Kathy Sebright

Writer. Speaker. Believer. Runner. Truth Enthusiast.


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A love like a fairy tale

Happily ever after. That’s what they say, right? You’ve found the one to live out all of your days with and your storybook ending awaits.

I was downstairs running on my treadmill late that night. Our two little boys were already asleep in their beds. My husband and I had been fighting on and off for what felt like forever. Life had turned increasingly chaotic with our son’s diagnosis, a major skull surgery, another impending surgery, and the seizures that raged on with alarms going off in the middle of the night. I was falling apart at the seams with a load of what if questions and the genuine fear I felt for my son’s life. I was no longer myself. I had become an insomniac. I was spiraling into depression. I was also having what the Doctor diagnosed as panic attacks. Sometimes I was a mess, raw with all kinds of emotions that just overflowed from my very being. Sometimes I was numb, cold, and unfeeling, this person who couldn’t even pretend or allow herself to care. It was like watching a stranger act this way. I was embarrassed by this stranger and I wanted her out of my head and out of my life, but she had such a strong hold over me. broken-glass-1391033856ZOj

My husband stood next to the treadmill as I stared straight ahead, with the steady pounding of my feet to block out all of the things I didn’t want to hear. A duffle bag full of his clothes sat at his feet. The silence stretched out between us. Finally, he threw his parting words in my direction “I can’t do this with you anymore. I just can’t.” I didn’t even look up. I didn’t even flinch.  “Ok bye” I said as I continued staring straight ahead of me, running into nothingness. He slammed the door behind him and the sound of my feet started to fade away.

He was gone. It hurt. It hurt everywhere and I had to make it stop somehow. I pushed the up arrow to increase the speed on my treadmill and felt a twinge in my stomach. My entire life was unrecognizable. I was crawling in my own skin. I just wanted to run away. I pushed the up arrow a few more times, speeding up even more as my stomach churned. I was helpless. Everything felt utterly hopeless and now I was all alone. I just wanted to run away. I pushed the up arrow once again. It was too fast. Everything burned: my heart, my legs, and my stomach. I just wanted to run away. I was going to scream, I was sure of it, so I turned my head into my shoulder to muffle the sound. That’s when I threw up. I pulled the emergency stop cord and started to cry instead. Desperate, reckless, anguish poured out of me in the form of sobs. How did everything ever get so wrong?

That’s where he found me an hour later. He had come back home and I was sitting on the hard treadmill belt, puke still in my hair, and crying hysterically. I was the vision of undone. He picked me up from my treadmill and brought me to the bathroom to help clean me up as I gripped his arm. In that moment, no words were exchanged between us. Just a simple and overwhelming act of love. A love like a fairy tale. Someone that could love me when I couldn’t love myself. Someone that could take care of me when I couldn’t take care of myself. Someone in pain themselves that could see how much pain I was in and still find it in themselves to care. Someone that would stand by me.

We both made a lot of mistakes attempting to navigate this new place in our life. Honestly, I have made the majority of them. It took me much longer to figure it out, to find myself again, and to trust the ground below me was steady enough to hold. It was and still very much is a learning process. I patched myself back up together as best as I could. I sought counseling. I attempted to make peace with all of the things I couldn’t control. I found my faith once again. We became a team, united and fighting battles together instead of against one another. We came out the other side even more solid in our marriage, strengthened by the dark road we had traveled.

Maybe that’s not what people had in mind when they said happily ever after. Maybe they meant flowers, exotic trips, and eloquent sonnets professing undying love. Maybe Prince Charming never attempted to leave in frustration to his shell of a bride. Maybe that fairy tale princess never threw up all over herself. Maybe that fairy tale life doesn’t look anything like ours. Or perhaps happily ever after meant something more, like a promise. Love for better or worse: way, way worse. Someone to hold you up in the halls of a hospital when your legs go weak. Someone to rinse your gross hair out for you. Someone that loves you even when you are sure you are unlovable and undeserving of such love. Someone that refuses to give up on you over and over and over again. Someone that will love you through all seasons. A love like a fairy tale.

 


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Out of the darkness – 100 miles for Emmett

Facebook-20150707-033950On June 20th, almost 3 weeks ago, I ran 100 miles for “Emmett’s Endurance Event.” And then I went on vacation and then it was the Fourth of July and then I realized I never wrote about it. And as we all know, inside the mind of a writer (if I can be so bold as to call myself that these days) it’s almost as if it didn’t happen if I don’t recreate it with words. So if you are so inclined to read about my latest running adventure, for my son Emmett, and the deep dark ugly parts and the parts where I beamed with pride, read on.

