Coming Full Circle

Well well well. The last time I left you, I was debating whether or not to sign up for a half-marathon for this coming weekend. (I know I know… my life is so stressful, right?).

After thinking it through (and talkin’ to mi madre) I decided “you know what? Just go for it! Who cares if Ryan won’t be there cheering ya on… You did this race 3 years ago and LOVED it. What’s holding you back?”

Answer? — Nothing.

And let me tell you why.

-I have no injuries. Zero, zip, zilch. (Knock on wood). That’s definitely a step up from last year at this time. Y’all have heard of plantar faciitis, right? Yeah… Let’s just say last September was a tad bit on the painful side. I was sidelined from running for an entire month (granted, I know one month really is not that long of a time period in the grand scheme of things… but when you have no idea when you’re gonna be healed, well…it just plain ‘ole sucks). Thankfully, I figured out what caused the problem (ill-fitting shoes are NOT my friend) and got my hands on a pair of my beloved Asics. (Wanna know more about that story? Read my post about the importance of running shoes!)

-The race fee (ready for this?) was 40$. FORTY bucks! For a half-marathon just 4 days away. That’s the price of a 5k around these parts. I’ll gladly take on an extra shift at the Y to cover that race-fee.

-The weather forecast looked promising. I know I mentioned this in my last post, but I wasn’t gonna sign up just to run a race in a full-out rainstorm. I’ve already done that. I know what it’s like, and I can handle it. It’s not my favorite thing to do in the world, though. So when I looked up the weather on Monday for this upcoming weekend, I was pleased to see a peachy-keen forecast (read: no crazy hot temperatures and no rain). Major plus, in my eyes.

NOTE: The forecast has now changed (doesn’t it always?), and Mr. WeatherMan is now calling for showers. Whatevs. I can deal. Now I get to feel hard-core for being a rain-racer again. And my medal will have an awesome story to go along with it. And if it doesn’t rain? Even better! In yo face, Mother Nature.

-I love the half-marathon distance. Seriously. It is my all-time favorite. Okay, that’s a lie. I don’t really know what my favorite race distance is now that I’ve run a full marathon. BUT! I sure do know I love this distance. The mileage is enough to make me feel like a BAMF (I mean heck, any race where you get a medal just for finishing is pretty damn awesome), and yet…it’s not too hard where you’re worn out for the rest of the day. Win!


I'm smiling b/c the half = Best. distance. evaaaaa!

-I *love* meeting people who are running this distance for the first time. I am all about chattin’ up a storm with other people who…

a) Can care less about time and are therefore slowpokes like me (hollaaa Team Turtle!)

b) Have been training their asses off to run a half marathon, and want to tell their story to any and everyone

c) Can talk and run at the same time (because I know not everyone can do that. If that’s the case, they can just listen to me talk. Or sing. What? It happens… :P).

-Even though Ryan won’t be cheering me on at the race (which means… Happy won’t be their either, wahhh!) he has offered to bike alongside me after I get home so I can get in the 5ish extra miles I’ll need to conclude my 18mile long-run. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but Ryan has recently gotten his bike fixed and now enjoys biking around town. I absolutely LOVE this. Not only does he bebop around town on his own, but he has also biked alongside me while I run a few times now. It is just so fun to have his company while I’m out on a run.(If you’ve missed it… running + Ryan do not mix too well thanks to a soccer injury from a few years back).

-This race means a lot to me. Not only do the proceeds for Davidson’s Run For Green benefit the enviornment…but I ran this same exact race 3 years ago as my first race EVER. That’s right, I jumped right into racing at the half-marathon distance. (Actually, to this day, I still have yet to run a 5K. Is that weird? Probably…).

But there’s an even bigger story behind this race and why it means so much to me.

Hm. Where to start…

Okay. Hear me out.

-Back in March of 2008, my aunt –Aunt Libby– went to see her doctor for a sore throat. Turns out, after some initial testing and multiple scans, her sore-feelin’-throat was a bit more complex than everyone originally thought. My aunt, a woman who had never smoked in her life, ate her fruits and veggies (grown from her very own backyard, mind you), and exercised every day… was  diagnosed with Stage IV cancer.


Talk about the shock of a lifetime.

This was my mom’s only sister, and it rocked our family. Hard.

At the time, my Aunt lived in a small town just North of Charlotte  (a town very close to Davidson, N.C. called Moorseville). Seeing as I was at the end of my senior year of college and figuring out my next steps in life…I choose “Charlotte” as  my top choice for city-placement on my AmeriCorps application (I can see lightbulbs going off in y’alls heads as to why I ended up in Charlotte…). Thankfully, I was accepted into the AmeriCorps program and they honored my top choice, so the day after graduation, I packed up my things and headed to Charlotte.

I spent a lot of that summer visiting with my aunt, cousins and other family members who came down to visit. I have a lot of positive memories from that summer, but it was still hard, nonetheless.

