Ready for a run of a lifetime, Michael-Ann McAboy was abruptly tossed into a race to beat a terrible disease.
A sudden diagnosis of breast cancer early last year sent the Kent woman scrambling to find answers and aggressive treatment.
A year later – almost to the date of her last radiation treatment – McAboy is fit and back on her persistent feet. She joins more than 50,000 runners from throughout the world to run the prestigious TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday (6 to 9:30 a.m., ESPN2).
“I’m healthy, I feel great. I wasn’t going to pass up this opportunity,” said McAboy, an investment manager for a family office in downtown Seattle who frequently visits New York City on business. “Knowing that I’m doing a marathon this year kept me running and doing all that I could in 2016. It was a huge inspiration to stay healthy and active.”
Crossing the finish line in Central Park has always been the goal for McAboy. Confident she would survive her diagnosis and fight through her treatments, McAboy deferred her race entry and committed to run New York this fall.
McAboy underwent a grueling 2016 to regain her stride, overcoming three surgeries, energy-sapping rounds of chemotherapy and intensive radiation treatments.
Gradually, she began to walk, jog, then run again.
New York represents McAboy’s return – and only her second attempt – at the 26.2-mile distance. The former Decatur High School runner who grew up in Federal Way, finished the 2014 Skagit Flats Marathon in Burlington with a time of 4 hours, 35:44.1 minutes.
No speedster, the tall and lean woman, a Central Washington University graduate, hopes to finish her Sunday tour of the Big Apple’s five boroughs in five hours at a pedestrian but comfortable 11½-minute-mile pace. Waiting for her at the finish line will be her husband of 28 years, Mike, and one of her two sons, 22-year-old Jared, a professional dancer who lives there and went to New York University. The Kentridge grad previously trained and starred at the Allegro Performing Arts Academy.
McAboy didn’t run competitively and consistently until her later years. For a brief time, she joined her other son, Austin, 26, a Boeing engineer, for obstacle-course races. But those spartan-type events required strength, and McAboy wanted to compete in comfort by returning to what she likes to do best – run fluid, run long.
“It’s the best body-transforming exercise you can do. It’s just my thing,” she said. “When you finish, you feel so good. It’s very rewarding because it’s tough.”
Tough describes a woman who will run Sunday’s marathon with a stress fracture in her lower left leg. Doctors cautiously gave her the green light to run and compete.
“I’m going to do it. What the heck, right? I’m not going to hurt myself more,” McAboy said of her injury. “I’m happy to push through and get this done and call it a huge success.”
Besides, McAboy has been through much worse. She beat cancer. Her prognosis is good.
“Knowing that I had to run kept me positive,” she said of her plight. “It kept me going – through the sickness, the surgeries, losing of my hair, the emotional (toll). … Running kept me focused on a goal to do the New York Marathon. It kept me grounded, motivated and inspired.”
She will proudly wear nearly all pink – skirt, shirt, hat – to promote breast cancer awareness and the importance for others to get screened.
“If I had not had the mammogram,” she admitted, “I may not be here today.”