I woke up on Friday, June 19th at 5:15. I didn’t have to be up until 6am, but I couldn’t sleep. I drug myself out of bed and started my pre run routine. When I got to the pile of clothes that I would start out this run with, I was transported. I stared at the white shirt with pink letters with a kind of disgusted fascination. I had bought it special for that day 3 years ago. And 3 years ago, when I stared at this same exact shirt that proudly proclaimed me as unstoppable, I felt like a fraud. I didn’t feel unstoppable, I felt afraid and nauseous and like running away. But that was then and this is now. As I put the shirt on, I knew I had grown into it. I truly believed what it said. And I say that not with arrogance or conceitedness or to pat myself on the back, but to remind myself. I am unstoppable. I have seen worse. I can do this. I can survive anything. I cannot be stopped. I will keep going. Somehow. Someway. I will. And with that in mind, I finished getting ready and took off running full of determination.

When attempting to run 100 miles, time ceases to exist. It’s just me and my legs fighting against my mind. As far as running goes, the first 10 hours were pretty uneventful. Friends came to keep me company and decorated my home base camp with all kinds of signs. I wandered around in the huge campground for a few hours, before deciding on a 5 mile route so as to never be too far away from my people and so I could be easily found.

Facebook-20150707-031330I ran and I ran and I ran. It got hot and I ran. Things hurt and I ran. I got really tired and I ran. I got cranky and I ran. I got discouraged and I ran. I got blisters and I ran. I wanted to stop running and I ran. I just kept going. That’s how you run 100 miles. There is no secret. You just keep going. You shut off everything else and just keep going. If my previous races had taught me anything, it was that once I started crying, I wouldn’t be able to stop. The dam would break and I would never be far from dissolving into hysterics at a moment’s notice. So I worked hard to keep myself together, to not lose it. I focused on my mind, shutting down all the cant’s and negative thoughts threatening to spill over. I held it together, willed the emotions back in until I was ready for them. I told myself things I wasn’t sure I really believed, but forced myself to adhere to them.

I hit 50 miles in a bit over 12 hours. More friends showed up and ran with me and they occupied my mind, kept the impending doom from setting in, and gave me a welcomed and happy distraction.  Round and round the 5 mile loop different people went with FB_IMG_1434829797093me. A group of friends sat around a campfire all night long, taking shifts running with me. I was never alone. These are my people. They don’t need to say it because they are there. They show it.

Highlights of the night include hysterical laughter with friends, high fives from groups of kids on golf carts, being scared of a bug zapper, and blinding everyone around me with my super-powered headlamp. Somewhere around 3 am, it took a turn for the worse. I was sitting on a fence, 80 miles under my belt, feeling sick to my stomach and fighting back the tears with every fiber of my being. Tony was standing next to me, urging me onwards and upwards. Facebook-20150707-031309But under the cloak of night, my resolve wavered and I couldn’t help but cry. It was too long. It was too far. I was too tired. It was too dark. It was going to be dark forever. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I couldn’t do it anymore. I don’t remember what exactly my husband said, nor does he as we were both sleep deprived, but it was tough love. A get up and get your butt going right now because you don’t get to stop here, kind of sentiment. Whatever it was, it pushed me to stand back up on feet that felt like they were on fire. The pain blocked out everything else. All I could feel in each step was how much it hurt. Nothing else registered, just the burning pain in my feet. A very long and very dark night ensued. A darkness so encompassing, I didn’t think I would ever see the light again. I was convinced this was it. When dawn finally broke, I felt hope. The sun rose again and it with it came my spirit. I could breathe easier in the daylight. I was not doomed to run in the darkness for the rest of my life. I had run out of the darkness, both literally and figuratively.

