June 10, 2018

Two hours after Lisa passed away, her husband Lincoln and their children all went on a run together. It was the most fitting tribute they could have made.

Lisa had been through the chemo, been through the radiation, and had started a targeted therapy drug. It had been a tough road, but she had, for a couple years, a mostly-normal life.

And that meant she was going running.

“She would run on the Murdock canal trail path,” her husband Lincoln says. “And on every intersection there's a yellow pad for accessibility traction. Anyone who walked with her or ran with her knew exactly what to do when she got to those.”

“You jumped up,” Lincoln says, “you stomped on it, and you said, ‘Take that, cancer!’”

So when the cancer recently took Lisa — literally just a couple hours after — Lincoln and their loved ones put on their running shoes (with a couple of them each wearing one of Lisa’s shoes), and went out on the Murdock Canal Trail. “We got to those yellow pads and we all jumped up in the air and we shouted, ‘Take that, cancer!’”

Somehow, it’s fitting that this tradition of jumping and stomping in defiance of cancer doesn’t happen at the beginning or end of the trail, but at intersections. And it’s a good opportunity for Lincoln to look back and talk about the amazing journey they took together.

Be sure to listen to Lincoln and Lisa’s story on Apple Podcasts or Google Play, or play it right here:


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One-Two Punch

There’s no such thing as an easy way to find out you or a loved one has cancer, but Lincoln and Lisa got a double blindside that feels especially brutal. “She felt a little bump on her shoulder — smaller than a pea,” Lincoln says, “and she decided to go have it checked out. And the doctor that looked at her said, ‘Well, the good news is that skin cancer is one of the most curable cancers there is.’”

As it turns out, though, this diagnosis was way off. “Within a short period of time,” Lincoln says, “they determined that it was actually lung cancer. I’ll never forget the day the doctor turned the computer screen around to us and showed us the large mass in her lung.”

In that moment, Lincoln describes himself as a mess, barely able to deal with the news — which is understandable. He says that Lisa, meanwhile, just got down to the business of getting started with her cancer treatment. “She was just positive,” is how Lincoln describes Lisa. “With every person and in every situation. She never thought for a moment that she wouldn't beat it.”

Hitting Back...by Running (and Stomping)

Following chemo and radiation, targeted therapy drugs allowed Lisa to live without serious side effects for a couple years. And while Lincoln is more of a mountain biker, Lisa loved running, and would head out as often as possible to run on the Murdock Canal.

They also ran the American Fork Canyon Run Against Cancer, along with Lisa’s father, who has undergone treatment for skin cancer. “The three of us ran together, side by side, for the entire 10K,” says Lincoln.

Lincoln ran ahead to take pictures of Lisa and her father at the finish line. “They ran that final stretch holding hands,” says Lincoln, “and as they crossed they raised their hands up in the air.”

Later, looking at her finisher’s medal, the significance of having finished this run really struck Lisa. “She had had such a struggle that previous year,” says Lincoln. “We were always hopeful, but we knew there was a terminal diagnosis.”

Finishing in the face of this painful reality made this race supremely meaningful to both Lisa and Lincoln. “She held that medal up,” says Lincoln, “and she said to me, ‘you make sure this is displayed at my funeral.’”

Focus On The Good

As Lincoln describes her, Lisa’s strength and positivity in the face of her cancer weren’t a new trait at all. “She had an incredible ability,” says Lincoln, “to always see the good in every person she ever met. And as I watched her go through her treatments over five years — and every time the cancer would spread — she would just focus on the good.”

“And there was a lot of good,” Lincoln affirms. “We had five years to experience living with more love and more determination than I think most people get. We both felt that because it gave us an opportunity to live and to love more deeply than we ever had the first 25 years of our marriage.”

This of course does not mean things were easy. “There's no question,” says Lincoln, “that these five and a half years were the most difficult. But at the same time, they were the happiest. And I attribute that to the way [Lisa] so valiantly lived life.”

And the fact that Lisa needed Lincoln’s help was an important part of what made this time good. “That was my opportunity to do things for her. And I did more for her in the last five and a half years than the 25 previous years. And what I found was how much I loved her, how much my love for her grew.”

Summarizes Lincoln, “You truly are happiest when you're serving other people.”

 

June 4, 2018

With the help of a good brother, Teresa started running to move past a bad situation. And now she’s paying it forward.

