Librarian trains for race to raise money for Leukemia Lymphoma Society

by: VERN UYETAKE - Rebecca Mayer, a librarian at the West Linn Public Library, is training to walk a half marathon to raise money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society.Rebecca Mayer isn’t your stereotypical librarian. She’s young, she’s pretty, she’s outgoing and she definitely doesn’t hide behind a desk dishing out disapproving stares to patrons.

One thing some West Linn library patrons may not know about Mayer is that she is big on new year resolutions. This year, she wanted to do something a little different and challenge herself in a new way. As a result, she is not only inspiring her friends and colleagues, but also herself.

Mayer, 31, is currently training to walk a half marathon as part of Team in Training, an organization that raises funds for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. Her 13.1-mile walk will be at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Portland on May 19.

Mayer said she felt compelled to do this. While listening to Pandora radio, she was repeatedly bombarded with ads for Team in Training and they struck a chord with her.

“It seemed like one of those moments where you think, ‘Is someone trying to tell me something?’ ” Mayer said.

Though Mayer likes to do many things, walking or running have never rated high for her. “I’ve never even done a 5K,” she admitted. “Walking, running has never been an activity I’ve been interested in.”

However, once she sets her mind to do something, Mayer aims to finish it. She chose the May 19 event because it gave her enough time to train without being too far away, which could give her a chance to give up.

But the road hasn’t been easy. Dealing with shin splints early on and most recently a pinched nerve in her foot, Mayer’s body is adjusting to the new challenges.

“It’s just walking, walking, walking. Getting your body, feet moving continuously for long periods of time,” Mayer said.

She also made a rookie mistake in the beginning — wearing an old pair of cross-trainers instead of decent running shoes. “That almost stopped me,” she said.

Now she is walking nearly four miles every day with only a day or two off a week to let her body recover. On the weekends, she does her “long” walk with her team. The group just completed its longest walk, 11 miles, before starting to taper in time for prep for the race.

“It’s been a big lifestyle change. I wasn’t very active before physically. It’s affected how I spend my day,” Mayer said.

The team of about 30 people not only train together; they also connect and share stories.

“At the beginning (of each training) they have somebody share a story. It’s heartbreaking and it’s eye-opening,” Mayer said of how cancer has touched so many lives. “It’s inspiring to hear all these stories.”

Mayer is walking in honor of an aunt she never got the chance to meet. Her Aunt Janice died when she was just 16 from aplastic anemia.

Sometimes Mayer can get down on herself during those long walks, but then she thinks about all the people battling cancer and puts it in perspective.

“If these people can fight, I can push myself as far as I need to go,” she said.

Besides the physical changes, Mayer is also seeing some mental ones.

“I’ve gotten a little more confident. I’m more aware of my body, what it does and what it means to me. It made me more grateful for my body,” she said.

But what has surprised her the most about this experience is the level of support she has gotten from her family, friends and co-workers.

“People are incredibly supportive and sometimes I forget that,” Mayer said. “It’s just really encouraging to see so many people come together for a worthy cause.”

Two of her biggest fans are co-workers at the library, Carson Mischel and Sarah McIntrye.

“I’m really proud of Rebecca, for what she is doing. She’s really been able to stick to her goals. She’s inspired a lot of us here,” Mischel said.

“I think she’s doing a wonderful thing,” McIntyre said. “As a group, people are more aware and thinking about fitness.”

Mayer hopes to raise $2,000 for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society in time for the race. For more information or to donate, visit

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