IMAG0010 (4)Now that it was actually June 20th, the day of Emmett’s first surgery, I allowed my mind to go back. I saw myself on that treadmill, tears streaming down my face silently, my teeth gritted in sheer effort, and a crushing despair that filled me as I waited for that blasted hospital pager to ring. Waited to hear that my baby boy had lived. Waited to hear that I could stop running. Waited to hear that everything was going to be ok. I waited and I ran, a terrified mother trying to convince herself how brave she was. I could still feel it as I ran 3 years later. Sometimes I am still that mother, trying to convince myself I am actually brave when I feel anything but. But still, as my home base came into sight, 100 miles within my grasp, I felt the brave rise up. I did not cry. I smiled and sighed with intense relief as I crossed my finish line holding Emmett’s hand. I was victorious. I really felt unstoppable. In previous races, I felt like I had merely survived 100 miles. It was a brutal assault to my body and senses. This time, I felt like I did more than just survive, I thrived. I remembered the reason I was doing this. I used it to power through what I thought I couldn’t. I finished and I smiled.  After running for 27 hours and 38 minutes, I really did run out of that darkness. Facebook-20150707-031351

We told a handful of people about Craniosynostosis in person. I told even more online. I ran to honor Emmett’s journey. And I did. I ran to remind myself I can. And I did. I ran to make a difference. And maybe I did or maybe I didn’t. But what I do know is that I have done something and that is better than nothing. And you all have made a difference to me. Every text, call, comment, and email. Everyone that shared about Emmett, helped me tell the world what Craniosynostosis is and why it matters. Everyone that has stood by me or stepped in when I needed it the most. Everyone that has cheered me on from near or far.  You are my people. You don’t need to say it. You show it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you. Facebook-20150707-031254


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“She put on a lot of weight”

I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a couple of years on the fourth of July. It was hot and humid here. My sweaty hair was stuck to my face. My brave little boy was in my big yellow double running stroller, the strap tied a bit too tightly around my arm digging in. My oldest son was running behind me with my husband. I was surrounded by an amazing group of people out there representing the church we attend, showing love for our community by passing out a few thousand popsicles in the parade. My face was flushed red from the heat and the exertion of running to keep up while pushing a nearly 100 pound load and simultaneously handing out popsicles with one hand while the other steered the stroller. I handed this person a popsicle, smiled, and offered a short, but enthusiastic, “Hey there!” As I turned away from them to continue, I heard ever so faintly “she put on a lot of weight.” I felt my face flame up with embarrassment. My pulse quickened like it would for an impending physical attack. I was stunned for about half a second before I realized there was no time to dwell on this. I had to keep moving and stay with my group even though I wanted to know so badly if there was going to be more to this conversation about me. FB_IMG_1436225638817

I sat with it for 2 days. I didn’t say a word to anyone about it, not even my husband, because I was embarrassed. Because I felt ashamed. Because most of all they were right. I mean yes, they were right. But in those short few seconds they saw me, they didn’t really see me. They chose to see just one thing. My weight. Not me. They only saw my weight.

I wanted to go back and tell them. All the things they didn’t see, that is. All the things they couldn’t even begin to understand. All the things I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. All the things I have overcome to be here today, standing in front of them happily offering them a popsicle. All the times I almost didn’t make it. All the ways I have struggled and failed and got back up again anyhow, refusing to let that be the way it ended. So yes. Yes. I have gained weight. And it would be so easy to make excuses and justifications. This is what insomnia can do to you. This is what it looks like when you watch your heart and soul – your child suffer from unimaginable pain. This is what long term, chronic stress and worry looks like. This is what someone that has been on the edge one too many times looks like. But it wouldn’t be the whole truth. The whole truth is I have done this to myself. That’s the whole and embarrassing and painful truth. I have struggled and I have done the very best I have been able to over the years and this is where I have found myself. I have tried and tried and tried. I really have. And when all else has failed, when I have prayed and ran, and wrote and read, when I have cried and screamed and still felt the world spinning out of control in front of me, I have turned to food for comfort. And just because I have put on this weight does not make me any less of a person. It does not mean I am not worthy, not interesting, or not important.

I wanted to go back and tell them more. Like how I just ran 100 miles two weeks ago, for the third time. And while some would attempt to diminish these accomplishments because I was not “fast”, I stand proud knowing the truth of the matter. It takes a level of endurance and grit I never knew I had to run for a day and a half straight. It takes a hardened will, a determination to go forth despite the burning pain, the deep ache that settles in all of your bones, the beaten down body, and the discouraged mind. It takes dedication and passion. It’s all about heart. It’s a feat of strength, not just physically but mentally. And just because I have put on this weight does not mean I am weak, out of shape, or unhealthy.

