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In real life, I’m somewhat competitive. I like winning. I often set a goal and do everything I can to beat it.

The very first day I walked into Kindergarten, I knew I would grow up to be a teacher. When I reached that goal, I found myself seeking more training to become a better teacher. I thought that once I arrived at teaching nirvana that my life would be complete. But then I noticed that I wanted to achieve more in my career, so I went to graduate school and ended up as an assistant principal. I really enjoyed that job. But then, I found myself wanting a little more and now I am serving as a principal. Before cancer, I was dabbling in thoughts about pursuing a doctoral degree so I could pursue my secret dream of working at a university teaching teachers how to be good teachers.

At one point in my adult life, I entered a 5K race as a jumpstart to a weight loss plan. Then I decided I could do more and I started training for a marathon. Then I accidentally ended up pregnant with my third child, which made me see that I only had time for 5K races. When we moved to Texas, my husband started entering races too and we began participating in fun runs and adventure races. Basically, if you could dress up in a costume and get free beer at the end, we were in.

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In 2011, we competed participated in the Warrior Dash–3.1 miles with obstacles. Jeremy had been working really hard at work but had little time to train. When the race began, I found myself pulling away from him. Soon, I couldn’t even see him behind me. For the first time in our short running (jogging) career, I CHICKED him. I crossed the finish line ahead of my husband! I was one second over my goal time, but I beat him! We had never really talked about the fact that he ALWAYS beat me, but when I finally beat him, I was all over it. I pretty much felt like the baddest badass and a true warrior.

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Before I knew about the cancer, my physical fitness was the first thing to go. In June and July 2011, I was doing this Jillian Michaels crazy workout in the morning, followed by a gym visit later in the day. I had sweat on my sweat. But by the end of August, I was lucky if I could walk across the parking lot without resting. I think I fell asleep at my desk at one point. after mastectomy surgery, Jeremy had me up walking all the time. I slowly built up my strength, but then chemotherapy came along. I entered a few races while undergoing treatment, which I think helped me feel normal and alive. By the time I endured radiation, my body was finished. I know for a fact that I fell asleep at my desk. When you are sitting for long periods of time and cancer treatment throws you into CHEMOPAUSE, you gain weight. 15ish pounds to be exact. Not only was my physical fitness level ridiculously low, my clothes weren’t fitting. Not cool. More important, however, is the fact that obesity is a major factor in the world of breast cancer. I don’t know what caused cancer to grow in my chest, but I do know that there are things I can do to make sure it doesn’t come back. One of those things is to maintain a healthy weight.

Jeremy supports me no matter what, and he knows that I like to be fit and strong. For the entire month of August, he got up with me at 5:00 A.M. and walked by my side. I decided to break out the Couch to 5K app so I could add in some running jogging slogging (slow jogging) intervals too. My precious puppy, Maggie Mae, came along as well. At first, I just came away from these events sore and annoyed that I was sweating before the sun came up. But within two weeks, I not only felt stronger but my clothes were fitting better. And the hot flashes? Nearly gone. And those 15 pounds? I lost 7 of the bastards.

One morning last week, Jeremy and I were discussing getting back to normal and entering some of our favorite races. I brought up (of course) the Warrior Dash moment, and started talking trash about this year’s event (which we are entering).

“It must suck,” I said, “to be beaten by a girl. You need to try to redeem yourself, right?”

“Baby,” he said, “I’m not worried about you beating me. Because of cancer, I have a leg up on you. This workout I do with you is just a warm-up for my ten mile run later today.”

I answered this comment with a laugh, but inside I was starting to catch on fire. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. I seriously doubt I will beat him this year, but I have no doubt that I will beat him again at some point and then I will revel in the glory that will be mine. I will win like a boss. Like a diva. Like a survivor.

Competitive? Just a little.

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