On Sunday April 13th my sister, Jenn, ran her first half marathon. I was so incredibly proud of her and loved watching her add miles and grow as a runner. (Even if she was beating me week after week on FitBit, but that’s another story, another bottle of wine). The Saturday before I was so nervous and excited for her! But, she was cool, calm and collected as she usually is. We texted about the race day conditions, what to wear, strategy – everything! The whole time I felt so sad I wasn’t going to be there for her. Jenn has ALWAYS been there for me. Every single important event in my life she has done whatever she could to be there by my side.I actually credit my running career to Jenn as she was the one who asked me to run my first 5k – The Kalamazoo Classic at WMU Homecoming in 2002. I remember like it was yesterday. It was a cold October morning and we were huddled in the Bernhard Center before heading out to meet the cold conditions. The sun was just coming up and the street started to fill with bundled up runners near the START LINE. Jenn had bought me “real” running shorts since the only ones I had were old cheer camp shorts so I looked “official” but certainly did not feel legit! I was nervous but tried to appear confident and strong in front of my big sister. We ran the first mile together when Jenn abruptly stopped at mile 1 (very unlike her?) She told me to go on… I wanted to stay with her but the running bug was starting to plant inside me and I was off! Later I learned she was pregnant with my youngest nephew Colin who was born that May! (She was having to watch her heart rate) The Kalamazoo Classic was the only real “race” I did for the next few years. Even Paul joined a few times! You can imagine how the competition heated up once he arrived on the scene 😉
Fast forward through a wedding, a move to Dallas and a few “Firsts” of Half’s, Full’s, Sprint Tri’s and my addiction was in full force!I was gearing up for the Chicago Marathon of 2011. Training that summer was brutal in Dallas – we had over 100 days of 100 degree weather! But, little did I know it prepared me for a hot October race day.
Race weekend was spent visiting with friends and family while still trying to stay off my feet 😉 Always a challenge at destination races! The night before we all went out for a family style Italian dinner so I could carb up. We were almost done with our meal when I see my sister arrive – who had clearly been fighting Chicago traffic the whole way from Kalamazoo – with Connor and Colin in tow (still in soccer uniforms) powering through the restaurant to make sure she could wish me good luck and give me the “throw away” clothes she promised me before tomorrow. I thought to myself – I love her. She is amazing.
Chicago ended up being the toughest race of my life. I was not trained up to hit the time I did. I truly ran those last six with heart and pushed limits beyond what I knew possible. It was the love and support of those who believed in me that carried me through. (That and caffeinated GU’s) But, it had been worth it. That day I had qualified for Boston. I pretty much clasped at the finish and almost found myself in the med tent if it wasn’t for Jenn and Paul taking such good care of me. (Yeah, imagine all my closest, dearest friends & family – including in-laws – seeing me squeal in pain and roll in the grass – awesome. No shame I tell you. No shame.)Jenn finished her first half in 2 hours and 19 minutes – an awesome time! Wow! And, Today she finished her second Half Marathon! (I think she has the bug!) But, as the gun went off each of those race day mornings I couldn’t help but wonder … What if she needed me at mile 11 the way I need her at 25?
Near or far Jenn is the first person I call after a first. She understands, she gets me. I know she would say the exact same about her Jules. #solesisters