I wanted to tell them all of this and more. I wanted to make them see how much more I am than someone who has put on weight. But the more I thought about it, the more ridiculous it seemed. Why does it matter? Why do I care what these people think of me? Why do I look at myself in the mirror more critically after a mindless comment someone made by the side of the road? Why do we let people do this to us? Who is anyone to judge you or me that way? Why do we dismiss a compliment so easily but let an insult stick to our ribs?

So I came to a realization and that is I need to be a better friend, to myself. The next time I look at myself in the mirror before I leave, I will not throw in a biting comment about how I look. The next time I am discouraged that I cannot zip up my favorite pair of jeans, I will not berate myself. The next time I hear a less than flattering comment about myself,  I will not let it take root in me. I will not give it the satisfaction. I will dismiss it the way it should be. I will love myself more. I will look at myself the way a friend would. If I would not say it a friend, I will not say it to myself. As we all should. I will cut myself some slack and acknowledge that I really have done the best that I could. I will believe my own words. I will know that I have not failed anyone and that I am not a failure myself.

I will honestly and truly treat myself like a friend would. That’s what I want for you too. I want you to see yourself for how amazing you are. I want you to see that it does not matter if you are a few pounds heavier than you want to be. It does not make you any less beautiful. What makes you beautiful is you. Who you are. Not some arbitrary number. Not the way your critics may see you, but the way the ones that love you see you. What an amazing thing that would be FB_IMG_1430562952849– to finally see ourselves the way our loved ones do. The way we should be seen. That is the hope. That is the goal.


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Why on earth are you running 100 miles?

Here’s the thing – I never wanted to do anything like this, originally. I never planned on being the voice behind a cause. I had no drive or desire for anyone to ever think or say I was inspirational. In fact, despite the noble words that people have used for me, I have not ever felt inspirational in my life and I’m completely ok with that. I never needed my name to be known in local circles either. The only thing I wanted was for my son, Emmett, to be ok. I wanted to protect him more than anything in this entire world and I couldn’t. And so the only way I could survive that was to run. It was the only way I could be ok. That’s what started all of this.

Let’s rewind to 3 years ago: June 20, 2012. I was on the 10th floor of the children’s hospital running on a treadmill while a team of surgeons cut apart my 15 month old baby’s entire skull a few floors below me. My son Emmett was born with a birth defect of the skull called Craniosynostosis. Craniosynostosis causes the sutures in the skull to close prematurely so that the skull can not grow as it should, thus inhibiting brain growth. I vowed to run the entire time he was in surgery, no matter how long it took. I would not stop. I would not rest. I would not do anything but run until I knew he was going to be ok. I ran for exactly 7 hours and 26 minutes that day, calling it “Emmett’s Endurance Event” and raising awareness of Craniosynostosis in the process. It lit a fire under me. I had to do it again and so I ran for the 7 hours and 26 minutes on the anniversary of June 20th for the last two years. This year, I wanted to do something different. 945865_418390074926464_583492023_n

Emmett had gone undiagnosed for the first 14 months of his life. At birth, his pediatrician had told us he was just fine when we questioned his head shape. In the coming months, we would ask our Doctor about it as well and be reassured more than once that it was completely normal and nothing to worry about. After his first birthday, Emmett began having seizures. Two different times, at two different hospitals, the emergency room discharged us telling us that there was nothing wrong with our son after the seizures. We fell through the cracks unnoticed and so I took matters into my own hands. I knew something was wrong, call it mother’s intuition or God or a gut feeling. I knew. I turned obsessively to Google for answers, searching for hours and hours, multiple days in a row, going without working, eating, and barely sleeping. After many days of this manic behavior, I diagnosed my son myself. Because of the late diagnosis and severity of Emmett’s case, things didn’t go as planned after the first surgery. Emmett has other medical issues and there’s no way to know what could have been prevented if the Craniosynostosis was corrected sooner.

