It was in the 50s and raining the entire weekend - a big switch from the 85 degree, sunny course I usually run. Running my first 6.2 miles at 7am in the cold, pouring rain, though, was amazing. I wish everyone could somehow experience the magic that is "knowing you're doing it" even when the odds (and nature) are against you.
Our half of the group (Van 1) finished our portion and the second half of the team began their legs. My half grabbed some lunch, found a laundromat to dry out our wet clothing and had just settled in for an hour or so of sleep when I got The Call.
One of our runners -- Shelly, a 37 year old mother of a 7 year old boy -- had collapsed, only 2 miles in to her first leg. Tragically and unbelievably, she passed away on the course from a heart attack. This is the most unthinkable, unimaginable tragedy and none of us have our heads wrapped around it. Out of respect for her family, friends and our team I won't say much more, but we are all still reeling.
Some of our runners decided to go home. They wanted to be with their families. Shelly's cousin, best friend and another friend were on our team, so we spent several hours at the hospital, making flight arrangements, waiting for family to arrive, etc. By the time everyone was "settled" (for lack of a better word), there were only 3 runners left.
After a lot of soul searching about what to do next, we decided to keep going. We knew we could not finish the remaining 140 miles, but we knew we could finish what we started in some way, in honor of Shelly and on behalf of our team.
After about 1 hour sleep (in a van in the woods, still in the cold, pouring rain), two of us split Shelly's next leg -- at 4am -- 8.3 miles up a mountain -- in the cold, pouring rain. Our third runner joined us to run Shelly's last leg -- 4.6 miles, also uphill -- also in the cold, pouring rain. The three of us then ran the last 1 mile of the race together, so that our team was represented at the finish line, like Shelly and all of us had planned and worked so hard for the past 8 months.
I don't have many pictures from the race, but I wanted to share a few....
One of the "race traditions" is to write each team member's name on the van window, along with 3 check boxes. As we finish a leg (we each run 3), we check it off. We started the race that way.... but in the end, we were running only for Shelly.
I'm on the left in this photo, taken around 5am Saturday morning. We had just finished running 8.3 miles, which would have been Shelly's 2nd leg. The lady on the right is someone we recruited to join our team when we were 1 runner short. She flew in all the way from Phoenix and we'd known her less than 2 days. She is one of the most amazing people I've ever met and I'm so honored to have made a life-long friend in her.
The 3 remaining runners (I'm on the left) checking off Shelly's last leg.
With our finish line medals after completing the last 1 mile of the race together. We did not finish the way we had planned... we'd slept 3 hours in the past 36... we were cold and wet and emotionally drained.. but we decided to smile for the picture because we knew Shelly would have been grinning from ear to ear.
If you are so inclined, please say a prayer for Shelly, her family and friends. If you haven't been to a doctor in a while, GO! If you haven't said "I love you" or "you mean the world to me" to the people who matter, what are you waiting for? Life is so precious and you just never know... never.
I haven't sewn a thing since I got home on Monday. I haven't done laundry or swept a floor or unpacked. I have, however, hugged my kids about a million times. I've written letters and made phone calls to the people I love, just because I love them. I've stopped to take notice of the beauty of the world around me, of all the gifts I've been granted and all the ladybugs God has put in my path. In honor of my friend and teammate and for yourself, please consider doing the same.
Note: The photo at the top of this post was taken (by me) after we finished Shelly's last leg. This is the magnificent course we ran. When I look at it, I don't see the rain or the clouds. I see the amazing beauty of the world both around me and within me. I hope you do, too.
~*~ May your day be full of Love and Ladybug Hugs ~*~
Thanks for stopping by!
~ Kat ~