Strava Marathon (Bellingham, MA)
Finish Time: 3:35
Temp: 36 degrees
Run For: Shannon
Associated Virtual Marathon: Running Is Still Not Cancelled (Virtual Event)
I ran this latest marathon for my friend Shannon. This one meant a lot to me for many different reasons. This was marathon number fifty in the 26.2 For You – Race to 50 journey, more to comes on this later. Being able to run a marathon for someone who is battling IBD means so much to me and sharing their story actually even more important than any single mile I may run. Bringing awareness to these diseases is important so sharing these inspiring stories from these amazing people is vital in raising that awareness. Being able to run today for Shannon was something I was happy to do because Shannon did something very similar when I first met her. I was basically just returning the favor.
In 2018 Shannon and I were on the Team Challenge Chicago Marathon team together and this is where I first met her. 26.2 For You had started earlier that year and she had been so supportive and encouraging from day one of this journey. As we got closer to race day one of our teammates, and a friend of mine, Cara (see marathon 25) was unable to run the Chicago Marathon because of an untimely flare which resulted in her colon being removed. This would have been her first marathon but obviously after this surgery she wasn’t going to be able to join us. I know Cara from being on our local New England team and having been her coach from the previous year, but Shannon had never met her. Shannon reached out and asked me if I thought it would be ok if she could run Chicago for Cara and have her name put on her shirt so that Cara could still be there with us even if it wasn’t in person. I knew Cara would love that and was able to connect the two of them so that this could happen.
You’ve heard me talk a lot about the Team Challenge family and how awesome it is. This right here is a perfect example of what the TC family is all about. Shannon really didn’t know Cara, but still she wanted to do something like this for someone who was more or less a stranger. Now, Shannon and Cara are friends and when I see them comment and interact on social media it warms my heart. This TC family that exists is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before. The outpouring of support and compassion that continually comes from these people is something that is hard to describe when you see it, and you see it happen over and over again. With Shannon, for that gesture alone what she did for Cara, she is one of my IBD heroes! Then, her own personal story with IBD takes the hero part to a whole other level.
I’m impressed by everyone I meet through Team Challenge and Shannon is right up there with who I admire the most. With the amount of struggle she has gone through and even still deals with to this day, she still has so much compassion for others. Whenever I think of her I can’t help but think about what she did for Cara and how special a simple gesture like that was. So to be able to run for Shannon today and cap off the 50th marathon in this journey with her story truly means a lot to me. Shannon you are a true IBD hero!
As for the running itself, it went about as good as it could have gone. The weather cooperated, for late December in New England, and was right around 35 degrees. All the snow from the storm we had earlier in the week was pretty much gone, so that meant clear open roads perfect for running. I decided to split this marathon into two parts, with the first half being run outside before shifting gears, moving inside to finish up on the treadmill. This was my eighth marathon in eight weeks and my legs were feeling tired and slightly heavy to start, but muscle memory is a real thing and once I got running everything just felt normal and felt right.
Shannon mentions in her story, a few times, how much she loves running and I’m right there with her. Even when feeling tired and sluggish, once I got out that door and started moving, it always just feels great. Then when you put an IBD hero behind the reason to get out there and run; it doesn’t get much better than that.
One of the great things about this marathon was even though I was running here, near my house, alone, I wasn’t alone at all. As I mentioned, I ran 13.1 outside followed by another 13.1 inside, two half marathons back to back. I wasn’t alone because Shannon joined virtually from Texas because running 13.1 miles today as well. She ran her own half marathon to join me where she dedicated each mile to someone who was monumental in her fight against IBD. Her run went really well and was filled with a lot of emotions.
I was so happy to have had the company from afar as I ran for her and virtually with her. Running can be hard and getting out the door sometimes can be challenging. When you put meaning like this behind that run and you slip on the orange singlet with the words “Team Challenge” displayed across your chest, I swear it gets a little easier. There is nothing like running for Team Challenge, even during times like we’ve had this past year where there are not a lot of races happening. I felt connected today and used that energy to run and finish strong.
Running 50 marathons for 50 IBD heroes couldn’t have gone better and I feel great physically and mentally. I know I couldn’t have made it this far without the support from so many, too many to thank, but all so important. Thank you to everyone for the love, support, encouragement and cheering along the way. I also need to give a very special thank you to the 50 IBD heroes who graciously allowed me to share their stories. Running for all of you was such an honor and I couldn’t be more thankful to each and every one of you.
Thank you Shannon for all you do for our TC family. Thank you for allowing me to run for you and with you today. I was honored to share your story and run this 26.2 for you.