There wasn’t just one surgery. There have been five surgeries so far, three related to the Craniosynostosis. Multiple times, surgeons have sliced my child’s head open ear to ear. They have peeled his entire face back all the way down to his cheekbones more than once. They have completely cut apart the bones in his skull. They have put in numerous plates and surgical screws. They have filled in holes of missing skull and patched it back up. They have cut off excess bone that was healing incorrectly and growing in the wrong direction. They have drained pockets of fluid of and blood that wasn’t supposed to be there and looked for infection. I have seen my child’s eyes swell completely shut for 8 straight days after surgery. I have soaked up pools of blood at the base of my child’s head more times than I can count. I have watched as my child became traumatized: kicking, screaming, and crying, eyes wide with fear as the nurses approach him. I have pinned him down myself to help. I’ve spent hours trying to force him to swallow all of his medications. I’ve sent him off for tests and scans over and over. I’ve seen him unconscious and seizing on the floor in front of me. I’ve seen him cry tears of blood after surgery. I’ve rocked him in my arms crying right along with him, my heart broken and my shirt stained red. I’ve begged for relief. I’ve offered up myself to God as a sacrifice if only he would heal my son. I’ve fallen apart. I’ve shattered into a thousand pieces. But I’ve stood back up and faced it. I’ve refused to sink. And still the only way I could survive that was to run. Emmett hospital

That is why I will run for 100 miles starting on June 19 and finishing on June 20, 2015. It’s 100 miles for Emmett, to pay homage to all of his pain and suffering over the last 3 years. It’s 100 miles for myself, to acknowledge that I have survived and done the best I could. It’s 100 miles for all the families that have been affected by Craniosynostosis, to show them they are not alone. It’s 100 miles to raise awareness of Craniosynostosis, to tell the rest of the world what this is so that they can recognize it and maybe help another family some day.

Symptoms of Craniosynostosis in an infant include an unusual shaped head, a hard, raised ridge along the affected suture, and a soft spot that closed too early. If this could be your child or a child of someone you know, I encourage you to speak to your Doctor. Craniosynostosis inhibits brain growth and can cause intracranial pressure, seizures, eye problems, developmental delays, and more if left uncorrected.


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The day that everything changed

June 20th. For years, it was just a simple day; my mother in law’s birthday actually. 3 years ago, it became something else entirely just like I had. It became Emmett’s Endurance Event. It became the day that I stared fear in its cold, dark, unforgiving face. It became the day that I got my first glimpse of the amazing community that we are surrounded by – where love and support flooded in so greatly that we were left floating in it. It became the day that I learned I was capable of so much more than I ever gave myself credit for. It became the day that I discovered a passion for ultra-running that would continue to change my life in so many ways. It became the day that we survived, together.
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I ran for exactly 7 hours and 26 minutes on a treadmill in the children’s hospital on that incredibly long June day. I ran while they broke apart not just the skull of my sweet baby boy Emmett but while they broke apart my entire heart and soul. I would never be the same again; I just wouldn’t. I didn’t know then that there would be more surgeries. I didn’t understand then that the struggle would continue long after that day and that fear had only shown its face that day. I didn’t realize I’d soon meet fear in person when they scanned Emmett’s brain. I had no idea the road we were about to go down.

For the past two years, I have continued my tradition of running for 7 hours and 26 minutes on the anniversary of that day. But this year, I’m not going to do that. Because at the end of last year, Emmett had two additional skull surgeries that cut my heart open
once again. So I’m not going to run for just the 7 hours and 26 minutes. Instead, I’m going to pay homage to all of it: the hours he’s collected from 5 surgeries so far, the hours spent in the hospital, in Doctor’s offices, and in emergency rooms. The tears of pain and frustration, being poked and prodded at, sleepless nights, undergoing tests, scans, therapies, blood work, and having medication after medication jammed down his throat. I’m going to take it all and use it to run for 100 miles on June 20th.

IMG_2174-2When I think back to the last 3 years, I can tell you it feels a lot like an ultra marathon, like 100 miles of absolutely terrible, overwhelming struggle and triumph. There were times when I felt so alone, completely and utterly alone. Like it was 3 am and I was lacing up my shoes, about to do something that most people can’t even fathom. I stuffed every emotion and pain down as deep as I could, unwilling and unable to find the words to ask for help as I ran through the night on a path that I wasn’t sure would ever end. At times, I was surrounded, completely and utterly surrounded. When I was sure I couldn’t go on, people were pressing in from all sides. Their shoulders pushed up against mine, pulling me forward with them as I shuffled my feet in a daze.

