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Cancer survivor: What I learned about myself at the Boston Marathon

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Linda in Boston.JPGBy Linda Ryan

I'm working hard to get back to my pre-cancer fitness level. I've struggled to find motivation to run the way I did before and during chemotherapy treatment when my cervical cancer recurred.  

Oddly, I found my running rhythm during a weekend that was so tragic for our country and a city I love.   

Feeling grateful
It has been 17 days since I walked down Boylston Street past the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon. I was on Boylston Street 10 minutes before the explosions that killed and left many people injured.  

I'm blessed and was blessed on April 15 to not have been injured that day. 

I can say with certainty I walked by the two men who committed the horrible crimes in Boston.

Working hard to cross the finish line
The day before the marathon I ran the 5K sponsored by the Boston Athletic Association. Because speed isn't my gift, I figured it might be the only way I ever crossed the Boston Marathon finish line.   

I finished the 5K with a time of 33:13, a personal record for me by more than two minutes. 

I felt so strong when running that day. I rarely run with intentions of a time better than past races. This race was no different. I wasn't there for time. I was there for the experience. 

As I turned from Hereford onto Boylston, the finish line was in sight. It was so exciting, and this was only the 5K. I can't imagine the strength the crowds give the marathoners on that stretch.    

When I run races, the finishes sometimes help me gain momentum. I felt good. I was floating. 

My college roommate and her daughter and sister were very close to the finish and yelled from the sidelines. Another burst of energy for me. How special to share the experience with them. 

"Back on my feet"
I'm part of a Sub-30 5K Facebook group. It's made up of people who have a goal of running a 5K in under 30 minutes. When I joined, I thought that was an attainable goal but never really worked at reaching it. Wasn't it enough I was in the group and wanted to run a 5K in under 30 minutes? 

Not only did the personal record in Boston help me to realize I actually can run a sub-30 5K if I work at it, but it was a clear sign my body is getting stronger. It feels like another victory over cancer.  

Cancer may have knocked me down, but I am back on my feet and I am stronger. 

Mourning and motivation

I mourn for the many injured at the Boston Marathon. I mourn for the thousands who trained and had their efforts and accomplishments overshadowed by the attack. 

I also mourn for those who worked so hard to qualify and didn't to finish the race they had their hearts set on when they started their training months before.   

I may never run the Boston marathon, and that's okay. Being in Boston has motivated me to run again. Boston has made me believe I can do it.   

Linda Ryan thought she had checked cancer off her list. Having just run her first marathon, it was hard to imagine that her cervical cancer had returned after seven years. Cancer chose the wrong woman. She was ready to battle cancer for the third time with health, laughter and friendship. Follow Linda Ryan at MeStrong.net.

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