When Bethany Nicklas gets ready to run at this year’s Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage, she knows she’ll be going outside of her comfort zone. But that’s no longer a problem for Bethany. After all, it can’t possibly be harder than battling cancer.
She fully admits that Ragnar may not have seemed like a good idea a year ago. Living on the East Coast, very near the course of Ragnar Relay Cape Cod, she was asked to volunteer for her friend Kris Berry’s team “Tonight We Are Young/Sore”. Volunteering with her daughter Emily in 2012, she thought, “No sleep? Sweaty Vans?” But now, she has a new perspective. “I have learned it is good to take chances in life. Life is too short to second guess yourself or be afraid.”
Cancer is all about timing: Finding it fast enough, treating it aggressively. But, for anyone who has ever encountered it, the reality is: it’s always bad timing. Bethany was in the process of relocating across the country when a routine medical visit found what would be a life altering diagnosis. “One week after arriving in Seattle, even before my moving truck had arrived from Boston, I was diagnosed with stage 1B breast cancer. My mother had died of breast cancer 13 years earlier so telling my two girls, father and siblings was very difficult,” recalls Bethany. Life doesn’t seem to stop for anything, not even cancer, and Bethany knew she would need to be devoted to her daily life and taking care of her family. She was also committed to training for another big challenge, the Marine Corps marathon.
“They all wanted me to pull out of the marathon, it may be too much on my body, “ said Bethany. “ I didn’t.”
For Bethany, running was pivotal in helping her get through treatment. She had already trained for and completed her first marathon previously, and she went into the whole ordeal fighting. She knew her body was strong. Running had given her the confidence she needed to know that she could overcome this. “I continued training, and due to two surgeries, I missed a few runs. But, on October 28th, I was at the starting line and finished with a 6 minute PR. Three days later I started 3 months chemotherapy, then 6 weeks of radiation. Through it all I ran, slower and less, but I ran. I was not going to let cancer beat me.”
Now, Bethany is ready for the next challenge: Ragnar. After following a group of women on Twitter, and reading their blogs, she reached out and joined the team. Last year at Cape Cod Bethany said, “I will never spend 24 hours in a sweaty van.” And now? “I won’t say never anymore. I am excited for July 19th. I’m on Ultra Team ‘Six Pack With a Rack’ with 5 great women.” Bethany’s goal at this year’s race is to have fun and support her teammates. She does enjoy being competitive with herself, but this year’s race is all about fun. Her daughter Emily will be along the course volunteering for her team, and she knows her teammates will always be close by. She’s even in the process of training for her next challenge after Ragnar: The New York Marathon! Never slowing down, Bethany is already focused on the next target, “Being from the East Coast, getting into that race is a big deal! My goal is to have a good time. If I do well, great, but the goal is just to enjoy it!”
She knows first-hand that taking care of her health and setting goals is important even when facing a challenge as big as cancer. “Ragnar is out of my comfort zone. But nothing else I do in life could be as hard as beating cancer. We all need to do things that are uncomfortable once in a while. New friends, sweaty van, lack of sleep, running 28 miles in 30ish hours? It is an adventure! Bring it on.”
Check out Bethany’s teammate’s blog, http://marathonlar.blogspot.com