Today I ran for the first time since the half marathon. I’ve been a bit nervous about going and have definitely put it off for the last month. I got up the nerve, so we went. I only went for about [Read more…]
It has been nearly two weeks since I finished the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon and I can’t quite seem to convince myself that it really happened.
Sunday, September 20, 2015 was perfect weather for a race. The race started and ended at the base of the Washington Monument and downtown Washington D.C. was buzzing with the excitement of over 8,000 runners. My team and I shared nervous hugs, snapped a few photos, and squeezed into the 12+ minute pace section of the half marathon chute.
Someone sang the National Anthem and I cried. [Read more…]
I’m finally managing catching up on life; do not take this as a promise to write updates regularly. Here’s what we’ve been up to:
I ran the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon last weekend. That deserves its own post (or several), but I am glad I never gave up during training or the race. The race itself was more emotionally challenging than expected and I can easily say I never want to go 13.1 miles again unless I’m in a vehicle! [Read more…]
I enjoy hearing or reading people’s stories. When we give a story the time and space to be told, we are affirming the significance of the story teller’s experience. Sharing our stories is an incredible way to encourage each other through the more challenging seasons of life.
Blogging has been a therapeutic way for me to share my story. It’s a convenient way for me [Read more…]
It’s hard to believe that the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon is in just a few days. It’s been a whirlwind few months without adding training for a half marathon. I’m still a bit in shock that I even agreed to do this.
I am so incredibly grateful for all the support and encouragement I have received through the blog, on social media, and as a result of the article in The Day. Now, I’ve got one more way for you to cheer me and my team across the finish line:
On Sunday, September 20, would you post and share photos of you wearing your #RunLikeKeith hat or holding a #RunLikeKeith sign?
My friends and I are going to need all the cheerleaders we can get and since not everyone can actually come cheer at the race, we’d love to see your digital cheers!
All you have to do is post your photo on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook and use the hashtag: #RunLikeKeith. If you don’t use social media, send me an email with your photo and I’ll be sure to share it with the team.
This has been an incredible journey of learning about running, grief, and myself and I look forward to sharing it with you. I’ll post here some time next week, but I’ll be sharing thoughts and photos along the way on Instagram, Twitter, and the Facebook page.
I’ve got a few #RunLikeKeith hats left if you’d like one, but forgot to order. Send me an email or leave a comment below!
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to #RunLikeKeith. Part of it is to feel the freedom in your mind and body as you move through space and push yourself to go faster and farther than last time.
But since I will never be #FastLikeKeith, I’ve been working through what the hashtag means at a deeper level.
It means to be disciplined.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” [1 Corinthians 9:24-26 NIV]
Keith never ran without purpose. Whenever I have attempted running for the vague sake of “getting healthy”, I’ve always been discouraged and ended up quitting. Keith ran to be strong and to beat his personal records. He always worked toward the goal to get faster and be stronger.
To #RunLikeKeith means to be focused.
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 3:13-14 NIV]
Keith was the most focused person I’ve ever met. When he set his mind to accomplish something, he did it. He was well acquainted with the libraries of his college and medical school because he was determined to learn as much as possible. I am learning to use that same focus in my own training as I look past bad runs towards the ultimate goal of finishing this half marathon.
To #RunLikeKeith means to keep perspective.
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” [Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV]
Anyone who spent any amount of time discussing anything with Keith would know that his relationship with God was so personal that it affected every aspect of his life. Each decision, frustration, celebration, and moment was met with Keith’s trust that God had a plan for his life. It’s hard to understand how God could be involved in my running, but somehow I’m barely six months post c-section and my body feels as strong as it did two years post surgery with Caleb. I can’t explain my present success or enjoyment with regards to running other than that it’s part of something bigger.
Most importantly, to #RunLikeKeith means to finish honorably.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” [2 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV]
Keith may have loved to try and cheat his way through a board game, but he lived his life with integrity. In the last hours and moments of Keith’s life I was keenly aware of how true this was. All I could say to him was how well he had lived and that he could confidently enter heaven’s gate knowing that he had lived and died honorably. I hope one day someone may admire me for the way I have lived. In the short term, I want to finish the half marathon with the pride that I worked hard to accomplish something I never dreamed of doing.
It’s for this reason that I’m determined to #RunLikeKeith because it means I’m treating life like a spiritual race. I want to live with the same discipline, focus, perspective, honor, and integrity that he modeled, not because he was perfect, but because I deeply admire those things about him.
If you haven’t ordered your #RunLikeKeith hat yet, but would like one, send an email to OurFriendKeith@gmail.com before we submit the order!
For more info on the #RunLikeKeith hats and fundraiser, follow this link. Registration fees for the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon and 5 Miler increase soon, so if you’re planning on runnin, be sure to sign up!
I haven’t written much about my half marathon training recently, so it’s about time I do! Plus, I have some exciting news…
First, the training update. I had to take almost two weeks off due to travel and an epic stomach bug. It’s been really hard to get back in the swing of things both physically and mentally, but I’m starting to feel confident again. This is my last week of focusing purely on strengthening my cardiovascular system and next week the true half marathon training begins with two short runs and one long run. I’m not quite as terrified as I thought I would be.
