A Mother Who Inspired Me, Sandi Toth

11 May

I met her after the Nike San Francisco marathon. We were both trying to find our way back to the Team In Training tent to let them know we made it. We had successfully finished our races, yet we had to walk another mile to the tent to check in. Sandi and I bumped into each other and started talking. We instantly became friends.

I looked over at the Nike booth and was upset that I didn’t have my credit card with me. Sandi treated me to a few things from Nike, and I offered to repay her with a check. Afterwards, we walked back toward the buses. It was during that long walk that I learned so much about this amazing woman. It was at that time that it really made me proud to have raise $3000 and run 26.2 miles for lymphoma and leukemia. It made this marathon so much more special to me. I would have run just for her so please let me tell you her story.

Sandi’s journey with Team in Training began with a post card in the mail. She thought she received it because she was recently diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s disease. Her body was very weak following radiation and an emergency appendectomy. She could barely get up the stairs. She felt like she was barely holding onto dear life.
After she called the number on the postcard, she realized that it was a fundraising organization. How on earth would she raise $2900 when she could barely get up the stairs?

She attended the informational meeting at REI and knew at that point there was no looking back. From the inspirational video to the testimonials of others to discussion of fundraising for a cure – it was all just too much for Sandi to take in. Then, a mentor stood up and shared her story. Sandi and others began to cry for this mentor, Beth Knorr, gave her hope. Sandi realized that she belonged with this group of capable, healthy, strong individuals choosing to exercise and fundraise for a cause, her cause – these were individuals she needed in her life.

Shortly after her training began, her cancer returned. Chemotherapy was her next step. Sandi scheduled her weekly infusions on Wednesdays so the side effects would be over by Saturday and she could be ready to work out with the team. She didn’t miss a single practice that first season. Many, many days she cried on the trails because she didn’t think she had the energy to make it for even a 40 minute walk, she cried because of the uncertainty of her future, and she cried out of guilt that she was able to be here walking while others struggled with their disease. But, the team gave Sandi the strength to press on. Her new mantra of hope has become “Let’s Outrun Cancer.”

Little did Sandi know that she was my inspiration throughout my marathon training this winter. How could I complain about the snow and ice, when she was running in ten below freezing temperatures in Alaska and dealing with cancer? Every Sunday morning at 5 when I felt like going back to bed, I thought about Sandi and the strength she gave to fight cancer and fight the cold.

When Sandi came to Washington, DC to run the Nike Half marathon, I had the opportunity to meet her for brunch and it was lovely. She is a beautiful woman inside and out and I wanted to dedicate this blog to her. Happy Mother’s Day Sandi! You are amazing!

In Health and Happiness,



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