It’s been one week.
One week since our muscles have loosened, our aches have subsided and our smiles have – oh wait – nope, they’re still glued to our faces. Fellow Flowers running the streets of Chicago was one of the coolest experiences ever. What a city – what a crowd – and what a sight watching hundreds of flowers take to the streets and cross the finish line. Breathtaking. Nearly 400 women ran with flowers. Amidst thousands of runners, Fellow Flowers represented the dreams, hopes, journeys and stories of some very, very special women. So yes, while the 26.2 miles were incredible, equally as powerful were the women we met at the expo and came upon during the race. All of us – one foot in front of the other – in life and that morning on the course.
Last Monday, just 24 hours after running Chicago, one of our Original Flowers sent us the note below. Bre, for those who don’t know her, is one of the strongest, most inspiring women you’ll ever meet. She makes time for running, her friends, her family, her Michigan State Spartans and her community. She is also a full-time rock star obstetrician/gynecologist practicing in Marquette, Michigan, delivering cute lil’ babies (or as we like to call them Flowers in Training and Little Buds.) She’s also a mother to three little kiddos and part of the daily carpool shuffle. On top of all this, she made time in her insanely busy schedule to train for a freakin’ marathon.
Yes, join us as we bow down to the ah-mazing multi-tasking organizational master.
Not only was she the one who kick started this crazy Chicago endeavor, during her training, she also spurred the creation of a non-profit organization called BLOOM. BLOOM focuses on providing new moms the education, empowerment and welcoming community to get on the track towards healthier lifestyles. We all know that when mom has something to smile about, it inspires the entire family to find reasons to be healthy and happy.
It was Bre – back in January – who declared she would run Chicago. We thank her for putting herself out there and stating her goal. It was her courage that inspired us to run as well. And these words – these powerful words – we thank her for graciously letting us share them with all of you…
I am having a hard time even putting into words what this weekend meant to me.
Almost two years ago now when Tori asked us to run in that infamous half marathon, I did NOT want to – I hated running. I did NOT get ‘it.’ That race changed me. But yet, when it was done, I did my normal… I stopped running.
And then I went and watched Tori and my sister Leah run the Chicago marathon last year. I wished I was doing it, yet seriously had no desire.
Bring on January 2012. I sent an email to our Originals declaring, “I am putting it into words – I am going to do the Chicago full.” Damn – I couldn’t believe it when I actually pressed send.
Within minutes Mel sent a message that said, “make that two flowers in Chicago.”
And then Tori responded for her, Sarah and Monica.
This all happened within hours. ‘Wow, I have others.’
And then with my partner Stephanie, Dr. Ritter and Julie, we create BLOOM.
Ok, this is for real now.
Oh, how time flies. I’m building up my miles to just be able to do 3, then the Soldier Field 10 mile, the Chicago Women’s Half, followed by a true marathon training, with a peak of 20 miles. Then injury. Screeching halt.
Orthopedic surgeon, podiatrist, physical therapy, steroids, massage, tape, rest, rest, rest. Can I do it? Should I do it? I don’t know what to do. So I wait and rest. Physically feeling like my body is failing me. Mentally, I feel worse.
And then, I find out we have raised over $17,000 for BLOOM. And suddenly, it’s time. It’s marathon weekend. I’m going to try. I need to experience it, to feel it. If I have to walk off because of pain, I will, but I don’t want to.
The weather was perfect. Pre-race with the girls was epic. The start corral was packed. And then it started. 29 suburbs packed with spectators. Miles 1,3,5,6,9,13,15,16,20,25.2 were our families – are you kidding me? Ten times! How do I remember? You mean, how do I forget?
Mile 16 pain set in. Ok, you’re this far Bre. Walk and run, get through. At the 40K mark, my sister Leah who was running with me said, “You have 14 tenths to go!” (14 is my lucky number.) And at that second, Garth Brooks “Shameless” came on my iPod. (He is my all time favorite.) Tears welled up and within seconds, we were at mile 25.2.
I looked up and there were all of my friends, my Fellow Flower family and my own amazing family cheering me on. Overwhelmed with emotion, it was that moment when I knew I was going to do it. I would finish.
I have told people a marathon was a one-time thing. Well, I can’t say that anymore. The journey was priceless, the run was epic… and for the first time in my life, I won’t stop running…because now, I get “it.”
What changed? What happened? Fellow Flowers, that’s what happened.
Living in the Marquette community? The BLOOM Foundation is currently enrolling for its upcoming winter session. The program will begin Thursday, January 10th, and last for eight weeks. It runs from 6:45-8:00 pm at the Marquette YMCA. If you’ll be a new mom this winter or know someone who will be, we encourage you to learn more about the program! Visit the website or call the hospital’s Women’s and Children’s Center at 906-225-3081 to enroll.