I realized the other day that I had seriously misjudged runners. My prime example was Keith: a runners build with a God-given passion for running. Running was rarely hard for Keith. I assumed all runners were of this type: a standard I could never live up to. Keith always wanted to go running together, but I knew I’d never be as fast or good enough to enjoy running like he did. But, as I’m learning, most runners don’t always like running. Most runners don’t ace every single run. Most runners don’t easily increase pace or distance. Most runners, I’m learning, are just like me: working hard to take care of our bodies, using the miles to push forward to better physical, mental, and emotional health.
I always thought runners just decided to be better runners and improvement came easily and automatically. That is utterly ridiculous (especially when I admit it), but realizing my misconception has made the hard days a bit easier since I thought that “real” runners didn’t have hard days.
The truth is, we all have hard days.
I’m trying to train Caleb to say, “You can do it, mama!” One day he refused to say it (which was kind of hilarious), but the other day, he said it spontaneously. It was so encouraging. Then we went home and had our recovery chocolate milk and he got his pack of fruit snacks (he gets some after every run, so that whenever he begs for them, it reminds me to run). One day when I had a really rough run, he told me that I missed Keith and made me hold his hand for the cool down walk home (see photo above).
Now for the exciting stuff…
I needed an external motivator to train well for this race and my friends that are running with me agreed that we all needed a greater purpose than ourselves (and something to keep us from complaining about our achy feet and legs!).
I spoke with our friends at the clinic in Bolivia where Keith worked for a month in the last year of residency and they are in need of money to build a sound proof room to perform hearing tests. They are the only medical facility in the city of Potosi that has the technology to perform these tests, so it is extremely important they have a space that doesn’t have intrusive noise from the busy city streets.
This need came full circle when I realized I had a photo of Keith administering a hearing test to a child in one of the Compassion International centers in the city.
So…as a fun way to support me and my running buddies and meet a direct need of our friends and the people of Potosi, Bolivia, we are having hats made with our team name: #RunLikeKeith.
They even coordinate with the cool race t-shirts (pictured above) and are moisture wicking.
If you are interested, we are asking $20 for a hat, which will cover the cost of the hats, the sound proof room in Bolivia, and shipping to our cheerleaders that aren’t local to either Maryland or Connecticut. For more details, email my friend Becky Gorman at email@example.com.
If we raise more money than the clinic needs, we will find another specific need that the money can help with.
Thanks again for supporting me in the totally crazy, insane journey.
Today is four months since Keith passed away. It feels like it could be years. And yet, I still have regular flashbacks that make it feel like he’s still here and still sick. As much as I miss him and find myself in disbelief that I’m having to parent alone, without my teammate, I am so thankful that he isn’t suffering any more. That sounds so cliche, but I can’t describe it any other way.
I realized lately that I haven’t taken much time to write updates on our daily life. There are some really hard days that end with all of us in tears, but mostly we make the most of each day.
Libby is pure joy. It took her 2.5 months to smile regularly, but now she is constantly smiling and babbling. She truly doesn’t realize we can’t understand a word of it. She likes to think she can sit up on her own and only uses me to balance on when standing. She also has very strong opinions about having slightly wet diapers and needing to get out all her words for the day. She adores Caleb and trusts him immensely: when she’s upset and he tries to console her, she instantly relaxes. A favorite activity is watching the animals dance around on her swing and talking to the baby in the mirror. She’s got Keith’s mischievous grin and his huge smile. I love her endless rolls and those chunky cheeks!
Caleb is his same precocious, tender, and hilarious self. He loves playing “chalk and bubbles” outside and recently acquired a new bike that he is obsessed with. Someone also gave him a ride on “digger” that he hasn’t quite figured out how to use the peddles for, but that’s only a matter of time. He got his first real skinned knee last week, but prefers no band-aid since he says it “feels funny” and then laughs hilariously. He still loves reading books and has found that he really likes puzzles and letters. The train obsession is going strong, but not quite as intense, so I’m thankful for a break! He does talk about Keith quite often. He asks if Daddy will be at places where we are going. He asks if Daddy would like this new movie we are watching. He knows how much Daddy loves him and fondly remembers building trains and tunnels and tickle fights with Daddy. Whenever he hears acoustic guitar, he yells, “Yay! Daddy’s music!” Some people get unnerved when he talks about Keith a lot, but it’s a huge comfort for me: I would rather we talk about him than Caleb’s silence be a sign of his forgetting his dad. It is quite an honor to see this little boy blossom; his old soul is a comfort to me and his silly humor is a relief. Today, I thought I was changing a full diaper and it turned out he had hid a rock he took from the construction site in his diaper; he had clearly forgotten because he was just as surprised as I was when we opened his diaper! Our house is constant entertainment.
