>> Saturday, March 23, 2013
In one of yesterday's "Friday Funnies," I noted 10 things to make you smile. One of those was about a father running and WINNING a marathon 2 weeks ago while pushing his 6-year-old daughter. I had to look more into that story.
Iram Leon and his daughter at the start.
Winning in 3:07:35.
A man racing against time crossed the finish line. His daughter, snugly sitting in a stroller he had been pushing for just over 26 miles, gained a memory that may live longer than her father.
"This is supposed to eat away at my memory in the end," Iram Leon said of the cancer in his left temporal lobe. "But I hope this memory is one of the last things to go and one she never loses."
Leon is 32 years old. He said his doctors have told him, "we're probably not going to beat this. We're just hoping to get you to 40."
As Leon and his 6-year-old daughter Kiana finished first in the 2013 Gusher Marathon, he was sure to clarify to everybody that his daughter came in first and he came in second.
Leon said she is the center of his universe, his only child. Although the marathon does not usually allow strollers, the race organizers made an exception so he could push her throughout the race.
On a day with a detrimental headwind, the stroller felt "like a sail" at times, Leon recalled. But what was aerodynamically a disadvantage served as an invaluable source of inspiration.
"It can't be a disadvantage when it's what gets you going," said Leon, who lives in Austin. "Every doctor's appointment (I ask), 'Can I keep running and am I still fit to raise a kid?'"
Leon experienced his first seizure in November 2010.
He cannot drive a car, so he walks Kiana to school every morning.
He has had surgery and takes medication every day and more on marathon days, which carries a side effect of nausea. He said he threw up while running in the Austin Marathon, but was lucky and only did so after the race on Saturday.
The part of his brain where the tumor is lodged affects memory, language skills and spatial orientation. A left turn does not register to him as it would anybody else. Normally his running group directs Leon, but Saturday that duty fell to the bike that travels in front of the race leader.
Running is Leon's therapy - he said it beats sitting down with a therapist.
"People shouldn't wait to live until they're told they're dying," Leon said. "Go home and hug somebody and don't wait to be told you have a disease that's going to kill you. I ran my entire life and I was dumb enough to wait until I was told I was dying before I ran with my daughter."
Kiana gave out a "woo" at the hairpin turns. She would tell her father to run faster and look up at him through the window on the stroller's hood.
"I kind of just like sitting here," she said after the race. When at home, Leon said he braids Kiana's hair and the two will paint their toenails together. Leon added that although he and Kiana's mother are no longer together, he gets to see his daughter every day except for every other weekend.
He and Kiana listened to Disney songs on his iPhone before he plugged in his headphones toward the end of the race.
For the last couple of miles he listened to "Carry On" by Fun. on repeat because of one particular verse:
"My head is on fire
But my legs are fine."
It was what was playing when he and Kiana crossed the finish line.
Don't forget this part: "People shouldn't wait to live until they're told they're dying," Leon said. "Go home and hug somebody and don't wait to be told you have a disease that's going to kill you. I ran my entire life and I was dumb enough to wait until I was told I was dying before I ran with my daughter."
Done and done:
After a 22 mile bike ride together in August.
At the turn-around of a Thanksgiving Day 10K where we came in 4th - our 2nd race together.
We added 6.2 miles that day to our total of 511 miles we ran together in 2012.