It was the Spring of 2015, and Teresa was not doing well. “I was going through a difficult, painful, heartbreaking divorce,” she says, “and I was wallowing in self-pity and self-doubt.”

Teresa’s brother, Adam, thought what Teresa needed was to challenge herself. According to Teresa, Adam said, “You need to figure out who you are. You need a challenge; you need something that's going to push you to your limits and really help you find that inner strength again.”

“There's nothing else that will help you do that,” said Adam, “except for running.”

“I just laughed in his face,” says Teresa. “I hadn’t run since junior high PE class.”

Now — years later and having run multiple half marathons, Teresa thinks that Adam was right. And she’s paying that important insight forward in a big way.

Listen to our conversation with Teresa on Apple Podcasts or Google Play, or listen to it right here:


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Running For Yourself

There are a lot of good reasons to run the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer. The cause — raising money to help people currently fighting cancer — is a great reason. The extraordinary view is another.

One really great reason that tends to get overlooked, however, is running this race for yourself. Teresa’s story, however, is a great example that the experience of training, running, and completing something new and difficult can make a difference in your life.

Getting help from someone who cared about her was an important part of this transformation.

“Running and preparing for the first half marathon gave me focus beyond what was going on in my own personal life,” Teresa says. “It told me, ‘if I can do this really hard thing — running — I can also do this other really hard thing — getting divorced. It just completely changed my focus and helped me push through it.”

“It was really hard,” Teresa notes. “It definitely pushed me to my limits, but I did find that inner strength.”

Paying It Forward

Teresa doesn’t just run in the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer; she also has made time to volunteer for it. “I chose to help with packet pickup,” says Teresa, “because you get to see everybody come through the line and talk with them and hear their stories.”

“Plus,” Teresa says, “I’ve never seen more hardworking volunteers than I have at this race. There are some people that don't even sleep the night before because of the setup, and they're just exhausted and that's inspiring to see. They're doing this for such a great cause. You get to be a part of it, you're seeing the behind-the-scenes action, and it's been really fulfilling.”

A Little Help From Her Family

It wasn’t just her brother Adam who joined Teresa in her transformative first half-marathon. “He got my entire family involved,” says Teresa, “and that first year I had two sisters run it with me, two brother-in-laws, a nephew, and Adam."

“And then in the last half mile of the race,” Teresa says, “My boys, Taylor and Zack, found me, running alongside in the audience, just hooting and hollering and cheering us on and making us laugh…and making me cry.”

For each of the following two years, different family members have joined Teresa, taking in the unifying and empowering spirit of the event. Teresa notes that they have a tradition of sticking around at the finish line, where she likes to see the look on others’ faces that she has felt by doing this herself — and with her family.

 

May 28, 2018

Last year, Ty and Shawn ran the “Kids K” at the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer. This year, they’ve got a surprise for their mom.

Shawn was nine years old last year when he and his eleven-year-old brother Ty ran their first AF Canyon Run Against Cancer. At the starting line, Shawn says, “I was so nervous.” But that nervousness didn’t make Shawn move to the back of the starting line.

Just the opposite, in fact. “I was pushing my way to the front of the line,” says Shawn. Then the race began.

Ty describes his recollection of the cheering crowds at the race — somethingthat will give any runner a boost of confidence and adrenaline: “I remember a lot of people on the side [of the road], just cheering me on. And that gave me the confidence to finish the race and not quit.”

“I was reallyout of breath when I finished,” Ty says. He hangs his head, sticks out his tongue, and breathes out, “I was like, ‘give me my medal.’”

“I was sotired,” agrees Shawn.

Evidently, racing doesn’t change much with age. You’ll definitely want to listen to our conversation with Ty, Shawn, and their mom on Apple Podcasts or Google Play, or play it right here:


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Bigger, Better, Faster, Farther

Last year, both Ty and Shawn executed a very simple race-day strategy: run as fast as you can right out of the gate, then keep going as fast as you can right to the end. Which is a not-bad strategy for a 1K race.

During this interview, they revealed their plans are a little different. “I think I’m going to run the 5K instead of the 1K distance this year,” they both say, essentially in unison.

They both understand, however, that this will require a more sophisticated running plan. “I'm planning to pace myself better this time. That will help me run a longer distance,” Shawn says.

