Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mountain Masochist 50--a run for Mike

with Mike at mile 75, MMT100, 2005

** Please see the comments section for an update on this post**

Saturday will be my fourth Mountain Masochist 50 Mile Trail Race (MMTR), and without a doubt, it will be the most emotional. I am dedicating my race to my good friend and fellow Wahoo, Mike Broderick, who is fighting stage 4 lung cancer. Mike is a fellow VHTRC member and a popular marathon coach with the Montgomery County Experienced Marathon Training Program. Hundreds of his friends have contributed over $34,000 in Mikes' name to Team LeBrecque, a New York Marathon team raising funds and awareness for lung cancer.

The fact that Mike is so critically ill at all is unfathomable to me. Just four months ago, he finished Western States 100 in 26:53 in very hot conditions, looking and feeling great. Three months later, he was diagnosed with cancer. I am still in shock. I walk around all day going about my work, my training, and spending time with my family, but there is a cloud over my head that I can't shake. This is a guy who swears by a healthy lifestyle, helps others train for marathons and reach their goals so selflessly, and now he is fighting for his life. It just sucks.

Mike was the reason I finished my first 100, the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 (MMT) in 2005. He was my coach, helped crew, and he paced me for the last 30 miles. As I wrote in my last post, he witnessed the great Sleepy/Sophie meltdown and got me running (er, death marching) to the finish line. I will never forget his patience, good humor, and "can do" attitude.

The Meltdown, Mile 85

Mike and I met while on a training run on the Wild Oak Trail. He was training for Wasatch, and I was a newbie in the VHTRC. By the end of the 26 mile loop, we had discovered we were fellow University of Virginia alums and lovers of great acoustic music. (Mike is a Dead Head, and I am not, but we still like a lot of the same music, and he will always let me know when he and his wife Jill are coming to Charlottesville for a Hurricane Party with members of Johnny Sportcoat). He offered to help me prepare and pace me for MMT not too long after, and that was that. As it so often happens in ultrarunning, it took one long run and we were friends for life.

I wish Mike could be out there with me on those MMTR trails on Saturday. He has finished this race at least three times, and he hates The Loop as much as I do. When I am out there swearing at the rocks--and at this awful thing called cancer-- I will swear a little louder and harder for Mike. And I will say a prayer, too.

Team Wahoo (Jeff Wilbur, me, Quatro Hubbard, Laura DeWald and Mike at Bull Run Run 50, 2005)


Stephanie Wilson said...

Nice post Sophie. Thanks so much for sharing. I didn't now Mike like so many of you, but I'm thinking of him anyway. One of my high school classmates just passed from cancer the other week. So much to ponder. I love your line about one long run and friends for life. That's a great line.

Rick Gray said...

There is nothing about cancer that is any good. It just plain sucks, but this awful disease can be beat. With friends like you Mike will have the strength to keep striving forward. He knows that he is always in your thoughts and prayers. I am sure his desire is for you to run your very best tomorrow and that is what you will do. You have trained and are ready to tackle the loop with Mike in your thoughts. As you cross the finish line, I am sure you will be thinking of Mike and praying for his healing.

jenn said...

Good Luck this weekend, Soph!! can't wait to see you at MMTR! I really appreciate your post and you sharing. hugs to you... life really has a way of placing things in perspective of what matters most. I agree with Steph. it's amazing the strong bonds and friendships that are formed through running.
I think running MMTR for mike is AWESOME!!! load up some grateful dead on your ipod ( just not " going down the road feeling bad" :oP ) or some of the music you both love and seriously fight like hell in the loop FOR HIM, girlie!! i'll be there cheering you on!
take care and see you this evening!


Johann said...

That is so sad. Have a great run for Mike. I will think of you and him while running this weekend. My brother in law died of cancer in 2009 so I will swear with you.

Alan said...

That cloud hangs over all of us I think. No answers to be found. Thanks for sharing.

Godspeed tomorrow.


And Miles 2 Go said...

Good thoughts, Soph. Wishing for Mike to be back out there with us some day soon.

Sophie Speidel said...

Thanks for all your comments, dear friends.

I received this email this morning from Sue Broderick, Nov 5, 2010:

"Dear friends of Mike,

We would like to thank you all for the support and caring that you have
shown Mike over the past few weeks. Every phone call, email and visit meantso much to him. It is with a heavy heart that we are letting you all know Mike did pass away peacefully at 2:15 am November 5th with Jill
and I by his side.
We are all so fortunate to have been a part of Mike's life. We hope you all
will find comfort in knowing that each one of you meant so much to him."

Mike will be in my thoughts every step of the way tomorrow. Thanks for all your support and love. Can't wait to give you all big hugs when we meet again.

Rooster said...

Have a great run Sophie. So hard to understand such a horrible desease as cancer. Thinking of you and I too love the line, one long run and friends for life.

c said...

I was sorry to hear about the passing away at the pre-race briefing. I saw you a couple of times while running the MMTR. I didn't know Mike but I am sure he would have appreciated your dedication at the race and great performance.

Sophie Speidel said...

Thank you, C. I crewed Mike at Masochist in 2004, so it was very cathartic for me to re-visit all the places where I helped him. Climbing up Buck Mountain to the Rocky music was very emotional. Hope you had a great day out there---it was beautiful!

ultrarunnergirl said...

Thank you for sharing your good memories. It's comforting and I think it helps us to heal from the loss we are all feeling.