What I'm Training For

I’ve been laying low for a little while, training hard for Boston. I’ve been getting faster, feeling great and I’m counting down the days until the race. But I have to be honest with you. I’m not really training for Boston. I’m training for San Francisco.

Now, don’t get me wrong. On April 18, I’ll be running the Boston Marathon. I’ve had a great training cycle. I’m ready to run a marathon faster than I ever have in 91 official 26.2-mile races. But I’m viewing Boston as a baseline measurement for the San Francisco Marathon, which I’ll be running on July 31. Why? Because I’m ready to beat cancer. I’m ready to do everything I can to show up to that race ready to run faster that I can possibly imagine, because it will make a difference for others.

Just in case you’ve never been here before, I’m a father of three and a marathon runner. My middle child, 7-year-old Jack, is severely autistic. As part of my way of dealing with what he goes through, I ran 61 full marathons and a couple of ultramarathons last year to raise money and awareness for a charity I’m a part of called Train 4 Autism. I named the endeavor Operation Jack, after him. I felt like I wanted my son to have an impact on the world, because realistically, he’s going to struggle his entire life. If I could make a difference with my running, then I knew he’d leave a footprint in this world, because I wouldn’t have done it if not for him.

Towards the end of last year, I found out that a woman in my small group at church named Sue Dailey had cancer. I’ll never forget finding out. I was in Boulder, Colo., and I got an email she sent out to us. I was with my wife and my oldest son (I had run Kansas City that morning and was running Denver the next day), but I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to impact the trip for my family. It was one of those “I’ll never forget where I was” moments. She had breast cancer a few years earlier, but she successfully fought that off.

It was pretty shocking and upsetting, but I had faith she’d be OK. Well, she went to Heaven on January 30. During those three months, I vowed to myself that I would do something this year to fight cancer. My dad has had cancer three times in the past seven years, but he’s been blessed to have successfully fought through it. His most recent surgery was on January 14 and he’s doing fine now. (Update: It’s now four times and the most recent surgery was April 14, but he’s cancer-free at this point.) I’ve thought about doing something because of what he’s gone through.

But I’m doing this for Sue. She left behind a husband and two young children. It was heartbreaking to go through this from the outside. I really can’t even get too much into words about this, because it starts to upset me. But back to the point, I’m raising money for two great charities — the Be Aware Foundation and the American Institute for Cancer Research. I’m going to raise money for them, and that money is going to save lives. Sue had a big impact here in this world — that’s obvious when talking to anybody who knew her, and it was clear at her memorial service. I want to do what I can to try to help her continue to make an impact.

I have a gift I’ve been blessed with that involves long-distance running, and I want to continue to try to use that to make a difference.

1 Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Raising money for those two charities will save lives, and I wouldn’t be doing this if not for Sue. The San Francisco Marathon contacted me about running in their race again this year. We talked and bounced around some ideas and I’m going to be a “charity chaser,” which means I’m going to start dead last and solicit pledges for every person I pass. The day after I talked to Sue’s husband about this and proceeded with his full approval, my goal race immediately switched from Boston to San Francisco. San Francisco is the one that really matters now.

Boston will tell me where I am in my progress for that race. But every step I train between now and San Francisco is going to be for Sue, and I can’t wait to work harder than I ever have before. I’ve been cross-training with weights, improving on my nutrition and pushing myself pretty hard over the past four weeks ever since I locked in on this. I’m lighter than I’ve been in three years, faster than I’ve ever been, and more committed to running well in San Francisco that I’ve ever been for any race.

So, that being said, PLEASE consider making a pledge. I have a simple little form you can click here and fill out to make a pledge. PLEASE consider this. Please share this page and spread the word. There are easy-to-use Facebook and Twitter links at the top of this page. I’m going to train like mad through the dog days of summer to be prepared to fly through that hilly course in San Francisco. Your part in this is easy.

Thank you for reading and thank you for your support. Please help me in this fight against cancer!


  1. says

    Sam, we are so grateful that you’ve chosen American Institute for Cancer Research as one recipient of your San Francisco Marathon fundraising efforts. Thank you so much for sharing your energy and passion with us. We look forward to following your progress and cheering you on as you attack those famed SF hills!

  2. says

    This is (another) great thing you’re doing here Sam, and it sounds like a really fun and unique way to raise money. I wish you the best of luck in Boston, but now I know to *really* be pulling for you in San Francisco! Makes me wish I was running that marathon, just so you could pass me :)

  3. says

    I just wanted to tell you that I appreciate what you are doing to help beat cancer. I have lost both parents (ages 54 and 56) to cancer…lung and brain cancer. My mom was a heavy smoker but my dad worked at a shipyard for 30 years. Even though they seperated 17 years ago, they died 2 years apart. I also lost my grandma to pancreatic cancer 3 months after losing my dad, and my cousin is currently losing her battle with kidney cancer and has been told she has 6-12 months left at age 54. I hope and pray they find a cure soon. Cancer survivors aren’t just those who beat it…I believe it also includes the friends and family who have had to survive after watching their loved ones go through cancer.

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