There were times when I was screaming in agony and crying desperate tears that wouldn’t stop. There was misery and unbelievable suffering at points. There was doubt and fear that I was not who people thought I was and that I was not really strong enough to make it. There was the sweet allure of just giving up and questioning why I would ever do this to myself. There were tears of joy from doing what I once thought I couldn’t. There was pride that overflowed from my very being from surviving and digging deep. There was hope that I would get there, somehow, someway, I would do it and we would all be ok. There was love; love beyond words. Love in the face of a man that has seen you at your very worst and loves you anyhow. Love from friends that will show up all hours of the night, whenever you need them and do whatever you need them to. Love from family that will always come through no matter what else is going on.

There was all of it, mashed together into one heartbreaking beautiful cacophony of mess. That’s what watching your child struggle with his health feels like. That’s what running 100 miles feels like. It’s all of those things and more. It’s raw and real. It’s awful and full of hope. It’s pain tinted with joy. It’s who I am and what I do.  Motivational-inspirational-meme

So on June 20th, I will run for 100 miles for Emmett, for me, for our family, and for everyone who has ever been in our shoes. I will continue to tell the world about Craniosynostosis, a birth defect of the skull that inhibits brain growth. I will bang that drum loud and clear in the hopes that more awareness will keep another baby from going undiagnosed as long as Emmett had. It all started with Craniosynostosis, but it’s about the rest of it – the brain lesion and epilepsy too. I do this not to continue to hang onto the darkest moments of our lives, but rather to bring light into them and in the hopes that it might make a small difference to someone else. Because that’s what this 100 miles is really all about. Hope.


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Colored in pink and full of broken hearts

Mother’s Day – colored in pink and full of glittered hearts. A day to honor your mother, yourself as a mother, or those other important women in your life. Kids eagerly holding out handfuls of dandelions and handmade cards. Your mother on the phone telling you how proud she is of you while you both laugh over a shared memory. A loving husband that makes you breakfast in bed and lets you sleep in.

But what about the other women?

The woman that has buried her only child, with not much more to show than a grave to shed tears over, afraid that the world will forget what she never will.

The woman struggling with terrible depression, forcing herself out of bed day after day for her kids and plastering on a fake smile.

The woman whose spouse has died, whose children are in deep in the trenches of grief alongside of her.

The newly divorced woman, scared and alone, hoping and praying she’s done what is best for her and her children.

The woman whose child is hospitalized, sick or dying, who is in such raw pain it hurts to breathe at times.

The woman who comes from an abusive home, who hasn’t spoken to her mother in years, who won’t be sending a card or calling home.

The woman that would give anything to be a mother, that has tried and tried and is afraid there is something wrong with her.

The woman that has just experienced a miscarriage, feeling betrayed by her body with hormones running rampant.

The woman who is suffering in her marriage lonely and heartbroken, who lies to the world while she feels like she is fading into nothingness.

The woman whose mother is no longer on this earth, her very best friend in the world and the one she would give anything to talk to for just a moment.

The woman whose child has died, who will forever be deeply missing part of herself and part of her family.

The woman whose mother neglected, hurt, and abandoned her in a thousand different ways, who is now secretly afraid she’s broken and unlovable.

The woman that is all alone, whose children are estranged from her.

The woman that is sick, fighting for her life, afraid of what will happen to her kids if she doesn’t make it.

The woman battling addiction, dealing with ongoing abuse, constantly fighting with her children, and more.

Mother’s Day – colored in pink and full of broken hearts. It’s not as joyful and carefree as we’d like to believe. It’s not at all what it’s made out to be in those heartwarming ads. There are so many women that don’t feel like they fit into the mold for this day. There are so many women that are hurting on this day and subsequently by this day.

So I want to ask you, or implore you, to reach out to one of these women. These mothers with the broken hearts. We all know at least one. They are you. They are me. They are our neighbors, friends, family, and acquaintances. They are hurting. They are scared. They feel alone. They don’t know how they are going to make it through another day. They are doubting themselves. They are fighting their way through this day and through this life.  Einstein-Quotes-5-610x610

What can you do? You don’t need eloquent words or long, thought provoking speeches. You don’t need anything more than a sincere acknowledgment and recognition of how hard a day like this may be for them. A reminder that even when they feel alone, they are not alone. Just a few words of encouragement to keep going. A way to show them they are not forgotten. A simple act of love. That is how you honor these hurting mothers.


