Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Memories of Kelly and Calgary

Seven years ago today I ran my first marathon outside the United States in Calgary.

It was the most special marathon of the fifteen I have done. While Kelly was always in my heart at all of my marathons, this time she was in Calgary with her family. I would be able to see her while I was running for her.

The day before the marathon we drove up to the campground that Kelly and her family were staying at. I was amazed to see the transformation in Kelly's appearance from when I saw her in March at Disneyland. It would not be the last time that Kelly would amaze me in the years to come.

Patty told me it was a very emotional moment to see Kelly and me together again. When we said goodbye at Disneyland in March, the odds of us seeing each other again were not good.

We drove up to Lake Louise and Banff and spent a fun afternoon together. However, I would not recommend going shopping with Kelly as the best pre-race strategy. How she loved to shop. I finally had to sit down and rest. She had worn me out.

The next morning Sue and Adam dropped me off at the start line and after the race started had a Calgary stampede breakfast, pancakes and "disgusting beans" as Adam likes to say. That does seem to be an unusual topping for pancakes.

Sue and Adam would later dub this marathon as the "marathon of blocks". While I was running 26.2 miles they were convinced they had walked 26.2 blocks :-)

I don't remember very much about the course. Around the 3 mile mark we ran through the Calgary Zoo which I would end up seeing again later that day.

Much of the course ran parallel to the Bow River which was a nice backdrop. One of the unique things about this marathon was the kilometer markings instead of miles. Since they come every .62 miles they seem to go by so much faster especially later in the race.

I ended up running much of the day with a nice young woman from Saskatchewan. She had noticed me looking at a picture I carried of Kelly while I was running and she struck up a conversation with me. We probably ran 4 or 5 miles early in the marathon and then got separated at a water station. We ran into each other again right around the halfway point and ran together for the rest of the day.

This was an out and back course so when I passed the 1/2 point, I knew each step the rest of the way was bringing me closer to Kelly.

I saw Kelly and her family very near to the finish line. What an emotional moment that was for me to see Kelly, Don, Patty, Molly and Rose as well as Sue and Adam. I floated the rest of the way to the finish line.

Pam and I gave each other a big hug after we crossed the finish line. This was her first marathon so it was a very special moment for her.

Then my dream came true. I saw Kelly and I went over to hug her. I had so many things I wanted to tell her. I wanted to tell her that she was my hero and how much I loved her, how deeply she had touched me life, but I couldn't find any words. I knew if I tried to talk, I would break down so I just hugged her and it was the best hug of my life. I felt such peace while she was in my arms. I am not sure how long we hugged. It was probably 5 minutes or more. We never said a word, but with friends you don't have to say anything. You just know how you feel about each other and trust that.

I gave Kelly my marathon medal as it was really her victory that day.

Later that day, we went back over to the Calgary Zoo and spent the afternoon walking around the zoo. There is no one else in the world I would have done that for after running 26.2 miles, but Kelly didn't limit herself because of her cancer. A marathon doesn't stack up against what Kelly dealt with.

Patty asked Adam to sit in Kelly's wheelchair and Kelly pushed Adam while we were at the zoo. Adam got a small taste of the funny looks and questions that Kelly would have to endure because she looked different. That was a very profound lesson. Something I had never thought about. One of many lessons I learned from Kelly and her family.

I consider myself so blessed that I got to be a part of Kelly's cancer journey. It was such an honor for me to run for her.

Kelly, thanks for being my friend, touching my life.

You will always be my hero. I love you so much.

1 comment:

  1. Ross,
    You're blogs always strike a chord with me. You are so special to our family, no, you are family. You have faithfully been at our sides through this whole battle. Thank you so much! Love you, Molly