Why I Run: Bethany’s Story 31


Why I Started Running

Cancer is a mean son of a bitch. It came for my Dad 8 years ago. While he endured treatment, I looked at my young sons, still in diapers, and I tried to imagine their lives without him. I needed to hurt so I didn’t have to imagine that world for my kids. So I ran. I ran because I hated running almost as much as I hated cancer.

I ran every day.

I hate cancer. I hate running. I hate cancer. I hate running.

I hate cancer. I hate running. I hate cancer.

I hate cancer. I hate running.

I hate cancer.

Dad dodged cancer’s lethal bullet.

And I became a runner.

Why I Continue Running

My husband and I have four sons. Raising them is the most important thing I’ll ever do. But I am still Bethany. Beneath the title of “Mom” and all that fits under its oversized umbrella, Bethany is still in there. The girl who loved bike rides in the woods behind our first house. The girl who was a tomboy and loved hitting line drives. The girl who loved doing cartwheels on the beach. The girl who loved spelling bees and Honors English class. The girl who loved telling a story funny enough to bend her friends in half with laughter. I run to connect with her. I run so I remember she still exists.

I run because I’m still faster than my first son….though not for long. I run because I can still run farther than my second son…but he’s quickly closing that gap. I run because my third son wants me to run after him, embrace him, and shower him with the kisses and tickles that only a Mom can give. I run because if my fourth son isn’t strapped into a stroller, he knows only one speed…fast…and it falls on my shoulders to chase him.

I run because I’m still out to impress that boy I fell in love with almost 20 years ago. The one I married who’s given me four babies. I run because he encourages me to run. I run because he runs, and I love sharing it with him. I run because he loves the way my butt looks in my jeans.

I run because I gained so much weight with my pregnancies that I couldn’t run. It wasn’t the kicking of my unborn sons or my need to pee that woke me during the night. It was my desire to shed the imprisonment of the human incubator I had become to run again.

I run because I like to race. I like the training. I like the race day butterflies. I like to PR. I like the post-race exhaustion. I savor the post-race beer with dinner.

I run because I make kick ass brownies from scratch, and I like to eat them.

I run because, if I hear one more, “Ew, I don’t want this dinner,” I will curl up in a corner and cry.

I run because my second son runs cross country. And I get to train alongside the little boy whose imagination knows no boundaries. And, when I’m running with him, I can take off my Mom hat and splash through the trail puddles with him. Then I can put that hat back on and feel my eyes fill at the sight of this boy I grew from scratch growing up and away from me…the way nature intended but my heart doesn’t yet know how to accept.

I run because being an adult is hard. And being a runner makes it easier.

Running brings me clarity. Balance. An outlet. Trusted confidants. A feeling of power. A sense of achievement. Strong legs. Toned arms. A healthy heart. More freckles. Smaller boobs.

I run because a little piece of me would die if I didn’t…and it’s the piece of me I like the most.

Cancer remains a mean son of a bitch. But running….running has become a friend for life.


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31 thoughts on “Why I Run: Bethany’s Story

  • Ravs

    Well said Bethany.  Sometimes exercise is our only outlet to our inner selves and provides the hope to hang on to our youth.  It is our retreat and sense of accomplishment as we grow and change.  Way to go and so happy that your father kicked cancer’s ass!!

    • Bethany

      Thank you! I’m glad Dad kicked cancer’s ass too! I haven’t worked “outside the home” in over a decade…so running helps me set goals and achieve them in a timely manner. It’s going to take another 10-20 years to see how all these kids of mine turn out:-)

  • Annebenj

    I love it! And would like to say “ditto” for most of it! Well said – and now I am missing my trail runs with you!

  • Flyermyers

    Well written, Beth.  I always enjoyed our runs on the beach, talking the entire time.  Learning more about each than we would just having beer.  

    • Bethany

      Thank you, Fly Boy! I love our beach runs too! These days we’ll be pushing two double strollers, pulling a couple wagons, and chasing after the Kenyan…who smoked me at last week’s track practice. Say it isn’t so!

