As I have mentioned in past blogs, any chance we get to educate people we try our hardest. Local races is one of the venues we have alot of fun at. We had the opportunity to run with some friends of ours at the Family Fun Run at Wardlake. It was a typical southeast alaska rainy day. My little cousins were in town from Arizona and decided they wanted to run the race with us.
I had urged, well to be honest, told Richard he was going to run the 5k. In the past he has just done the 1 mile race with the kids and then cheered me on as I did the 5k on my own. I knew that he could handle the race since we had ran together in a virtual race just the month prior. I have to admit it was my favorite date this year. It was miserably cold and side ways rain was beating our house’s windows. My dad willingly came over and let us go. I had thought we were just going to do a 2 mile run, something that someone in Richard’s “shape” could do. We approached the turn around and he told me, “hey lets keep going”…really…I was shocked and wasn’t going to argue since training for the 1/2 marathon I find anything less then 6 miles almost a waist of time…truthfully!
So there we were running and all of a sudden I realized I lost my running partner, I stopped, turned around and went back for the person who looked like they were about to lose the big breakfast they slaved all morning on. At one point I heard him yell to me, “hey, do you know how manly I feel letting you take the lead?!?”. So our virtual race with all the other people around the world running for their CFers soon looked like the tortise and the hair. It was alot of fun, and he was a great sport about it and managed to keep his breakfast and part of his pride at the end.
The kids had a blast running the Family Fun Run. My mom even ran the 1 mile pushing Kyre, I ran with cayden in the front and Ezzy and Richard held up the back. Our little cousins ran their hearts out, not complaining and soon became proud of their accomplishment. Our friends’ little 2 year old even ran part of the race! She has been such a blessing in Ezzy’s life and has been a her social life. Richard and I started the 5k together, but I soon heard my husband wave me off and say, “GO, don’t wait for me”. I couldn’t help but listen, its really hard to hold back, so I double checked with him and looked for any doubt mixed with the pain written on his face from trying to keep a pace that was close to mine. I ran off, alone with my thoughts, praying, like always do for the little girl who has changed me in every possible way. Running for her has become my best therapy. Its the time of the week, I am guaranteed to be alone, uninterrupted, and its when I can talk with God. There have been many runs where I have had an agenda and in the end, finished with God showing me that its HIS desires I need to be asking for.
It was this same race last year that I ran and had someone come up to me after asking about my “breathing for Ezzy” shirt. I told her about Ezzy, tears building up, and handed her my CF bracelet and told her to think about my girl each time she ran. I honestly NEVER thought I would see her again, since she had explained to me that she didn’t live in Alaska.
I received a letter just a few months ago, with this picture attached.
The woman had hunted me down, I don’t even recall telling her my name. She told me in the letter she had been running for our Ezzy the last year and was SO excited when she ran her first 10k for Ez. She told me that her and her family would be coming up for the blueberry arts fair and was hoping to officially meet and maybe run together!
When my sweet friend Kelsey found out that we were going to run the blueberry race she took it upon herself to make “team Ezzy” shirts for our little support group. We had two other families from our church who wanted to stand/walk/run along side us. Kels took it upon herself to make shirts for ALL the little kids and their parents. It was a labor of love and she gave up many naps and evening hours when she could have been resting after caring for her own 2 little ones two and under.
Race day came and I anxiously waited to meet the woman who had heard just a small snippet of our story and chose to become an advocate. I was trying to squash the competitive person I had become since running. I loved race day, it was so much fun to run and try and beat my PR each race. But this race was going to be different. This race I had to go back to the very reason I picked up running at all. Thanks to my nervous friend who held me accountable, reminding me what “its really about”, I knew I had to humble myself and run along side someone who very well didn’t run the same pace as me. I decided to not listen to music and just run with this person I had only spoken to once since the race last year.
Cayden ran his little heart out, he ended up taking 8th out of 18th in the race. He was the youngest little guy to run that fast!!!! Our friends’ daughter ran with us, her very 1st race and was such a joy to run with. Her and cayden pushed each other and encouraged one another the whole way. Ezzy had a different experience and completely went into shambles as she approached the MASSIVE group of people watching the finish line. Everyone started cheering, those who knew our story cheered louder and I looked around and saw people in pure awe of the little 3 year who was defying science before their eyes.
The time came for the “team ezzy” stroller gang and me and my new running partner to get to the starting line. Our friends signed up to walk the 5k while we did the 10k. It was strange to run without music, I soon became aware of my surroundings. I could hear the slapping of many feet hitting the pavement, I could hear the labor of breaths being taken while running up the steep hill, but the thing I will never forget is Kels yelling to me “whose idea was this Sarah Harney?!?” I turned around at the top of the hill to see the stroller gang marching up the hill all pushing the youngest members of “team Ezzy”. My heart was full in that moment seeing our friends laughing and doing something that required alot of effort and time to do, just for a little 3 year old.
My 10k was amazing. I ran, prayed, and soon found myself praying for the woman running next to me. I started to thank God for the sun he decided to hide after 2 weeks of 70+ weather. I thanked him for the light breeze that was enriched with salt water. I thanked him for the ease my body was running at and more importantly the strong breaths I was taking.
The next thing I did was completely out of norm for me. I started to talk with my new running partner. She shared with me her families story. I soon found out why her tender heart was drawn to Ezzy. We talked about challenges moms face, the hard part of making decisions, and having confidence to be advocates. It was easily established that we knew deep down that our children came to us for a reason. I was able to share my faith with her, telling her that I had to rely on the fact that God had hand picked Richard and I for a reason.
We may not have won the race, but at the end as we hugged each other I knew that what happened on the pavement was meant to minister to my heart.
Its hard to not feel alone, its hard when your child looks normal on the outside, because soon the daily battle you are called to fight becomes a silent one. The race had provided me a chance to share my heart, to be heard and to be validated that it is hard having a sick child, and to be reminded that God chose me because at the end of the day I maybe weary but am no way near giving up.
I am currently writing this while nap time is taking place on this cold Fall day…yeah…I said it. I watched the first leaf fall on saturday during a very typical fall storm. There will be no more races for “team ezzy” to run in, but I can’t believe how much we accomplished this summer. Even if it was just to tell our story to few people who asked about our shirts, to minister to my momma’s heart, or to make a few people wonder about this little girl who’s call in life is to glorify God in each achievement she makes!