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Follow This Couple!

Chris and Crea at the Disneyland Half

Crea and Christopher Wilno, ages 41 and 45 respectively, have been thrown more than their share of speed bumps. They lost their baby, Isabella, just before she was due to be born, and Christopher lost his father to leukemia shortly thereafter. While pregnant again, Crea was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Still, the family, which includes Tiana (19 years old), Jaden (7) and Thalia (3), is thriving and, of course, running.

Best recent run:

Crea touching down at the finish line

Crea: Last Sunday. It was only my second run since taking a long break from running while Chris trained for his last Ironman. It is difficult to fit in my working out when he is training for such an intense race. My run was just a slow 3 miler through our neighborhood but it reminded me of what I have been missing by being away from running: a few moments to myself to listen to some good music and focus on myself.

Chris: Last week, my son wanted to go for a run with me. We went 1.65 miles at a 10-minute pace. I got to hang out with my best buddy doing what I love to do.

Roots of running:
Chris: I ran cross-country in high school, but then the sport faded into the distance after graduation. Seventeen years later, my father was diagnosed with leukemia. I spent 15 months watching this disease beat him down. In high school when I was a fast runner; the marathon was something that really scared me. I felt like the gesture of staring my fear in the face would be a good tribute to my father. I walked into a running store, Go Tri Sports in Hilton Head, and shared my story with the owner, who grabbed a Team in Training flyer and handed it to me. I went back home and told my Dad. He never spoke a word about it. He just shed one tear. That is how my second running life began.

Crea: I’m a reluctant runner. I prefer swimming, which is funny because Chris would rather run 20 miles than spend 30 minutes in the pool. Chris is really why I had any interest in running. He was so determined to fight back against cancer.

After Chris completed his first marathon with Team in Training, I joined as well and walked 26.2 miles at the San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon. The importance of this race was that it came 7 months after our son was born, 7 months after having a thyroidectomy tied to cancer, and 5 months after all the radiation treatment that accompanies a cancer diagnosis.

Chris at the 26.2 mile... stretch?

Not quite across the finish line yet: (Crea) In November 2009, I thought my doctor would tell me I was cancer free, but the cancer had returned. I had my second surgery for thyroid cancer in February 2010 and a year later they found another very small nodule. I recently received the good news that the nodule had not grown so for now, I sit and wait until the next test. The goal is to have good results for 5 years that I can move on with my life and leave cancer behind.

Princesses for a Day: (Crea) I ran the Disneyland Half in 2010 with Chris while I was training for my first marathon, the Santa Barbara International Marathon. This year I walked it with my stepmother, who is a breast cancer survivor. She has always wanted to do the three-day Avon walk but health issues kept her from being able to, so we did the half instead. It was great to share the day and the miles with a fellow cancer survivor and to be able to push her along when it got difficult near the end.

Music to her feet?: (Crea) My iPod is my most important piece of gear. It gives me time to do something I am trying to learn to love—running—while doing something I do love: listening to music. In time, I hope these two merge and I love to do both.

And the winner is…:(Chris) Our complicated story of loss certainly helps to generate donations, but I also like to believe it is tied to the way we have handled the hardships. Instead of focusing on the tough times, we choose to focus on the blessings that came out of them.

I simply believe you have to speak from the heart and good things tend to come your way. Beyond this, I have used raffles as a tool for raising funds. I accumulate prizes and then sell a limited amount of tickets for a chance to earn those prizes.

Kona, here she comes: (Crea) I am signed up to compete in the Lavaman Triathlon on April 1, 2012. Chris has done this race 3 years in a row with Team in Training, so I’m keeping up the tradition. I’m very excited for the post race vacation in Kona with the family.

Gotta know: where is the name Crea from? It is simply a Santa-Barbara made-up hippie name.

Follow this couple at: Good Plus One (Caveat from Chris: “I am not sure if you can really call it a blog but it is where I post things I write when I have the time to write.”) or @run2savelives (Chris) and @createrese (Crea)

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