My 1st marathon I ran the L.A. Marathon to raise money for melanoma research, in memory of my brother Paul and his wife Ruth. I finished in 5:59. That story is here: 3/9/14 26.2 done!
My 2nd marathon I ran the Richmond VA Marathon, and got my fastest time at 5:07. I ran for #megsmiles in support of a grieving family. That story is here: Meg Smiles in VA #megsmiles
My 3rd full was the same race as my first, the L.A. marathon. I ran it wearing my LIFE Runner shirt, to support pregnancy crisis centers and to promote pro-life, and pro-love. I ran with my SoCal Meg's Miles friend, Doris. We ran the whole way together, coming in at 5:25. It was my "redemption run," after struggling through the first time. Here is the story of that full: Last Minute Marathoner
This time I ran to support the grieving. Miranda lost her Mom earlier this year, and I lost my Mom in 2009. We both dedicated our run to our Moms, top left is my bib and bottom is her Journey to Hope bib.
Journey to Hope is a walk event I put on earlier this year in April, to show love and support to people in their journey of grief, and to raise money for Grief Share. I still had some walk/5k bibs from the virtual portion left, as well as some 5k medals, and I didn't want them to go to waste. So I decided to ask people to make a donation to Grief Share, and in exchange I would run a 5k for their loved one and give them the medal, or they could have me run for a friend who lost someone, and I would send them a medal as a gift. Below is a photo of the medals/bibs I had left:
While I was training for my 4th marathon I would write the name of a loved one, and the person's name that lost that loved one, on a bib and then I would run 3 plus miles for them. Sometimes running for multiple people if my run was longer. One day I ran in honor of 4 husbands and 1 son that had passed away during a 16 mile run, for example. After I ran out of dedications from and donations from other people, I started to run for friends that I saw struggling after a loss of a loved one. And then I gave them a medal as a reminder that they are not alone. The medal says, "You are Not Alone!" on them, the theme of my event.
Often we journey through grief alone. It is a process that is as unique as each individual and each relationship. However, I wanted to create a way for people to feel loved and supported in that journey. And that what this is all about. Showing love and support to people who are at their bottom emotionally. I have been there.
I lost my Mom in 2009 to a heart attack, I lost my brother Paul in 2011 to metastatic melanoma and his wife Ruth in 2012 also from melanoma! To say the grief and loss was thick, is an understatement. There were many times the waves of grief pulled me under, and I felt like I would never be able to come back up for air! Then I came across Grief Share, a program that has daily devotionals and a 12 week course you can attend at churches. It took me a while to get to the church meetings. So, the daily devotional you get in your email in-box is a great place to start. So often we just aren't ready to weep openly in front of a group of strangers. But I will attest to the fact, when I started attending the classes, it helped immensely. Even more so than just getting those daily emails... and those emails were a life saver!
I wrote about what I call going from "clouds of sorrow to clouds of hope" before. Its how God has spoken to me in my own journey through grief. And is why my event, Journey to Hope, has a cloud/ sky theme to it. God has really been there for me, comforting me. Drawing me near to Him. And as the scriptures say, "He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT
Here are photos of the Journey to Hope bibs that I wore on race day
I attached a bib in honor of my Mom to the front of my shirt. And put the other bibs on O-rings, and hung them off my water pack. They were at my back, and motivating me, pushing me along those 26.2 miles.
Mile 1 was dedicated to my Mom, plus the whole marathon. From the top of the mountain, to the bottom. This one's for you, Mom. Love you! #NeverForgotten #AlwaysLoved
Mile 2, dedicated to my #megsmiles friend Dee Renn, in honor of her Mom. Her Mom died from a heart attack, like my Mom.
During my miles I prayed for each person and their loss. Asking the Lord to comfort them and bring them peace.
Mile 3, dedicated to my #megsmiles friend Kelly J. Anderson, in honor of her Mom. She has recently done the "Out of Darkness" walk to bring suicide awareness in her memory. There is also the Project Semi Colon that I am referencing with the ";" and #KeepGoing. Depression and suicide has affected my family, and me personally as well. It was a honor to run to honor her Mother's life and help raise some awareness myself along the way.
