The couple who runs together stays together, right? Well, Mark and I certainly hope so! Today is Mark’s birthday. I would tell you how old he is, but I’m pretty sure he would be unhappy with me sharing that fact. He made me promise and swear I wouldn’t buy him anything for his birthday, which I’m unhappily complying with. Of course, I don’t count the cards (one from me and one from the boys) as buying a gift.
Mark's first 5k
Since I can’t buy him anything for his birthday, this is his gift. A whole blog post about him. I’m sure most of you are thinking you would rather have a gift card on your birthday. But, hopefully, Mark will appreciate this. And since this is primarily a running blog. I will talk about Mark Sharp, the runner.
Often people ask us who was the runner in the relationship first. The next most popular question is if we have always been runners. The answer to the first question is me. The answer to the second one is absolutely not. Sometimes people then ask if I “make” Mark run. This is always comical to me. In a great relationship it’s strongly discouraged to “make” your partner do something. I never tried to talk him into or bully him into running. I just shared how much I loved it, and he could see all the positive changes it had made in my life.
The truth is I fell head over heels in love with running (ok, I fell in love with the feeling of accomplishment I get from running, not so much the act itself), and it was contagious. At first, Mark was my cheerleader. He came to every race and found places to spot me multiple times during each race. It was a huge help to me mentally and emotionally. And then one day he got the itch to run.
But starting a running plan wasn’t as easy for Mark as it had been for me. Just as I started running, Mark got sick. It took us a long time to figure out what was wrong. In the end, he was diagnosed with heart failure. Trust me when I say this is never something you want to hear about the person you love. It was a very scary time. Also, this is a very condensed version of the story. Ask him to tell you the whole story sometime, it’s amazing!
Mark's first half marathon
After getting his condition stable and talking to his heart doctor, he decided he would join Fleet Feet’s No Boundaries Couch to 5k Training (the same place I started). He often says running saved his life. Which is at least partially true. His heart condition has improved tremendously. I’m so proud of him. Most people would have used a heart condition as an excuse not to run. Instead, he used it as motivation to become healthier.
Sidenote: It's been almost exactly one year since Mark's first race. The Firecracker 5k last year was his first. Happy running anniversary!
In the last year, Mark has completed 5 half marathons and several 5ks. And he's inspired tons of other people to reach their running potential. He’s mentored brand new couch to 5k runners and half marathoners. Additionally, we recently started training for our first full marathon with Team in Training. It will be October 31 in Dublin, Ireland. One of the many things I love about Mark, is his loving, giving and generous heart. When we first started talking about doing this full marathon as a fundraiser, he quickly agreed to do it too. He was anxious to use this race as a platform to help cure blood cancer and to make a difference.
Please consider making a contribution to our fundraising efforts. It would be a great birthday present for Mark! We have to raise a total of $10,000 so far we have raised just over $1,000. Click here to go to our fundraising page.
My favorite picture of us when we got engaged after the Mardi Gras Half
Happy Birthday Mark! I love you. I'm so proud of you. And I’m glad I get to spend the rest of my life with you!
When we are little, we are taught not to use the word hate. It's something I teach our boys. Hate is word I don't use lightly. Mostly, I'm a lover, not a hater. But, I can't bring myself to use any other word in conjunction with cancer. I don't dislike it or feel lukewarm about it. I simply hate it.
With that said, a lot of good and a lot of love come as a result of cancer, and for that, I'm thankful. I think you see the best in people during hard and trying times. However, if cancer ceased to exist, I'd be more than ok with it.
I can't list all the people I know who have battled cancer. It would take too long, and you'd probably stop reading. My heart is so full of love and prayer, for my friend, Sherry Ellis, who was just diagnosed with colon cancer a few days ago. She's handling it with a positive attitude and peacefulness that can only come through God. I'm in awe of her and proud to be her friend.
Everytime I hear of a friend having cancer or meet someone like Tanner Page and her mom Beth, I have the same feeling. The feeling is hard to describe...but it's a desperate, helpless feeling. I like to fix things and make them better. But cancer is something, I can't easily fix. I know I can pray and I do. But I NEED something to physically do.
So, I run. It seems simple. Running. How does it help? Beyond all the personal benefits, it gives me a platform to fundraise and create awareness. As I'm sure you all already know, Mark and I are training for our first full marathon with Team in Training. I'm immensely excited about the marathon and the trip. But I'm even more excited to know what I'm doing is making a difference and changing lives. Team in Training benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which specifically provides funds for research and patient support to blood cancer patients. But often the research reaches to other forms of cancer.