Thursday, September 25, 2008

Light the Night with hope and love for Kelly and Laiken

I have been to three Light the Night walks over the last couple of weeks, one in Longmont, Denver and Boulder.

I was a team captain for the Denver Light the Night on September 25. There were over 6,000 walkers at the Denver walk which was a new record.

Sue, Laura, Adam joined me along with our niece Kristin and great nephew Keegan, my Mom and sister and two new friends we met at New City Church, Jerry and Carol.

Before the walk there was a remembrance ceremony to honor those that have left us too soon because of this disease.

The chaplain from the Denver Hospice center read a beautiful poem during the ceremony. He was kind enough to let me have his copy of it.

And if I go,
while you're still here...
Know that I live on,
vibrating to a different measure

--behind a thin veil you cannot see through
You will not see me,
so you must have faith.

I wait for the time when we can soar together again,

--both aware of each other.

Until then, live your life to its fullest.

And when you need me,

Just whisper my name in your heart,

...I will be there.

I think that is what Kelly and Laiken would want us all to do, live our lives to their fullest each and every day. Though those that love them miss them so much, they will always be in our hearts.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Six months ago

Six months ago I got up to check my e-mail fearing there would be an e-mail that would take all my courage to open and read.

No new news about Kelly. I had received an e-mail late Sunday night from Kelly's Aunt Linda saying that the doctors thought she had just a few hours left.

I left for work very early that morning. As I was driving to work, my cell began to ring. I knew it was about Kelly. I fumbled to answer the phone in the darkness. Kelly's dad was on the phone. My heart sank as Don told me that Kelly had passed away early Monday morning. It was news I had expected, thought I was prepared for it. Still it didn't seem possible. How could this be? We talked briefly. Don asked if I was planning on coming for her service. We had discussed this and decided as a family that we were all planning on attending. Don asked me for a favor, would I be one of Kelly's pallbearers? Kelly and her family always seemed to find a way to give more to me than I gave. What an honor for me to be able to do that for Kelly, for Don and Patty.
We said our good-byes. I told Don that I was going to cry so I pulled my car over on the highway and did exactly that until I felt calm enough to drive.

The rest of the day is a blur. I stopped at Panera Bread which I like to do in the morning and read the paper. Somehow I managed to lose my prescription reading glasses between there and work. I never found them again.

I got to work, told a couple of my friends that Kelly had passed away. Bev and Brenda were very supportive of me. They knew how much I loved Kelly.

I missed my friend Bernice that morning. She was out of the office that day as it was her wedding anniversary. Bernice and I had talked back in 2001 when Kelly was expected to die about the possibility of a miracle occurring with Kelly's health. Bernice always called Kelly, "our little angel" and in many ways that was what she was to many of us, especially me. I always felt like Kelly was my guardian angel. How did she sense when I needed to hear from her? I would be feeling low and suddenly there would be an e-mail in my inbox from Kelly. My heart would leap each time I would see her name in my inbox and every time she would lift my spirits.
Years ago, Adam and I were driving home from Fort Collins and somebody side swiped our car going 75 miles and hour and never even slowed down. It felt like the car was going to roll and then it righted itself. To this day, I think that Kelly's guardian angel saw what was about to happen and steadied the car. The state patrol officer we called looked at our car and told me we were lucky to be alive.

I went in to my manager's office and told him that Kelly had died and started to break down again. I wrote a short e-mail to my staff and left for the rest of the day.

I stopped on the way home and went running, hoping that somehow that would help give me some peace. Running was always my special time with Kelly. We had run thousands of miles together over the last nine years. I cried during most of the run that day.

Six months ago the sky was overcast, the weather chilly, rain mixed with snow.

Today, the sky is blue and around 80 degrees. I ran again today, no tears while running. I still feel sad. I am glad Kelly is free of her cancer. I just wish that could have happened in her earthly life here with us.

I miss her so much. I think most of all, I will miss her smile, her utter sweetness in the way she lived her life.

I am so lucky that I got to be a part of Kelly's life for nine years. She will always be my hero and my love for her will always be safe in my heart. That is one thing that cancer can't touch.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Six degrees of clicking

A couple of thoughts about six degrees.

Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that, if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is an average of six "steps" away from each person on Earth.

Kevin Bacon founded which is about using the idea , "that we are all connected to accomplish something good".

To expand on that are we an average of six "clicks" away from each person in cyber-space?

How can we click to accompish something good? I do believe we are all connected to accomplish something good.

Because I clicked on a website, I started a cyber space friendship with Dane Rauschenberg, a young man who in 2006 ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks and raised over $40,000 for a charity that benefited people with disabilities. We started corresponding about running, my experience as a charity runner, the special friendship I had with Kelly. Dane was kind enough to send Kelly an autographed picture of him running for her birthday last January. Dane knew that Kelly was very ill and he was one of the first people I reached out to when Kelly passed away in March. I had sent Dane one of the links about Kelly and he wrote a blog about her. If you get a chance look for the post he wrote on March 24, 2008.