“And a little bit more training,” says Ty.

A Little Help From Mom & Dad

Rachel — Ty and Shawn’s mom — is a little surprised by the boys’ interest in stepping up from the Kids K to the 5K distance for this year’s race — she raised her eyebrows and smiled as they revealed their plan — but takes it in stride. Training is a good chance to spend time with them.

“I love it,” Rachel (who has run the half-marathon version of the event) says. “It becomes more of a family activity instead of just a race that I'm doing myself. I love running and it's fun to share that with my kids and see them enjoying it.”

Asked about what it’s like to go on a five mile run — their longest training run last year — with his mom, Shawn says, “I just kept pushing and then about four and a half miles was just like, ‘I'm going to wait for her to finish and then come back.’”

Big Finish

Race day — and the day before — is busy for the whole family. Rachel gets to wrangle the kids solo, because her husband — who works in PR for Intermountain Healthcare — is working through the night as a volunteer, setting up the course.

No matter what distance — or what age — you’re doing the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer, crossing the finish line is still a big deal. Says Shawn, “It feels like you just did something really great. It feels huge.”

“Yeah,” agrees Ty. “When you get the medal, you're like, “YES. I really actually accomplished this.”

Which, in fact, more or less exactly describes what every person feels as they cross the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer finish line.

 

May 21, 2018

Chris Bennett would rather be surfing than running…but he’s got good reasons to run the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer. (And only one of them is to beat his brother-in-law).

Chris Bennett is an athletic guy…but surfing is his sport of choice. He has bad knees. He’s never run a half-marathon before. He doesn’t even like running, to tell the truth.

And yet, he’s going to run AF Canyon Run Against Cancer half marathon this year. He’s got his reasons. For example, 97thFloor — the company he’s CEO of — is the title sponsor of the event. And more importantly, he’s got a plan for beating the COO of the company through some very intense training.

And most importantly, he’s doing this race for a reason a lot of us can identify with: cancer has hit too close to home, too many times.

Listen to our conversation with Chris on Apple Podcasts or Google Play, or listen to it right here:


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Running for the Reluctant

Chris is an all-around athlete, having run several 10Ks and obstacle races, but surfing is what he really loves. This will be his first half-marathon, and he is not a fan of long runs. “I have bad knees from basketball, so the less long-distance running I can do before the race — but still be prepared — is what I'm trying to shoot for,” he says.

Chris is using intensity — not a lot of long runs — to prepare for the race. “I'll be doing a lot of sprints and a lot of weighted stairs, weighted walks and things like that,” he says. “When I run on the concrete for a long time, I definitely notice my knees. So I'm going to try to just show up [to the race] in good health and without my knees already hurting. I think that will be a win in and of itself. “

Chris isn’t too worried about the “race” part of the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer. When asked about his hoped-for finish time, Chris says, “I don't even know what a good finish time is. I'm so far removed from that world.”

Important Motivations

So, since Chris is not a huge fan of running, how did 97th Floor — the company he’s CEO of — become the title sponsor of the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer?

“I grew up very lucky,” says Chris, “not having any cancer stories close to me. So for a while I kind of escaped that.

Like most people, though, cancer eventually touched his life. “Right before my wife and I got married — about 15 years ago — her Dad was diagnosed with stage-four prostate cancer. I mean, he was given weeks. He got into eating really healthy, and we got him a lot longer — almost a year from what his diagnosis was," Chris says. "He got to see us married, he got to walk my wife down the aisle, and we're very grateful for that time.”

“And then my father also got prostate cancer,” Chris says. “He was lucky enough to find it very early on, pre-stage one and had surgery and has since been cancer-free for about five years. So I’m very grateful for that.”

But cancer has definitely hit close to home. And that’s a big part of why 97th Floor not only supports this event, but also donates part of its “One Percent” initiative — where 97th Floor donates one percent of its gross income to a charity of its employees’ choosing — to the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer.

“We’re really big fans of what the money goes to and what it's used for,” says Chris. “There are a lot of cancer fundraisers out there that I'm not so proud of where the money goes to or what it's used for. And we are very proud of what this goes to: the families and individuals, to help them out, to help them cope with what’s going on.”

Chris concludes, “I really like that a lot.”