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The brutal amazement that is 100 miles

2015-02-20 13.57.54-4If I had to find just one sentence to describe the process of running for nearly 24 hours, it would be this: the sum of all things. It was all of my emotions, fears, and failures. It was all of my progress, triumphs, and the whole of my life. There was that ugly voice in the back of my mind so sure I would fail and should just quit and be done with it. That voice told me over and over, that there was no way I would ever be able to do this because it’s just too fast for way too long. There was a quieter but more powerful voice too. A voice that was so sure I could do this, that I could do absolutely anything if I really wanted it badly enough. That voice reminded me over and over that I’m a fighter, not a quitter because I’ve already done more in my life than I ever felt capable of.

Round and round the 200M track I went. That’s 8 laps to a mile. Which means 800 laps total to hit 100 miles. Every 1 minute and 30 seconds, I passed my temporary home: my husband, my lawn chair, and my storage tote of running gear. And it got harder and harder to pass up all the comforts of home just waiting for me each and every time. There were a few times, I cried as I passed my lawn chair it was so devastating.

2015-02-21 08.16.09-6What saved me was “my people.” One person I can always count on no matter what, is my husband Tony. Propped up in a corner, tallying up my laps one after another, running with me here and there, and waiting on me hand and foot: he is the ultimate crew person. But even so, there were a few hours when I was really floundering alone. I slowed down, I struggled, I got discouraged, and I started to sink on my own in the middle of the night. But then God sent help, in the form of my friends and family. A group of friends showed up Friday night when I was already starting to hit a rough patch. A group of non-running friends that is. And they proceeded to not only run but run FAST with me. A few hours after they left, someone else showed up. They came at 1am to get me through the long, dark hours of the night. A group came at 5am decked out in feather boas, princess crowns, and sunglasses carrying inspirational signs. A couple of awesome coach friends showed up and gave me a massage, and helped me fix my terrible running form that I had descended into. A complete and utter Godsend came sometime early Saturday morning. She made it her personal mission to see me to the finish. Made me eat when I felt too sick to eat, filled up my water bottle probably 50 times, fixed my shoes over and over, stood outside the bathroom stall waiting for me like a loving mother would with her child, just in case, watched me like a hawk commanding “eyes open” every time they threatened to close, and kept an eye on our pace, always pushing me to make sure I really was going to make it. When Saturday morning rolled around, my cheering section tripled. The same friends that had shown up late the night before, the same ones that must be exhausted and tired and sore, there they were again.

The final hour took every last bit of will power I had. All I knew is I was “close” to 100 miles but I didn’t know how close. Shortly after hitting 50 miles, I decided I didn’t want to know anymore. It was tormenting me to know how much farther I had to go, so everyone started keeping it a secret.2015-02-22 14.39.53 I was really struggling near the end when I saw some women on the track walking towards me. I couldn’t understand why until they got closer, and I saw 4 of my friends in matching Team Kathy shirts. The back proudly proclaimed it was a division of Team Emmett. Hysterical sobbing ensued as they hugged me until I was making that loud, embarrassing noise from trying to breathe. There were so many times I had felt alone in my life before. So many times where it seemed like I had no one. And this was just the opposite of that, times 100. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt more loved. I was sure my heart was going to burst. It was simply amazing. It was complete when my mother and father in law showed up with our boys and all I could manage was to smile at them through my heavy tears. 2015-02-22 14.40.10

Finally, after being told how close I was and getting angry, whiny, desperate, hysterical, crying, and stopping in defeat for a few seconds, my husband Tony told me I was on my last lap. A friend was singing “our song.” I was surrounded on all sides by even more friends that escorted me one last time around that track. They were cheering, yelling, and clapping. Emmett ran just ahead of me as I rounded the very last corner and threw my head back in instant relief at being able to stop running. And I did it. 100 miles in 23 hours and 50 minutes. Under 24 hours, with only a few minutes to spare.

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When I think back to the Hallucination 100 I did last year and how much I cried, I think I may have cried almost as much this time. But this time most of those tears were of gratitude, appreciation, amazement, and pure love. There were some desperate tears in there too, but they were few and far in between comparatively. All of these wonderful people that showed up to support me– they are the ones that pushed me to run faster. They are the ones that kept me going even when I was feeling miserable and wanted to stop. Their mere presence made me both laugh and cry and renewed my fragile spirit. I owe the bulk of my miles to them, and them alone.

I just LOVE this message (and everything else out there) from Fellow Flowers. It’s something I have been privileged enough to live out.

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