In January of 2013, just a few months after losing Nate, I made a crazy leap and signed up for a half marathon. Let’s be really clear – I was in no condition to start training for a half marathon (not mentally, physically, or emotionally) but something in me knew I had to commit to something that year. I needed a goal to work towards. I needed that reward. I needed that feeling of accomplishment. I needed something that was just for me. I was not a runner (I’m still not a runner) but I was determined to learn to run and get better at it. By late summer, I was tackling long runs and learning to love the time it gave me to just do something for me, to be lost in thought, to “just be”. Learning to love that with every step I was running into life. A life, that no matter my pain, I wasn’t willing to give up and because running gave me a source of motivation and control when all everything else fell apart in my world In August, I fell down the stairs, and sprained my ankle terribly. I was so upset with life’s cards at that point because the one thing in life that I was working so hard for… was being ripped from me. Against the doctors advice, I ran in that half marathon anyway, just weeks after getting my boot off and still in physical therapy, and not having finished all of my training. I was determined that I was going to finish what I set out to do back in January. Around mile 8 the pain set in unbearably… but I kept moving… slow but moving. Because, it was a parallel to my life, no matter the pain… I will finish what I started. Mentally, I couldn’t give up… I had to cross that finish line. Looking back, I lost track of the time from that point on, I actually don’t remember much of the last few miles of that race, but I know when I rounded that last corner and saw Justin, Drew, and Kaylee standing there – I realized it was life I was running towards. Not the finish line. With Kaylee on my hip and Drew in my hand, I crossed that finish line in tears that I accomplished it, no matter the challenge thrown my way. Despite the pain, my life will keep moving forward, one step at a time. I want to run towards life and not away from it.
This race was inspired by the support we got when the team formed for that first half marathon. It’s now been on my heart for 3 years. Like this unobtainable dream that kept flickering back to my heart. Every year at our annual board meeting we’d float the idea around again and always push it off another year because it was a task that seemed so overwhelming and more of a risk. We weren’t sure what to expect and would discuss the risks and the time it would take the grow the race and would always lean towards waiting another year to review it again. Since, that half marathon in 2013, we have organized several Team Nate races. In September 2015, we ran the Howard County Police Pace with about 75 other Team Nate runners. I’ll never forget the moment, I looked around at 70 plus supporters, running a race, in a Team Nate shirt… and thinking “We have 75 people right here ready to run for Team Nate. What are we doing? Or better put… What are we NOT doing that we COULD be doing?” So that desire to keep moving forward in big ways set in.
And there it began, I prayed every night that God would lead my heart on planning a race. I always pray that God will keep His hands all over our foundation, but never as specifically as an event. That November, as we sat around my dining room table meeting with our board, I approached the idea again. But this time, more passionately. Even though I was scared, I was confident we could do this. I was just nervous enough that as the board agreed to research what a 5K would take to put on that I didn’t jump up first to chair it. Luckily, our board member Chad Baker (no relation), said “Okay I’ll look into it.”
Literally, before I knew it, in a matter of weeks we had found out what permitting would take, found a location, picked a date, and were jumping in …. literally feet first. Our team of 3 on the committee, Chad Baker, Doug Comer, and myself took off running! We really didn’t have a grand idea of what we were doing but somehow we all knew… it would be GREAT. We picked the date of May 15, 2016. Within a few weeks we learned that this was the birth date of Sarah Jayne Orton. Sarah passed away in 2013 as a Kindergartner as well and my heart immediately knew I wanted The Great 5K to host a 1 mile fun run in Sarah’s memory. This was the first moment in this journey that I knew God played a role in the planning. That timing wasn’t us alone. We are honored to be able to host the 1 mile run in her memory.
Once we got through the initial research and planning the rest of the race planning fell into place. Skipping to last Saturday night, when the race sold out. I literally laid in bed waiting for the 400th registrant to register. The smile was from ear to ear, my eyes filled with tears. How did we get here? How did we get from being scared, jumping in feet first, to now hosting a “SOLD OUT” race? Uhm, wow… on our first year! Then it literally struck me as I was reminded so vividly that it is not me alone. It is not our 5K team alone. I was brought to tears in an instant as I was reminded that we don’t do this alone. We do this with Him. The success of the 5K was not our work alone. As much as I’d love to take partial credit for it with my team… it just couldn’t have been only us.
Now here we are… just 3 weeks away from race day with a SOLD OUT race. (Really, did I just say that?!) And we are busy putting together all the final details of the race. We have 400 runners that will be on site running and we have another 24 registered to run virtually across the country. Our foundation has incredible support – in our 1st year we have 19 sponsors! I can easily get caught up in the busy-ness of all the details but when I step back and look in from the outside, I just say WOW. He is GREAT. I know Nate is smiling down from heaven and I’m willing to bet, with Sarah by his side, saying “I told you so!”.
All my love,