Me and my Aunt Libby, July 2008

We knew my aunt’s cancer was terminal, and as the months passed by, we saw just how aggressive her was… and how little time she had left.

In May, she was confined to a wheel chair. In June, the use of her limbs became very limited and she could no longer move herself around or lift things. Things soon became progressively worse — by July, she could no longer talk, and by August, she was no longer responsive. Hospice started a few days before her 64th birthday, on August 28th, and a few days after that, she was put on life support.

Sidenote: During this same time, my stepdad’s only brother, my Uncle Paul, suffered complications from diabetes after a standard root-canal procedure. He ended up losing consciousness one evening after he got home from work, was not found for two days, and as a result, suffered irreversible brain damage. He was put on life-support and my stepdad flew out to be with him during his last remaining days. He ultimately passed away a few days later.

Needless to say, August/September of 2008 was a very difficult time for my family. Especially my parents – as they both endured losing their only siblings at the exact same time.

It was during this summer, the summer of 2008, that I realized I was capable of taking on a “distance” race (thanks to a hardcore runner of a roommate!). As I’ve mentioned before, running acted as a form of therapy—it was a way to sort my thoughts about the craziness going on in my life. So without second thought, I signed up for a half marathon in a town very close to where my aunt lived —  the Davidson Run For Green half-marathon on September 20th, 2008.

I remember going on runs that summer, thinking of what it would be like to not only cross that finish line, but to also tell my Aunt that I had finished a half-marathon…and I did it for her. And let me tell you, when race-day arrived and that finish line finally came into my line of vision, emotion took over me and the tears started flowing. It was hard to breathe. people (and no, it was not related to my exercise induced asthma). I was overcome with both sad and happy tears at the same time.  Partly because I had run 13.1 miles (because really, who does that?!? 13.1 miles is A LOT of miles!) but mostly because I had accomplished a feat that seemed so tiny in comparison to my aunt’s fight against cancer. I knew my aunt wasn’t going to win her fight, but in that moment, I felt joyful because I had won for the both of us by crossing the finish line that day… and I was going to be able to tell her about it.  And was I excited to tell her about it. Of course, there were tears. Happy tears. And that day… September 20th, 2008 will remain a day of celebration to me.

Run For Green, 2008 -- my 1st Half Marathon!

A celebration of life, if you will. And rightfully so.

Because on September 21st, 2008, my aunt passed away.

And that is why this race means so much to me. And why I have come full circle.

I am running this race by myself tomorrow. Sure, I was sad when I brought the race up to Ryan last weekend and asked him if he’d want to watch me run. His answer? He’d rather sleep in. Which I totally understand, because truly…the man works hard! That’s when I called my mom, asking her if I should run the race…if I should “spend the forty bucks to run 13.1 miles… when I’d just be running 18 miles anyway…”. And that’s when I realized I wasn’t going to be running this race alone. (And that forty bucks isn’t gonna break the bank). I have my mom’s support. And obviously, I have my aunt’s support, too.

To say I am excited for tomorrow morning would be an understatement. I am not running for time (I mean let’s be serious now, do I ever? Mmmhm. My point exactly). I am running simply for the pleasure of being around people for 13.1 miles. To experience that buzz of a “race” atmosphere that I’ve come to love so much. I am running to break up the monotony of marathon-training. To take in the country-side scenery, and to feel the peacefulness and sense of calm I felt three years ago on that very course.

But most importantly? I am running this race to remember my aunt. I am doing this for me. To come full circle.

I’m sure I’m about to go through one hell of an emotional rollercoaster along the way. And, thankfully Ryan will be waiting for me when I get home, bike at the ready, eager to listen to me ramble on and share about my experienceSmile.

Have you or a loved one ever been touched by the face of cancer? Have you ever dedicated a race to someone? Do you like to race alone? Or would you rather know you have people on the sidelines, cheering you on? Have you ever “come full circle” with anything?



Filed under death, family, half marathon, marathon, my story, races, recap, running, Ryan, Savannah RockNRoll Marathon, training

41 responses to “Coming Full Circle

  1. My Flying Pig Half Marathon medal ALWAYS be my most treasured, not because it was my first big race, but because I got to share it with my Daddy. The day after the race, my Mom and I visited him in the nursing home, and I had my t-shirt and medal on under my jacket. At that point, Dad was having good days and bad days… sometimes he was as with it as he’d ever been, and other times he wasn’t quite all there. So, to my surprise, as soon as he saw me he looked me right in the eye and said, “DId you run the Flying Pig yesterday??” without even seeing my shirt or medal. My Mom and I looked at each other in surprise, and then of course, I told him all about it, every minute. And he just held my medal in his hands, turning it over and looking at it, and at me with a huge smile on his face. He passed away only 2 short months later.

    I’m sure my first marathon medal (which hopefully I’ll have TOMORROW… eek!!) will be meaningful, but that Flying Pig medal will always take the cake, because I got to share it with him and see how proud he was of me. Ian & I will be running the Columbus Half Marathon in October in his memory, and we’re raising money for hospice care, too. I’m sure it’s going to be one heck of an emotional ride!

