This is one of a series of profiles on runners training for one of the Illinois Marathon races.
Name: Sue Grey
Occupation: Vice-president for community impact at the United Way of Champaign County and Champaign school board member
When Sue Grey runs the half-marathon here in town on May 1, her brother will be cheering her on.
And after she completes the 13 miles and receives her finisher’s medal, she’ll put it around his neck.
Grey is running the race for him. Her older brother, Mike Brady of California — whom Grey says is one of her best friends — found out right before Thanksgiving last fall that he had non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a huge battle he’s got to go through, emotionally and physically. It’s really going to be a test,’” Grey said. “I thought about it and prayed about it, and I thought, ‘What am I doing to test myself?’”
She decided the Christie Clinic half-marathon was something she could do for her brother.
“I want to show him I’ll fight too,” she said. “I can’t cure cancer, but I can run 13 miles.”
Brady has been undergoing treatment and it is working to get rid of the cancer, Grey said.
“He is going to beat cancer before I do this run,” she said.
Grey is a longtime walker who loves the escape the exercise provides and how it makes her feel. But she didn’t have a lot of interest in running.
She began training in mid-December. Working up to a four-mile run seemed like a huge obstacle. But now she’s done a six-mile run.
Still, she said, “I feel like such a novice.”
She’s trying out energy gels to see what she likes. She got new running shoes recently — long overdue. She had to take a week off due to a sore Achilles tendon and calf muscle, so she’s stretching more now.
And she’s liking running better than she expected to.
“There’s such a neat community of people,” Grey said. “You get so much encouragement when you tell people what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”
The half-marathon runs past Grey’s best friend’s house in Urbana. Grey is positioning friends and familiy members along the course to cheer her on.
She’s looking forward to the race, and being able to say “I’m doing it.”
“What I really like is feeling strong and that whole feeling of, I did that. My body did that. It’s a great sense of accomplishment,” Grey said.
“I never, ever thought I could run six miles. Ever. And I’m going to run 13.”