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Last year, I had been training to run the New York City Marathon in honor of my gravely ill best friend Jack. Unfortunately, the race was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. The day after, Jack decided that we sign up to run the NYC Half Marathon on March 17, 2013. Jack really believed God would give him more time to be here and certainly be here for this race.
Tragically, my BFF Jack passed away a month after. I’m not going to lie. After Jack’s death, it was so hard for me to run again.
I’m not really a runner anyway and the emotion made it very difficult for me to train. California beaches became my inspirational spots to try to get back up again. I committed myself to train for this race in honor of Jack. Then, my family and I received more horrible news – our beloved nanny/housekeeper passed away. For ten days, I was emotionally and physically exhausted.
The evening before the race, my sister, my daughter Grady and I attended Saturday night mass at St. Patrick Cathedral. The last time I was in this church was with Jack on September, 11th, 2012. I was overwhelmed with emotion. I think we lit the most candles after mass.
Later that night I couldn’t sleep, so I re-read my old text messages from Jack dated from when the marathon was cancelled on November 2nd until the day before his lung collapsed on November 28th. Sadly, we would never communicate again. I wept and smiled at his amazing strength through what would be the end. I confirmed that we really did sign up for the NYC half marathon the day after the marathon was cancelled, in case I had any doubt. ☺
On the day of the Half Marathon, I connected with a friend, Ellen who I paced my race with, at the starting line. Ellen comforts me in the 29 degree weather by saying that I would be okay since I had trained for this race and had done a ten mile run recently. I just grinned and nodded. Truth be told, I had actually only ran a total of ten miles since November because of the emotional and physical hardships I encountered in the past months and the many hurdles that seemed to be in my way.
At the ten-mile mark, (when I struggled during the last half marathon I ran last August) I looked up at the sky and said out loud to Jack “Give me your one lung. I need it now!”
At that very moment, my IPod got stuck on a song that I normally would skip because it was too slow. I tried everything to forward the song, change the volume, or even turn it off but it was stuck. Truly! The song reminded me so much of Jack and our conversations sometimes about life. I came back from the race searching for the song … “Mad World” by Michael Andrews (it’s an old Tears for Fears song). I found two amazing videos on YouTube to this song. I strongly encourage you to look them up! Jack always said he was the lucky one going to heaven and that his family and the rest of us were left here to deal with life and our crazy/mad world. After that song the iPod was still stuck, this time on a Spanish song titled “Hasta que Te Conoci” by Mana. I couldn’t translate the entire song but I had a feeling it was a happy song and reminded me of Teresa, our nanny who just passed away. This song too I couldn’t move on the iPod. After those two songs, I was overcome with a burst of energy all the way to the finish line.
I finished the race one minute ahead of the Half Marathon I ran last August — a true experience of MIND over BODY! And at the finish line was Jack’s wife, Meg and Jack’s Mom, with my sister, Jen and Grady.
Wrapped in a foil blanket frozen still in the 29 degree weather, I was thrilled and blessed we could share hugs of joy knowing that Jack too was smiling BIG with his favorite girls all in one place! For me I felt the closure I know I needed these past 3 months and I have some real clarity on how to live a better life through my friendship with Jack.
There is no doubt in my mind that the spirit of Jack helped me accomplish the Half Marathon. And my iPod works fine now too! It’s been quite a journey but I don’t think there’s another run in my future — thinking about trying yoga… I know for sure… I plan to live by Jack’s words and hope to influence those around me to do the same like he did for me!
“Keep running to something…not away. Know how to clear the hurdles just enough to keep going to the next one. If you spend too much energy to clear one hurdle or to clear it by too much you may trip over the next one. Know the right balance…better chance of finishing.” –Jack
Together we’re about to do amazing things – Thanks for being here.
Karen Phelps Moyer