April 19 02:59 PM
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Almont dad inspires marathon runner to keep going strong

Dear Editor,

I just finished a 10 mile run. This has not been all that unusual over the past four years. My running partners and I try to stay half- marathon ready by completing long runs every Saturday morning.

Today was different for many reasons. Our usual half- marathon readiness faded over the summer due to an extremely hot Nashville summer. Running distances has seemed folly in the heat and humidity to my human running partners and my faithful canine companion. We took a break and ran shorter distances during the extreme summer heat.

About a month ago, I made the decision to run the Detroit Free Press Half- Marathon which has meant heat or not, we are back in the distance business. Coming back is hard after a few months of short, pleasure runs.

This morning my running partners stopped early due to the demands of their days and left me to finish the last five miles without them and without my Ipod. Quiet time alone turned out to be a blessing today. It gave me time to think about why I am out here pounding my joints, straining my muscles and spending precious free time in this challenging way. On October 21, I will run the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon in honor of my dad, Bob Walton of Almont.

Earlier this year, my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer. This amazing man who has been the rock in all of our lives is suddenly fragile. If you knew my Dad, you would love him as much as I do. He was a dairy farmer his entire life. He has always known hard work, determination, silent suffering, and an appreciation for all things good. He has been the kind of person you could depend on. He has been there for me, for hired men, for the minister, for friends, for family, for the community. He is always everything anybody needs. And now, this amazing man is in the fight of his life.

Cancer is a brutal disease. The diagnosis is devastating, the future unknown, the treatment, especially for an 80 year old, is unkind and debilitating. I know the short straw my dad has drawn is very hard for him. He has struggled with chemo and radiation. He lacks energy for the basic things in life. He finds it hard to eat enough to sustain himself. My concern for him is deep and my love for him deeper.

Today as I ran all alone, I thought constantly of him. I dedicated every step to a prayer that like my steps grinding away the dust beneath my feet, the chemo and radiation would crush every remnant of cancer cells. I prayed, like my sweat, the cancer would dissipate from him and evaporate into the unknown space. With every breath, I prayed he would not ever be breathless in the weakness the chemo and radiation would undoubtedly cause. I ran a steep hill and struggled half way up considering stopping. I remember the lack of choice my dad has right now in dealing with this health issue and pushed myself to the top. If my dad must, then I will!

It is so hard to find a useful way to help my dad. It seems unfair that I go on living my life as he struggles to hold onto his. My training for this half has been miles of remembering, of treasuring, of hoping and of praying. All of these miles have been my tribute to my dad. I want my determination to make it to the end of the 13.1 miles to honor my dad completely. If I could walk in his shoes and take his illness, I would. Absent of that possibility, I hope in some small way my dad gains strength from knowing he is loved enough for his crazy daughter to set aside other things in life and run! I love you Dad!

Robin L. Steaban, Brentwood, Tennessee
October 17, 2007

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