    • Bahhh! Your story has me in tears. I so wish I could have met you at the Expo back in May! (Flying Pig was my first full, and that medal means the world to me, too!). I know you are going to ROCK that marathon tomorrow!!!!! Good luck and make sure to let me know how it goes 🙂

  2. Becca

    What a beautiful memory and honor! I”m sure it will be a great run tomorrow, knowing you have the support from afar.
    Good luck and enjoy it and the hoefully gorgeous running weather!

  3. SURE HAVE! and I can’t wait, wait, wait to do the marine corps marathon for zero:the project to end prostate cancer for my daddy. 🙂 I love how you have a “I ran for her” story, too, allison!

  4. I know you will have a great run! Good luck girlie, and I can’t wait to hear all about it!

  5. rob

    Awesome story! Great reason to run this race and for the price it would be tempting to run it every year. Best of luck! You shooting for a PR?

    • Nah, not for this race. I figure…why push myself and risk injury when I wasn’t even signed up for this race 5 days ago? My goal is to go through this marathon training cycle injury-free, and for me, that means taking it super slow and stopping to stretch whenever I feel the need. I took this approach when I incorporated a 1/2 marathon into an 18mile long-run back in March, and was able to follow this gameplan to a tee. Sure, it’s hard to *not* bust across the startline with the rest of the pack, but this also allows me to settle into a pace. We’ll see what happens tomorrow! Thanks for the well wishes 🙂

  6. I haven’t ever run a race in honor of someone but I love when I see people who do. I always ask to hear the story and then try not to cry.

  7. Wow truly inspirational. That is so exciting to run a race in memory of someone. Good luck girl and what a seriously great price for that half!

  8. Liz

    Wow, such a great story… and because of that, I think it was a no brainer for you to sign up for the race! My grandpa had cancer and chose not to treat it, I can only imagine losing a family member at an even younger age like your aunt. Run with pride tomorrow!

  9. cottercrunch

    this is beautiful! This race will be so memorable. You are not alone. We will all be there in spirit cheering you on and so will your aunt!

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  11. Good thing I was there to cheer ya on, I got some pics of you at the start on my blog, feel free to post them on here if you want! So glad to meet you and I hope you had a wonderful race!

  12. Aww, thanks so much for sharing your story, Allison! I hope you ran with passion this morning, and that you finished with a sense of “completeness.” Your Aunt Libby would be so proud of you! xoxo

  13. So touching! How nice to run a race with a real purpose and connection to something so painful but important. I hope you had a great run and can’t wait to hear how it went!

  14. Wow what a touching story, you are such a wonderful person to honor your family i such a way 🙂 I am so sorry you went through such difficulties in 2008… that sort of situation should of course never happen to everyone. Your Aunt would be so proud of you amazing lady!

  15. LOVELY POST!! and waiting for the update…

  16. It’s so great that you were able to step outside of your comfort zone and go alone! The funny thing is, is that although I only ever train alone (and that gets up to 3 hours of running alone), I’ve only ever raced a few times alone. But each time I did I felt so much more empowered. One of those times was a triathlon so I had to worry about all of my gear–and my bicycle–by myself. But it worked out great. Plus, I always meet other people (I guess when I go with friends or my boyfriend I only talk to them). Nice job!!! 🙂

    • Thanks, girl!! And i train for races all by myself, too!!! Kind of makes it funny that I was so worried about traveling to a race by myself when I hardly ever run them with people.. but you are right, running races solo is definitely empowering! I love it 🙂

  17. I am sorry to hear about your Aunt. Our family is going through two loved ones diagnosed with cancer. My MIL’s cancer is terminal 😦 I will be running the Susan G. Komen on Oct. 1st. I love the little town of Davidson. My grandparents lived at Lake Norman and we would always drive through Davidson when going to see them for Sunday dinner. I can’t wait to try running a half-marathon. Good luck this weekend.

  18. Congrats on your race! How could anyone turn down a $40 half mary?? That’s so nuts! I’m so sorry to hear about your aunt! My mother’s entire family is from Mooresville and Kanapolis…small world. I bet we have relatives that know each other.

  19. I have had to deal with cancer in my family, too. My father passed away 8 years ago with lung cancer. Although I haven’t run a race in a while, whenever I run as part of my workout, I think of him often. If I am having trouble getting through the run, I just think of him and all that he went through. If he could go through hell then I can survive a couple mile run.

  20. Wow! Deciding whether or not to do a half on such short notice? I couldn’t dream of being that fit on any given day. Good for you!

    • Aw, thank you! I count my lucky stars every day for the ability to run. I didn’t always like to run, though! I used to haaaaate it and saw it as punishment back in HS when they made us run during tennis practice. I think a lot of that had to do with my exercise induced asthma, though…

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