Funny thing, it wasn’t until I began running for others that I fell in love with running. As it turns out, I was running for myself. I was just thirty years old when I completed my first registered race, a hilly 10k in my new town. I thought it would be a good way to meet people and also thumb my nose at time. The morning of the race I asked my five year old daughter if she thought I could do it and her response was something along the lines of “As long as you eat a good breakfast”. I ate my Cheerios and set out to prove my fitness and youth. It nearly killed me and it didn’t do much for my pride either.
Run a race: CHECK… And done. Never to be repeated. Except, I got ticked off that it beat me, so I came back with a new angle. I ran for a cause. I ran for leukemia. I ran for lymphoma. I ran for ovarian cancer. I ran for those who would give anything for the privilege of running.
My first marathon was with an organization called Team In Training (TNT), a fundraising program for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) that trains individuals to complete endurance events in exchange for money raised for blood cancer research. That was a life-changing experience for me in ways I can’t begin to explain.
From that first marathon came LENLO. With the help of so many wonderful people, the idea of a 5 & 10k run/walk in memory of our sweet friend, Kathy Alianiello, came to life. By year three, our branded logo had been spotted all around the world (thank you FaceBook). We raised upwards of $50,000.00 for research and awareness and our race had enjoyed regional success. Designing the marketing collateral was my thang. “Run for HER Life” was the 2012 theme. Who could have guessed that two months later I would be widowed, my kids half orphaned, our friends devastated and that would end LENLO.
On November 07, 2012 my running came to a screeching halt. It was months before I would consistently beat feet again. My usual routes, the music I listened to, depleting myself physically and emotionally, all of it left me in a heap at the end of my driveway barely able to breathe let alone sob. I wonder how many neighbors witnessed those glass-housed moments? Because witness, they did.
It’s taken this long to look back with clarity. My workouts became more intense in frequency, in speed and in effort. That’s the one thing I could control in my world. So many people commented on seeing me run throughout town and on how much weight I’d lost. Wait, what? I’ve lost weight? I didn’t know. Isn’t it usually the person who is losing the weight who is the first to notice? That went on for a year before he died. I was running for my life and the finish line was glass-housed.