  • Maryanne Matteo

    Beautiful,  Bethany.  I hate cancer, too.  Stole my Dad and many other family members.Tried running when I was younger, before serious arthritis in my foot.   I never understood running or why anyone would do it.  I understand now.  Love your writing and the passion that lies within every word!

  • Jeanmarieconlin

    That’s BEAUTIFUL!  Cancer took Mary Moon before she could see lots of her grandchildren and that sucks.  But I know why you run and I do it for the same reason:)

    • Bethany

      Jean, I remember Mary Moon! She would have loved those grandkids…and had them doing the dishes by the time they could walk! Thanks for reading…and I know you get it, sister;-)

  • jacquie o

    Bethany it brought tears to my eyes and I am not even pms’ing. Thanks for sharing, I really enjoy your writing.

  • Grace D'Alessandro Samanns

    I am an alum and parent from GMAHS and Karen Benson suggested we read your story. That was beautiful. So glad you could turn loss into something sustaining. Are you by any chance related to the McCormick’s from St. Alphonsus Parish? I was a sixth grade teacher there.

    • Bethany

      Hi, Miss D’Alessandro, it’s Bethany McCormick from St. Alphonsus. I am all grown up, and my husband and I have way too many kids. Yes, I wrote this piece. And yes, Dad is still cancer free. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I will have to thank Karen for the shout! Hope you are well!!

  • Emilyeevans88

    So very touching, Bethany. I hate cancer. My Mom is 14 years cancer-free, but now it has attacked my precious Dad and we are fighting hard every minute of every day. The thought of running exhausts me, however, you have inspired me to start with a walk a day to clear my head. I admire you, and your honest writing is so supportive and uplifting! I always look forward to seeing a new post from you! Thank you!

    • Bethany

      Em, my sweet friend, your Dad is giving cancer hell! Running is exhausting, but in a beautiful way. And walking is a great start! Get that balance any way you can. Thank you for your support!! XOXO

  • Julie

    I saw your story on my high school friend’s facebook page:  Jill H O’D.  I have always used running as a way to keep myself in a routine and focused.  However, when my parents were both diagnosed with cancer within 2 months of each other 8 months ago, I knew I needed to run to stay ahead of the powerful emotions I was feeling.  My parents continue to fight and I continue to run.  I very much needed to hear your story and wish you many more miles! 

    • Bethany

      Julie, I’m so sorry for what your family is going through! I love how you call running a way to “stay ahead of the powerful emotions”…bingo. Many more miles to you as well, and best of luck to both of your parents in kicking that son of a bitch cancer’s ass.

  • Lanie

    I read this thanks to the same Jill from Julie’s comment.
    That was truly inspiring.  Thanks for sharing.
    I started running as a way to pay it forward.  I signed up, trained, begged people for money and ran a marathon in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  It was my way of thanking everyone who helped support me and my family when my son was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
    More than 2 years later – my son is healthy and now he is a runner too!

    • Bethany

      Lanie, I’m going to cry! Your story is both tragic and heartwarming. SO happy for your family that your son is healthy…and a runner to boot! Truly inspiring. I hope that your hardest days remain in your rear view mirror. Thanks so much for reading, and for sharing. 

      Jill’s a trip, isn’t she?! Love her!  

  • Nicole L Bates

    I love your story Bethany! I’m sorry to hear about your Dad, but I’m thankful he’s doing alright. It’s clear you come from a family of fighters, and that you’ve inherited that iron determination yourself. Keep running. Keep writing. You’re awesome. 

    • Bethany

      Thanks so much, Nicole! My Dad’s doing great…driving my Mom nuts, which means all’s well. So glad we’ve become virtual buddies…thx for your kind words!

  • Kelly

    Thank-you for your story Bethany.  I hate cancer.  I hate running.  I am running for my ex-husband who is in an awful battle with Neuroendocrine Carcinoma.  I run for him and I run for our kids.  I hate cancer.  I hate running.  http://www.davepalmer.org. 

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