Since our website went live a few short weeks ago, so much has happened. I’ve had this blog started in my head for quite some time now, yet every time I’ve been ready to sit down and bust it out, something else happens. Another piece comes to life that I must include. And as I write, the statement “This is so much bigger than me” comes to mind. Our pink flower represents this message and so, I wore it today for one of my final training runs.
This past September, Fellow Flowers was invited to participate in the inaugural Biggest Loser Run/Walk event in Racine, Wisconsin. It was an honor to be asked to take part at such an event. The weather was perfect, the staff was friendly and welcoming and the city was quite a lil gem. Mel had family commitments so another Original, Sarah was by my side, working her first expo. I was so thrilled she could experience this lovely race.
As with any expo, listening to women share their stories was our favorite part. They curiously approach the table, read our statement cards and find a color that represents their purpose. Their meaning. Their story. Better yet, they talk to us, and they share…
Overcame cancer with courage – bought green.
Newly divorced and running her first race since – bought white.
Longest distance since having a baby – bought black.
Mom of two babies whose own mom had been badly burned, both out there doing it anyway – bought purple.
Two woman battling their weight loss journey together – bought dark pink.
A group of friends who met for the weekend to do the race together – bought orange.
The list goes on.
During a question and answer hour, Biggest Loser contestants and race ambassadors Jackie and Dan spoke of their experience on the show – their lifelong weight struggle and how they’ve kept it off and battled their fears along the way. My ears perked when Jackie took the microphone and simply stated. “Everyone has a struggle.” Yes, even the woman in the back who has completed six iron-mans. She has hers. Jackie said, “It’s just when yours is weight, it’s out there for the world to see, which can make it feel more difficult.”
She reminded everyone standing in that audience that we were there for a common goal, working together. We were making a choice to do something healthy to help attack the fear, not judging or comparing to others, but because of your OWN reason. Wow. What a perfect place for Fellow Flowers.
The Biggest Loser’s mission is to provide a non-intimidating race environment for its participants and that it did. Watching the starting line that morning is a moment I will never forget. Seeing woman wave, smile, begin walking, running, marching on together, many with flowers in their hair – it was beyond powerful.
The following weekend brought on three big local events for us. On tap that Saturday morning was our 20 miler for marathon training, as well as both the local Alzheimer’s walk and the Lake Superior Shore Run 5K and Half Marathon. Four of us busted out 18 miles in the wind and rain and then, we met my family and kiddos at the Alzheimer’s walk and ran the last two miles with them. The 20 miler was done and off the list. Check.
The women in my family wore purple flowers in their hair. It’s the Alzheimer’s color. We have done this race the last four years in honor of my Grandpa Bill. This was the first year that we ran in memory of him. The previous day I had made a request to close friends – ‘If you are heading out for a run, wear purple.’ Being the kind souls they are, they did just that. I received the most beautiful messages and pictures of my girlfriends sporting their purple flowers for Alzheimer’s. For Grandpa Bill. As a result of my request, one of my girlfriends shared this message with me. She was questioning whether to run the next day. It warms my heart to its core.
“Tori…your words…your words resonated…I will run tomorrow, my first half marathon trail run…I will take in every beautiful sight…rain or shine…and hold them in my memory…for all of those who would love nothing more than to do so…I will wear purple…no excuses…to making the most of the moments we make our precious memories…running scared in the spirit of white, I will BLOOM with purple!”
– Kellie Boase, Fellow Flower
Bigger than me. Bigger than you. Bigger than us.
As I approach marathon weekend, I think back and vividly remember an “ah-ha” moment from last year’s race. We came upon the river and were crossing the bridge around mile 12 when I saw a sign in the crowd. “Someday you will not be able to do this. Today is NOT that day.” It struck and resonated within me for so many reasons. The words made me keep looking around. Reading the countless signs being held by strangers, reading the shirts the other runners were wearing; In memory of, In Honor of, Running for _____, charities, matching shirts, socks, outfits. Everywhere I looked I saw the symbols of countless people doing something for someone other than themselves. It was in that moment that I fully understood what a selfless tribute running can be and why it creates an atmosphere of emotion and positivity unlike any other I’ve witnessed. It’s bigger than the person who is running the minutes and miles. Always.
I had the Original orange flower tucked into my ponytail. I knew that I too was running for more than just me. It represented our friendship, our fierce unity, our beautiful and organic bond that was created by training for a race together. I ran for THEM and their stories that they so courageously shared along the way. We had started a beautiful and unique thing that was meant to Bloom beyond.
In four short days several of us will be running this marathon together. Fellow Flowers will be hitting the streets of Chicago to run 26.2 miles. We have trained for 18 weeks and endured life along the way. We run for reasons beyond ourselves-the BLOOM foundation created by Dr. Breanna Pond, an Original, and The Ronald McDonald House led by Heather McFarren, who raised money for their charity. We run for each other… our hopes, fears, struggles, dreams, and stories.
We run for you. Remember… it’s ALWAYS bigger.