The cause.

Amidst the San Franciscan hills and the shopping and the hot wings and the taxi cab crashes and Niketown, it was easy to forget why I was actually in San Francisco. Sure, I raised $3,800. I deserved it. And yes, I was running a marathon, which is really quite a way to put a kink in an otherwise relaxing vacation. But it was the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society that benefited the most this weekend. Twenty-three thousand runners raised $18.5 million for the society this year.

That's a lot of money.

Members of Team In Training were honored with a pasta dinner Saturday night to congratulate us on our efforts and provide the motivation needed to make it through 26.2 miles. Unfortunately we needed more than, "good luck!"

Runners World columnist John "the Penguin" Bingham gave an entertaining and touching speech before introducing Joan Benoit Samuelson, who was the first woman to be awarded Olympic gold in the marathon. I saw her. In person.

Whoa.

But the most motivation came from Amy Bartlett, a non-Hodkins lymphoma survivor, who shared her story and left most of us in tears. I mean, come on, it was a room full of thousands of women, what do you expect?

She had quite a tale of survival to tell, and was preparing for the half marathon, herself.

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The ceremony was touching, and reminded me of why I did what I did. People are dying. Young. And they shouldn't have to. No one should have to. And if coming up with a few thousand dollars in support of this society is one thing I can do, then I'm glad I did it.

We, the runners and walkers, were treated like heroes when we entered the ceremony. I've never seen so much cheering from one group of people; it was amazing.

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Our own hard work paid off, and it was appreciated. I just hope it can make a difference.