Mile 4 and 5, dedicated to my #megsmiles friend Mary Barney. She lost her Dad recently, and suddenly, to a heart attack. I had dedicated a 5k to her Mom, whom she calls "Marmee," during training. Her Mom fought a brave battle against cancer, and eventually lost that battle. And then after I ran that 5k, dedicated to her Mom, she told me about her father. Broke my heart. She has gone through so much. But I know God is able to bring her through this grief journey, as He has brought me through mine. #youarenotalone
Mile 6, dedicated to my friend, Betsy Nickless' Mom, Sue. We used to meet with a group called RunningFriends4Life. I prayed for her family as they cope with this loss of a dear loved one.
Mile 7, dedicated to a friend I met through my fitness boot camp, Toni Gavello, for her Mom Lynn. It's never easy losing a parent, no matter what circumstance or what age.
Mile 8, dedicated to another dear #megsmiles friend, Gloria Sisneros, for her Dad. She still posts memories on his birthday, and during Father's Day. I know that even after many years, those special days can be difficult. I also do the same with memories of my Mom and my oldest brother. I think of them literally every day.
Mile 9, dedicated to Michelle Laizure's Dad, and Mile 10 Dale Laizure's brother. A wife and a husband, facing grief. Life can be rough. But they have handled their losses with faith, and with love towards her Mom, as her Mom navigates being a widow.
As I was praying for them my left foot started to feel something rubbing on my big toe. And my legs were already feeling the fatigue of taking the brunt of the constant downhill slope. But I knew my struggles in this full can not compare to the loss of a loved one. So I pressed on.
Mile 11, dedicated to another #megsmiles friend, Kristi Allen. For her step-Dad-Ray. Her posts about her loss of her loving step-dad on Facebook were very moving. I felt her sorrow, and felt compelled to reach out to her and run for Ray. I have never met her in person, but she is still a part of the running community that I love so dearly. And I feel its important to reach out to the hurting, and show encouragement when its in our ability to do so.
Mile 12 was dedicated the the victims and family of those in the Las Vegas shooting. I have friends in my MRTT (Mom's Run This Town) group that have personally been affected by this horrible event. And 50 plus more families are out there that are dealing with their grief. So I prayed during this mile for all of these people. That the hope we have in Christ, and the goodness of God is not overshadowed by the evil that exists in this world. I prayed that each family would draw closer to God, in their time of need for comfort and peace.
Mile 13. I wore this bib on a training run on 6/6/17. Chelsea's husband, Gio, made a donation to Grief Share and asked me to run for his wife, in honor of her Dad, Frank. I gladly did so. And during my marathon I wanted to carry her in prayer once again. I know Chelsea and Gio from church.
At this point in the marathon my buddy and I stopped to help a fellow runner who was having foot/ shoe problems and hip pain. I love how fellow runners are willing to stop and help each other. My legs were also getting very stiff at this point, and the hills were just about to start. Still, no turning back at this point. Just as in life, you
have to keep going. Life doesn't stop and wait for us to grieve. All you can do sometimes is do the next thing. Get out of bed. Take a shower. Eat. Go to work. One step, one foot in front of the other. Just like I had to do to finish this marathon.
Mile 14, dedicated to a friend I met through church, Leslie Paulsen. This is also an original bib I wore in training. Leslie made a donation and requested I wear this bib for her and her siblings, as they still were dealing with the loss of their parents.
Mile 15, dedicated to a stranger. I saw a post by my friend Lashell on #megsmiles. And I had Rebekah and her kids on my prayer list. As I was dedicating miles I decided to run in honor of Rebekah's husband. He got into an accident while running, and later passed away. Our running community was praying for him to pull through. Once he passed, our prayers turned to Rebekah and her kids, that the Lord would comfort them during this time of loss and sorrow.
Mile 16, dedicated to another stranger, Becky. She lost her husband to an illness. He was on our prayer chain at church, posted by my dear friend Melissa Murphy. Melissa is her Sister-in-law. She has also undergone loss, her Father passed away. And many family emergencies have put this family through so much. But Melissa and Bob continue to show firm faith in Christ. I prayed for this family, for their comfort and peace. If anyone can help them through these trials, it is our loving Heavenly Father.
Mile 17, dedicated to a friend from my church. When I met her she had just lost her husband about 6 months earlier. And I met her precious boy Carson, and her daughter Lilian. Carson died a few months later in an accident. I won't post the details, they aren't needed. But I sang at Carson's funeral, and one year later I ran for him and his Dad during a training run on the anniversary of his passing from this life into Heaven. I have no doubt he is there, an angel looking down on his Momma. And he will forever be in her heart.