 

May 15, 2018

Jane is fast. Really fast. And the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer is her very favorite race…but not because she’s finished on the podium

For most of us, events like the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer are all about completingthe distance we choose. The victory comes in the form of crossing the finish line at all, or perhaps in finishing with a personal best.

There are a few people, however, for whom this is truly a race. Jane Durfey, a three-time podium finisher, is definitely one of these few.

Even so, however, that’s not why this is her favorite race. Not even close.

Listen to our conversation with Jane — including some valuable advice on how to have a successful run — on Apple Podcasts or Google Play, or listen to it right here:


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Starting Young

As far back as she can remember, Jane had a competitive streak. “As a kid,” she laughs, “I was always the first one to the drinking fountain. I raced on the playground, and then sat there at the drinking fountain for a long time and didn't let anyone else get a drink.”

Growing up, she knew she was fast, that she had a talent. Holding several records in the hurdles, Jane says, “I didn't always love running, but I knew that I was good at it,” Jane says. “I knew it was going to pay for college, so that was a motivation.”

And that was in fact the case. Utah State gave Jane a full-ride scholarship, where she was a sprinter…a very different kind of distance and effort from the long-distance running she’s doing now. “It's been an evolution,” Jane says, “trying to switch over to long-distance running. But when you're 40 you can't sprint very well. You have to make do.”

Although most people would agree that finishing on the overall women’s podium each of the three most recent years of the race is not exactly “making do.”

Advice For Runners

As an experienced runner who knows the AF Canyon like the back of her hand, Jane has a number of great tips for anyone who’s running this half-marathon:

  • Train your quads: “People think, ‘Oh, it's downhill for seven miles, my pace is going great…but then you hit that flat and you realize what the downhill has done to your legs. So be sure to run some inclines. It makes you stronger, and makes the descents even that much more doable. Obviously also run declines quite a bit just to get your thighs and your calves ready.”
  • Know the course, and stay toward the middle of the road: It’s a great idea to be familiar with the canyon. And in particular, right around the Timpanogos Cave visitor center, “It's important to go in the middle of the road. The road really slants, and if you stay on that slant for two miles when you get out of the canyon, your calves are really going to pay for it.”
  • Eat: “I’m a big fuel person,” Jane says. But don’t go experimenting with what to eat or how often on race day — get to know what works for you during your training. “It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what's right for you,” Jane notes.
  • Downhill makes a difference: Speaking of eating, get to know how your stomach reacts to food when you’re running downhill. “The downhill makes a difference,” says Jane, “because it pounds on your stomach, right? You're going fast. So typically I'll take some pre workout and then I'll take about three GUs and, you know, sometimes I'll chew on a Starburst — just some quick sugar that won't upset my stomach.”
  • Hydration is key: “The half-marathon is short enough that it’s not what I’m drinking during the race; it’s what I’m drinking the week before. I try to drink 100 ounces of water with electrolytes each day the week before a race.”

What Matters

Jane runs several marathons and half-marathons per year, but says that without question, the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer is her favorite. “It's there in my backyard. [My running friends and I] were in the canyon just this morning — so we run it all the time. We know every turn, every slant in the road, so we love it.”

As she talks about her running, Jane almost always refers to “we,” not “I.” “It is a social thing,” she says. “We meet a lot throughout the week— every Saturday, Thursday, and Monday.” And it’s not just a “run if you can keep up” kind of group, either. “We have people running at all paces,” says Jane. “It’s definitely not an elite group. I think that it's important — especially for women — to find their niche, to find people they have things in common with.”

There’s a big payoff for training together like this. “It's very emotional,” Jane says. “And that's why I do it. I love to run, but even more, I love what it brings out in people.”

Even beyond the racing and social aspect of running, running has a spiritual aspect for Jane. “It’s very spiritual to me,” she says. “I've had answers to prayers many times on a run. So it's not all about pounding the pavement for me.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” she says. “I love the feeling of running fast. it's motivating and I get a sense of accomplishment, but that's definitely not my driving force of why I run the AF Canyon Run Against Cancer. I appreciate the signs. I love seeing people that run it for the first time. It's my favorite thing to see someone come across the finish line where maybe they thought they could never do it before, or are struggling themselves, or they know somebody that's struggling with cancer.”

“This race wouldn't be the same,” Jane says, “if you don't have a real reason to do it.”

 

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