The New York City Marathon is a poignant reminder for Nicole Weeks of her father. She remembers him as an athlete who went on daily runs even during family vacations, conquered the New York City marathon seven times and, as a cancer patient, ran until he couldn’t anymore.
“When he was diagnosed with lung cancer he couldn’t run anymore so he walked aggressively,” said Weeks, 39, a high school special education teacher from Providence, Rhode Island. “He did it until the very end. Until he went on oxygen that man did something.”
After a seven-year battle with cancer, Weeks’ father passed away in 2013. However, his perseverance and passion for running lives on through Weeks who has always made running and exercise a significant part of her life.
After growing up in Peekskill, New York Weeks moved to Brooklyn to study at the Pratt Institute where she began to take running more seriously and joined cross country. This carried on after graduation when, in 2004, she moved to California and after training for nearly five months, completed her first marathon. She ran the Honolulu Marathon to raise money for an AIDS foundation.
“The training was long and the marathon was painful,” she said.
Although she made it through the race without injury, just a few days after during a run Weeks was injured due to tendinitis in her knee and had to give up running for cycling. “I vowed to never run [a marathon] again,” she said.
Although that was 14 years ago, this Saturday Weeks was now just a day from breaking her vow by running the New York City marathon in honor of her father. Originally, when he was first diagnosed Weeks’ father proposed the idea of running it together and they agreed but were never able to accomplish that goal.
“Unfortunately we never got the chance to do it cause he just got too sick,” said Weeks. “So this was on my bucket list as something I would do in my lifetime in his honor.”
For the past six months Weeks has committed to three weekly runs despite her busy schedule as a teacher and parenting two boys aged, eight and five. Her schedule consists of two weekly shorter runs of three miles and one long distance run that increases every few weeks as she builds up the distance consistently without stressing her body out.
“You have to be religious about it,” she said of her training. “It is really time consuming and you have to really treat your body like a machine and you have to understand it.”
As for her own children, Weeks hopes to have a similar influence that her father had on her and her siblings of being conscious of one’s health and the role exercise plays in that.
“As long as they’re active and understand the importance of being healthy I don’t care what they do or how they do it they need to have that be a part of their lives,” said Weeks.