One of the things I love about races is that somehow history has linked running and philanthropy. Running this marathon gives me a great excuse to raise money for an important cause and provides my friends and family a concrete reason, albeit somewhat detached from rationale, to give my cause money. You can call it guilt, you can call it support, you can call it a tax-deducation. Now it may seem selfish that I ask you to donate money to my cause just because I have made the personal choice to accomplish a specific task in my life but I ask you to consider how many gifts you have given to other women for accomplishing other milestones in life (marriage, baby, etc.) At least running a marathon is not steeped in centuries old patriarchal tradition that celebrates ownership and subjugation of women. Plus, I am not registering for 30 different types of salad bowls or a Tiffany & Co. cake knife. But let's not get distracted from the matter at hand.
I have run for a variety of other causes in races past but none have been as close to my heart as this, this year I am running and raising for the Alliance for Lupus Research. One of my best friends from college, Julia, has lupus, and I want to honor the person she is, the struggle she has had, and the many lessons she has taught me. I know that I am a better person because Julia is in my life and if anything can give me the strength to run 26.2 freakin' miles (besides the quest for a rock hard ass) is the value I place on my friendships. When I say that being friends with Julia has taught me to be a better person, I actually mean that and it is not just some sappy remark to make this post more interesting. When I first met her I hated her. I knew nothing about her except that she had killer style, all my friends loved her and she was just as big of a bitch as me. This was back when I flew my "I am a mean and judgmental bitch" flag high and proud, but only did so to cover up my own insecurities. After constant urging from our mutual friends and a bonding over Harry Potter I finally let my guard down and quickly learned that this girl was someone who shared my interests and tribulations, my confidence and my uncertainties. This realization taught me that by trying to "protect" myself by holding everyone at arm's length I was really missing out on amazing experiences and relationships. Over the years we have been able to understand each other in a way that our other best friends are simply not able to. We are more similar than either of us ever knew (and maybe that is why I perceived her as such a threat) but I take great comfort in knowing that when I am hurt or confused about something and I don't know how to explain my own feelings, it doesn't matter because my best friend knows exactly how I feel. We have shared countless conversations where I just knew she knew what I was talking about, even though I could barely put my thoughts together in my own head. She was and continues to be a mastermind behind the HBIC Movement and her genius inspires me everyday. Plus she is super hot and still has killer style.
While I don't feel it is appropriate to divulge all the details of her disease I want to share some brief information, mainly since many of us probably have little knowledge about lupus. Following other health problems in high school, Julia was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease that can attack any organ in the body, at age 21. Her symptoms included extreme fatigue, inability to concentrate and arthritic symptoms. Following treatment with injectable chemotherapeutic agents, she went into remission. This fall, at the age of 26, Julia developed severe arthritic symptoms with inflammation. In addition to attacking her joints, Julia's body was now attacking her kidneys, causing inflammation and threatening permanent damage to the kidneys. A kidney biopsy confirmed a diagnoses of lupus nephritis. She is presently on a variety of harsh, fucked-up medications, all of which can cause various fucked-up side effects. She is the healthiest person I know and does all that she can to help her body (another inspiring part about being her friend). Watching her go through another flare-up was scary but her strength and perseverance were truly inspirational. So today on her 27th birthday, I kick off my marathon training and my fundraising campaign for the Alliance for Lupus Research and for my friend. If you are so inclined (and after an emotional outpouring like this who wouldn't be??) then please donate to my campaign. My goal is to raise $1000 by my race on May 18th. More info on ALR can be found here including lots of details about lupus, their research and their finances.
I will continue to update you on my marathon training progress, as there are sure to be hilarious missteps on my part.
And to my best friend, Happy Birthday and thank you for everything you are.