I am well, considering. There are still days when life seems like a bad dream: losing your husband young and with two kids is something that happens to other people. Whether I like it or not, it’s happened to me. I don’t always know how to get from morning to evening each day, but I do know that I want my kids to grow up with happy memories from this time, even if it is a huge struggle for me. Having two small kids in the midst of my grief is a challenge, but it’s also a gift. Their smiles and innocence are so refreshing and seeing them grow and develop helps to mark the passage of time. Running has been a gift too: I would have bet money that I would never say that in my life. I’m not sure why training for this half marathon has been so much more positive than any other time that I’ve ran or trained, but it really is. There is something gratifying about achieving a goal as simple as a run in the midst of the toddler/newborn chaos. I’m also choreographing two pieces for a performance in June, so it is nice to have some creative projects.
The hardest thing about the last four months is learning to be independent after spending so many years learning to be part of a team. Keith and I had gotten really good at making decisions together and resolving conflict. We had fun together and felt safe with one another. I never realized how secure he made me feel or how much I depended on his opinion or listening ears. I miss his giggle and the way that he could always make me laugh. It is painful not to have my best friend in my daily life any more.
But then Libby smirks or Caleb freaks out when food touches his clothes and hums while he is focusing on something and I’m reminded of all the wonderful things about Keith that they won’t ever let me forget. It helps to have those little reminders.
Today was supposed to be Day One of #runlikekeith half marathon training. We got up and out the door despite toddler protests to meet friends. We got there and got kids buckled in strollers and as I pushed the stroller to everyone else, the front wheel popped off with a bent axle.
After an extremely challenging emotional week last week and a weekend with boy who has been more than rambunctious, a non-functional brand new stroller felt like a punch to the gut. I just barely managed to not come completely undone. The stroller is not supposed to be the difficult part of this journey.
I’m reminded of a song I first identified with when Keith was in the process of being diagnosed. I didn’t think it was possible, but it’s even more descriptive of my life now.
Let me see redemption win / Let me know the struggle ends / That you can mend a heart / That’s frail and torn / I wanna know a song can rise / From the ashes of a broken life / And all that’s dead inside can be reborn / Cause I’m worn [Tenth Avenue North]
I just love the thought of seeing a new song rising out of the ashes of my broken life because right now the weight it is all to real and heavy. I am confident that day will come one day as long as I keep putting one foot in front of the other, but some days it feels like I’m just tripping over myself.
The day got better after we all had naps and I got a decent cardio workout in with Caleb (2 year old push-ups and jumping jacks are hilarious). The store where I got the stroller will ship us a new one as long as I bring the broken one back tomorrow. It’s still aggravating, but at least it’s being taken care of.
Now the day is winding down and I’ve got a little girl who is fighting sleep. I’ve been missing Keith’s hugs, so I wrapped myself in the black fleece he wore to bare threads but still smells like him and Libby snuggled right in and fell asleep. She brought him comfort before she was born and now he’s doing the same for her.
It’s these quiet moments when I’m reminded that life won’t always be this hard. Some moments seem impossible now, but they will, some day, be just a memory.
So, in my worn, run downs days I soak in these quiet, snuggle moments and am so thankful for a break from the crazy, hard reality that is life right now.
Any of you who have known Keith for any amount of time know that Keith was an avid runner. He started running in high school and found that it was the best way for him to burn off steam and work through life. He had hoped to run a marathon in his lifetime, but never got the chance.
Any of you who have known me know that I do not share Keith’s opinion of running. We met somewhere in the middle by running the Color Run 5k a few years ago and I vowed to never do more than a 5k ever.
And yet, I find myself turning to running as the next step in my grief journey.
In September, I’ll be running the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon. 13.1 whole miles. On my feet.
I’m feeling all sorts of crazy, scared, nervous, anxious, and doubtful. But I know at the end of this journey I will have learned a lot about myself, worked through some of my grief, gotten a lot stronger and healthier, and chosen to trust God for the strength to do something I’m afraid of. There’s a voice inside my head that says I can’t do this. I’m determined to prove that voice wrong.
It’s taken some time to make this decision and it hasn’t been an easy one.
Once I decided to commit, a group of women agreed to pray for me through my journey and some even decided to run as well. I’m thankful for their accountability and companionship because there are mentally, emotionally, and physically challenging days ahead. I’m thankful for a friend who knows me well who is helping me to train safely and consistently and to prepare well and take care of my body.
I’m looking forward to the hours pushing a double jogging stroller because it means Caleb and Libby will see their mom being healthy and doing hard things.
I’m dreading the hours of running that will remind me of Keith’s absence.
Running the half marathon for the Air Force will be a humbling and emotional experience because of all the service has done for my family.
Ultimately, I’m hoping I can run to find freedom in my thoughts and a different way to stay strong and healthy. Since I’ll never be fast like Keith, I hope that in these ways I can learn to run like Keith.
Many of the women running along side me will be fighting their own fears, so we decided to chronicle our journeys with #RunLikeKeith on social media.
I would truly appreciate your prayers and encouragement and if anyone is crazy enough to want to run with us, please let me know!