Mile 18. As I dedicated a mile to Jaime I thought of so many friends that have told me about the loss of a child, or a baby. And it is heart breaking, each and every story. I prayed for the Moms and Dads of these babies, lost in utero, after being born, or at a very young age. I can't imagine the depth of their loss. Except to say, I know grief is as deep as our love for the one we lost. And I know that the love for these children is deep, and they are missed every single day. #NeverForgotten #AlwaysLoved
Mile 19, dedicated to a friend through #megsmiles as well, Courtney. I dedicated a 5k during my training on Gray's birthday in Heaven. Gray was a baby, and her 3rd son. And she loves him and misses him every day. I love her heart, and her strength. She does so much to support programs that help children deal with grief, for her boys. And has done runs in Gray's name to help raise funds. And so many other things. Her love is big, her grief is big, and out of this grief God has done some beautiful things. That's how God works! Romans 8:28
During mile 19 I was REALLY feeling the pain in my legs, and I was struggling and fighting for each mile.
Mile 20 was dedicated to a gentleman at my church, for his adult son Caleb. I sang at Caleb's funeral, which was more a celebration of life and a way for Neil to share Caleb's faith in Christ. It was a beautiful ceremony. Very uplifting, if you can believe it. But Neil still misses his son deeply. As I struggled to reach the end of mile 20, I knew I couldn't give up. Just as Neil can't give up. There is hope! God will get him through!
Mile 21 approached, still struggling. I dedicated this mile to my friend from my Bible Study group, Run for God. We have walked and run together many times. And recently her son was taken by suicide. I attended his funeral, and was struck by the phrase, "Suicide is a permanent solution to temporary feelings." So true. And now here Steph and her family is, dealing with their pain of loss.
I may have been struggling with a race, but it paled in comparison to this loss. It kept me pushing on.
Mile 22 dedicated to the friends and family of those taken by suicide. Many people have suffered due to mental illness. And there is a project called, "22 too many" that many of my running friends have started to run for. People run in honor of vets that have lost their battle to depression, because of PTS and other problems.
The families and friends left behind in these cases are hurting, and this project brings hope. They were in my prayers during this mile.
Mile 23, dedicated to my brother Paul and my sister-in-law Ruth. I have a virtual run that I do every year in July, on my birthday, that raises money for melanoma research in their honor. I have run many miles for Paul and Ruth. But that doesn't mean I miss them any less. Every day I think about them. And most of all, Paul. I see him in my kids. I remember who he was and what he meant to me, as my big brother. I cherish the years I had with him, and I miss him. I wish my kids would have gotten the chance to know him.
Mile 24, my brother and Ruth died from Melanoma cancer. And there are so many people that I know that have suffered a loss because of cancer. So I wanted to make a dedication to them.
As I was coming to the end of the race, the hill ended and the road flattened out. I had been waddling/ running and walking off and on. As I thought about Paul and Ruth, and the people that have suffered loss from Cancer, I felt a burst of energy. (Or maybe it was the 1/4 piece of donut I got at the water station at mile 24... lol)
I thought about my #megsmiles friend, Jorge, as mile 25 approached. He lost his Dad to cancer. And I thought about Papa Coria, and how he was in Heaven with my brother Paul
Mile 25, For Jorge, in honor of his Papa. As I prayed for Jorge, thought of his Papa and thought of my brother Paul I felt energized again. I started running, not waddling anymore! (It may have been a slow run, but I felt good!) Then a song came on my iPod, "Feel It," that even got me dancing! I was waving my hands in the air, and my buddy had a good song playing on her headphones, she was dancing and skipping along too!
There were cars on the side of the road stuck in traffic. I am sure they thought we were crazy!
We stopped briefly again at mile 25, and then we stepped it up again. Mile 26 came, and it was dedicated to a very special family, Pam and Wirt Cross, for their daughter Meg of #megsmiles.
As I reached mile 26 I looked down at my #megsmiles blue silicone bracelet, and I thought about all my running buddies cheering me on throughout the country, virtually.
I ran for those we have loved and lost. All 26 PLUS point 2, for those in their journey of grief.
#JourneytoHope #YouareNotAlone #GriefShare
May you be led from clouds of sorrow, to clouds of hope! I pray this in Jesus name, Amen!
For my Mom, Lois Humphrey.
Revel Canyon City Marathon, Azusa CA.
Nov 4, 2017
My Journey to Hope Race
A special thank you to Miranda. As we crossed the finish line the announcer said both our names and said, "Friends that do things together. Have fun together. And smile together." Ain't that the truth!