I’m blessed with the best. Really I am. I open my email the other night to find an email from my friend Sara. Typical, no subject line, no words in the body of the email, just a link for me to click on and see where it takes me. (one never knows with Sara!) I end up on the Runners World Cover Contest Page . Before I scroll down, I have to laugh and think, it’s probably a picture of her and I drinking wine rather than running or some joke, nothing serious. As I scroll I am completely brought to tears. This girl, she never ceases to amaze me. Below the picture she describes herself in one word and also what personal running accomplishment she is most proud of: (while you are there, take a second and vote please, I mean why not…you’re there! And keep voting daily as well. Please share the link and have others vote for us too) click here——:> Our Runners World Cover Contest Picture
The photo was taken by a member of the Union Leader, a local newspaper in NH. He captured what was one of the most emotional moments in our running lives. Crossing the finish line with my best friend, holding hands and fighting for a cure & raising awareness for the terrible disease. The photographer asked to take our picture after we crossed and he jotted down our names. We didn’t know THIS photo existed until the next day when it made it’s way to the cover. I was so moved by her thoughtfulness to choose this picture and help raise awareness for Pancreatic Cancer in memory of Marie. Will we win the Runners World Cover Contest, probably not. But that’s okay. To me, it’s not about winning (as freaken awesome as that would be) My hope is that people see it and are inspired to run and raise awareness as we do. I just had to ask Sara some questions (after I thanked her of course):
Heidi and Sara’s shirts say ” I’m running for Marie” . Mine says ” I’m running for my Mama B”
Why did you choose the word empowering?
“I chose the words empowering because a small race has a big ripple effect. Running for a cause makes a race personal, emotional, and meaningful. The City of Manchester NH half marathon is the hilliest in the state. Marie empowered me and I hope running empowers others to do what they can. The website speaks of it as highly difficult half marathon. We ran this entire course and each hill big and little had a bigger meaning. There were times I wanted to give up and walk or stop running. You pushed me because you knew of the larger fight. It spoke of the highs and lows that Marie was experiencing and her tenacity to fight, and her family’s determination to fight with her. It took everything out of us and we were left exhausted, emptied, and yet proud that we were able to make a difference in one small run.”
What did you learn on this day?
“Sometimes in life you can’t change circumstances but I learned on this day, running is within my power. I can run, and I can make a difference even if I can’t change circumstances or a diagnosis. It was powerful to see friends and family come out with signs and cheer us on that day. Remember I called to check on you that evening and you mentioned you guys were having a conversation about pastries. I remember distinctly going to three bakeries that night so Marie could have a lobster tail. Each one I went to was closed and just as Marie was inspiring us and fighting I was determined to get her the lobster tails. I finally found them and was able drop them off for Marie, with our pictures of the race on the box. I know she knew she was leaving behind a legacy far beyond her friends and family. A legacy for the community on hope, strength, and love. You and I finished and as we rounded the corner completely exhausted all we could do was cry and love each other- so very parallel to what any family must feel. We did what we could in that moment because we were inspired by Marie’s fight.”
How did you feel running the race in 2013?
“Since then, I have run this course with the same purple shirt and purple balloons at a friend’s house on the course. Strangers have commented while running they would donate. They have yelled for me to keep going for Marie when I have stopped. Recently in my running group, someone lost her dad to pancreatic cancer and she is involved in the NH Pancreatic Cancer group. It’s amazing how many people are affected and what wearing a purple shirt can do. One day, one race can change a lifetime the same way one diagnosis can.”
Thank you Sara and to all of our friends who support us. This is a day I will never forget. The evening before the race, I was able to show Mama B our shirts and tell her that we were running for her. I remember hugging her and her crying – she was so touched that anyone would do such a thing, for her of all people. Marie was the most selfless person. Truly honored that we were out there fighting for her and raising awareness and honoring her. I remember the race day well. I remember all the tears that were shed as we pushed up each hill. Small or big, they were difficult, like life. Like Marie’s fight. Like everyones battle with anything difficult. But we did it. I remember not speaking except to respond to Sara’s repeated question “are you ok?”
The next morning Marie passed away and our lives changed forever. All we can do now is remember the beautiful woman Marie was and try to live life like she did; always taking the time for those important to her. Life is now dedicated to making change and creating HOPE for a cure.
I love you Mama B, I hope you are proud. xoxo