Someone else was clicking in cyber-space, reading Dane's blog. The title of Dane's blog that day caught Shayna's eye and after reading the article about Kelly, she did some more clicking and asked Dane for my e-mail address. Shayna sent me a very kind e-mail offering her support the same day Dane posted his article about Kelly.

Shayna and I have stayed in touch and she is one of my best friends in cyber space. Shayna is also a multiple TNT participant. Shayna lost her Mom to cancer and has also endured the loss of her team hero, Laiken Kenwood about five weeks after Kelly's passing.

So Shayna and I have become friends because we both read Dane's blog, in different states. We are linked together by a common interest in endurance running, share the same passion and commitment in being relentless in providing hope and inspiration to those we love and serve.

Shayna has been an unexpected source of comfort and continued support for me as I have struggled through my grief this year. Amazing the good someone can accomplish with a few clicks.

Dane had a very short post on his blog tonight and I just love this quote.

"There are many things we can't do, trying is not one of them".

I think that exemplified the way Kelly and Laiken lived their lives. Not trying was not an option for them. Not trying is not an option for Dane, for Shayna or for me.

Keep clicking, keep moving forward, keep trying. I know Kelly and Laiken would want us all to do that.

Please check out Shayna's blog. She has a very touching article about Laiken and Kelly on her blog.

Relentless for a cure.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

1,278 miles

A post having nothing to do with anything, but numbers.

From June 1-August 31 I ran 622 miles.
I rode 656 miles over the same period of time.

I ran a total of 84 times

Average run 7.41 miles
Shortest run, 3.1 miles(5K)
Longest run , 20.2 miles
Average week-47.8 mile

I ran the most miles I have ever run in back to back to back months

June- 191
July- 206
August- 225

This is a huge amount of miles for me and each one of these months might just be a weeks worth of running for an elite marathoner.

622 miles = 100 10K runs
622 miles = 23.74 marathons

1,278 miles

Where could I have gone if I took a road trip?

1,282 miles to Edmonton Canada
1,277 miles to San Francisco California
1275 miles to Chattanooga Tennessee
1265 miles to Portland Oregon

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Loss upon loss

We were shocked and saddened to learn that my cousin Jim Monahan died in a plane crash yesterday in Ohio.

Jim married his high school sweetheart Holly when they turned 18.

Jim was an avid pilot, flying for over 40 years and never had an accident.
One of Jim's favorite assignments in flying was bringing our troops home from the middle east.
This has been a year filled with so much loss. I think I am ready for 2009.
Please keep Jim's family in your thoughts and prayers. Jim's daughter, Jennifer is about to have a baby girl. I am so saddened to think at this time of great joy that the family has to mourn the loss of a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a grandfather.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Running with Katie's

I have an interesting streak going. The last two races I have struck up a conversation while running with Katie. Different races, different Katie's.

I ran the Georgetown to Idaho Springs 1/2 marathon 3 weeks ago and ran with a young girl named Katie who is a TNT teammate that is training to run the Nike Women's marathon in San Francisco the same day as the Denver marathon. It is always fun to find someone that is running about the same pace as you are. Makes the miles and time so much more fun. Katie recently graduated from Denver University. I am always so touched when I see young people already involved in serving the communities they live in. We probably ran off and on together for about 10 miles and really helped pull each other to the finish line. We both ended up running faster then we would have if we hadn't run together.

Today I ran a 10 mile race called the Park to Park. The race takes a beautiful tour of 4 city parks in Denver, City Park, Cheesman Park, Aloma Placita park and ends in Washington Park. It hits some of my favorite parts of the city to run in. In addition to the tour of the parks, you get to run in quiet, tree lined neighborhoods. Even on a hot day, this wouldn't be bad with all of trees that protect you from the sun.

While running through Cheesman Park, I met another Katie. I was wearing my purple TNT singlet and she asked me how Team in Training was going. Turned out that Katie was a former coach of the New York chapter. She obviously could have run much faster, but opted to spend the rest of the run with me. We chatted about the New York city marathon, triathlons(She has completed an iron man event(2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run). She gave me some tips on nutrition and a supplement that is supposed to help you sleep better. She was appalled when I told her how little I am able to sleep. She said there is no way my muscles can repair themselves with so little rest.

Laura-You will very interested to hear this. Katie is friends with Darra Torres. She says she is absolutely not cheating. Cut the volume of training by 50%, sleeps more, and has a trainer stretch her two hours a day.

I was so glad that Katie struck up a conversation with me. I knew after the first three miles that my time goal for the day was a fantasy. I had nothing in my legs. Guess I was still tired from my long run on Saturday. It was nice to be able to let go of the outcome and just enjoy the beautiful day and the good company.

Thanks Katie's. I enjoyed running and getting a chance to talk with you.