A Journey of Thousands of Miles

I signed up for the Bryce Canyon 100 on December 1st, 2014. After what feels like an endless amount of time spent busting my butt out on the trails, I finally have finished my training and am officially starting my taper. I feel like I have spent months trudging through deep snow and running through drenching rains. I am relieved, thrilled and overjoyed to have finally reached this point. There is such a sense of deep satisfaction that comes from knowing how hard I have worked to get here. I am extremely proud of the time and miles I have put in to prepare for this 100.

Final long run. Scheri looking up at snow-covered Pikes Peak.

Final long run. Scheri looking up at snow-covered Pikes Peak.

I signed up all of those months ago because I wanted to do something epic as a comeback from having Pancreatic Cancer. I honestly do not think I would have signed up for another 100 if I had not had cancer. My first 100 went so well that I did not really feel like I needed to do another one. Yet here I am, making my final preparations for my second 100. I wanted to prove to myself that my illness would not limit what I do going forward. While I hope to finish the race, the finish is not entirely what all of this is about. The race is but one 36 hour period in time. Anyone who knows anything about distance running or ultra running knows the months and months of dedication, hard work and preparation that go into training for an event.

Signing up for a 100 signified many things to me. It meant that I would commit to training. It meant that I would put myself out there, on the line, despite all of those fears and doubts that have lingered since I have gotten my new post-cancer body. It meant that I would face those fears and work through them over the weeks and months leading up to the race.

There are many personal reasons why I chose to attempt the 100 mile distance again. I am doing this because I will never forget how lucky I have been. I am, in part, doing this as I continue to reclaim who I used to be before I had cancer, and to celebrate how far I have come since I had my surgery and finished chemo. On those moments when I unite who I used to be with who I have become, I am powerful, bold, joyful and unstoppable.

Climbing the hills

Climbing the hills

I have experienced every emotion under the sun these last few months. I have felt excitement and elation. I have felt fear and anxiety.Through it all, whenever I doubted myself, I went for a run. Running makes anything seem possible. Don’t worry. Just run.

Last week, I hit my peak of 100 training miles in a week, with 19,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. That gave me a much-needed psychological boost. If I can run it in a week, I can do it in a day, or realistically, a day plus a few hours.

Trudging through knee-deep snow AGAIN

Trudging through knee-deep snow AGAIN

With my husband, who is my best friend and biggest supporter

With my husband, who is my best friend and biggest supporter

I completed my very last long training run yesterday. I am elated to be finished with the hard training. I could pick apart the things I wish I had done differently over the past few months, but instead I will just celebrate the fact that the hay is officially in the barn. I have given my training pretty much all I had. Now comes the rest, recovery and race organization piece. Bryce takes place in two weeks and it will take me that long to figure out exactly what I need to pack, what to put in drop bags, etc.

After months and months of 80-100 miles per week of training in everything from thigh deep snow to pouring rain, lightning and hail, I celebrate the fact that I was physically and emotionally well enough to test myself. I am proud of myself for committing to this race, for working incredibly hard, for putting myself out there without knowing if I will succeed or fail, and for doing something for a higher purpose, in making this a charity fundraiser. I want nothing more at this point than to finish this 100. I also need to remember that the journey of getting to this point was one of thousands of miles. The Bryce 100 will be a celebration of those thousands of miles and all that they represent.

I hope I win the half-a-pancreas division.

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If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to my Project Purple fundraiser, please visit the link below.

 https://www.crowdrise.com/survivortoniaruns/fundraiser/toniasmith

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8 thoughts on “A Journey of Thousands of Miles

  1. Tonia – you are amazing! I am so looking forward to your run. As I stated before I also want to join your Project Purple Team as soon as I complete “Burning River for Ben”. It will be so awesome to do a marathon with you. I am cheering you on every step of the way!

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    • Larry, thank you and I am so excited to follow you, Matt & Jeff at Burning River. I am also really excited for the Denver Marathon. My goal there is to just have fun & enjoy the experience. Marathon training sounds like FUN to me right now! 🙂 Finally, thank you for being an inspiration and mentor along the way. It reminds of the saying that successful people build others up. By that measure, you are an incredibly successful human being!

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  2. Tonia,
    Larry is right. You are amazing. There is something very special about running a hundred. I am looking forward to sharing the trails at Bryce with you and all the other runners. See you there.

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  3. Hi I read your story and it brought me to tears of happiness and sadness. I have a very dear friend that is battling pancreatic cancer. He was diagnosed in June 2014 just two weeks after his son was born. He was unable to do the surgery when they found the tumor. He is currently in clinical trials and we found out today that his tumor continues to grow and he is very ill. I was in car accident years ago and told I would never run long distances, but I wanted to try for my friend so in April I ran Zion 100k. I am now thinking about maybe another 100k and even my first 100 miler. Your story inspired me that I could run a 100 miler and join with Project Purple to continue to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer. I will follow your blogs. Your are blessed.

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