out there was a whole movement of half marathon runners across the country who were going to run 13, 13-mile races in 2013. Sarah said, “I can do that!” And run them she did. From Indiana to Florida, Illinois to Kentucky and many points in between, several members of our running group have ran, and ran, and ran to help Sarah reach her goal.
Despite frigid temperatures, wind and snow, on December 15, Sarah completed her 13th half marathon in 2013! Had it not been for Sarah, several of us might have set that one out, but we wanted to be there to share that special moment with her. Her enthusiasm lifted all of us across the finish line.
Sarah has effectively thumbed her nose at cancer and said it can’t define her. Cancer didn’t have a chance – it definitely picked on the wrong person when it thought it could beat this little gal. For now, we’re hoping Sarah will let us all take a little break from running over the holidays, but if not, we’ll do our best to keep up with her!
Pictured: Sarah recently completed her 13th half marathon of 2013 at the Indianapolis Santa Hustle.