Ran the Going the Distance for Gabby 5K yesterday, and I definitely wanted to talk about it. First, let me explain why this particular 5k was so important for me to run … sometime over the summer, my next-door neighbor started posting on Facebook about this little girl named Gabby and her facebook page. I hopped over to the page to check it out and was eventually led to the Get Well Gabby website. I’m going to get this story a little bit wrong because the jerks that manage the network at my work blocked the website. Sometime in May, a sweet little perfectly healthy 5 year old girl was taken to CHOP because of balance and vision issues. In June, they found out that Gabby had DIPG, or cancer in the brain stem. Despite treatment, chemo, and thousands upon thousands of prayers, Gabby lost her battle with the disease on 9/11 of this year. She wasn’t even 6 years old yet.
Being a mother, this struck me particularly hard. I have known plenty of people who have lost children before birth – some miscarried within that first 12 week window, others lost them well into the pregnancy for a varied number of reasons, and I can’t imagine how hard it must be in any of those cases, but this particular one struck me hard, because I’ve already got Liam. To think that I could have just another 3 years left with him is devastating. You have a child, and you plan for them to outlive you. You plan for them to have wonderful, perfectly fulfilled lives, and then POOF! Tragedy strikes and that kid doesn’t even get to see grade school. I get weepy whenever I think about it.
I look at Liam differently now – I feel horribly guilty that I have to work. Every time he tells me that he missed me while I was away, I feel terrible thinking about how I spent precious time away from him. Still, I don’t want to be a helicopter parent, following him around constantly, never letting him grow into the person he wants to be. So, I know I’ve got to draw the line somewhere, but thinking about how every moment is precious and thinking about how I could lose him at any moment has been a real eye-opener. I can’t imagine my life without him. Ever.
So, in honor of a little girl who was taken from this earth much too soon, I ran. In remembrance of a little angel who reminded me that every second I have with my son is a gift, I ran. To help a devastated family even just a little bit with the mounting costs of hospital bills and burial costs, I ran. I honestly didn’t care one lick where the money went – I just ran and ran and ran to celebrate such a perfect little person.
Now that I’m sobbing, let me get to the race. It was a C-O-L-D October morning (albeit not as cold as it could have been). I arrived at the National Christian Conference Center a little after 8am. Being not so much an orthodox Christian, I had never been to the center, and I found it to be rather lovely and HUGE! Apparently, they had only held one 5k prior to this, and they’re actually trying to get more involved with it – they have lovely grounds for it. It was a trail run, which I’ll point out that I’m not a huge fan of (I don’t like mud, bugs, that sort of thing, so you can see where I’d have an issue with trails), but I’d have run this race no matter where it was. My next-door neighbor organized the thing, and she did a great job. According to the race results, there were about 240 people who participated, which is wonderful – that was one loved little girl. Some fabulous people took to the course the night before and covered all of the really muddy spots so that we didn’t have to wade through muck, which I totally appreciated.
When the race kicked off, I hadn’t turned on my iPhone yet for my running program, so I just started running. I ran with the crowd until I couldn’t any longer, and then I kicked off C25K, W3R2 and followed the program for the middle of the race: 5 minute warm-up walk, 1:30 run/1:30 walk, 3:00 run/3:00 walk, rinse, repeat, 5:00 cool-down walk. That didn’t quite get me to the end of the race, so I did my own sort of combination of running and walking afterwards, and managed to eek out a 13:22/mile time. Not bad!
The race really taught me a thing or two about my FiveFingers. A few people have said to me, “Aren’t you afraid of stepping on a sharp rock or something?” Turns out, the answer is no. Along the trail, I hit what I would say is every last bit of terrain that I’ll ever enounter – mud, dirt, grass, pavement, pond stones, gravel, hay, etc. The ONLY problem I had with the shoes was that the occasional leaf would get stuck in between the toes – and honestly that’s less a problem and more a desire not to look stupid. It was really cool to feel my foot muscles adjust against the terrain that I was running. And as much as I hate the wilderness (if you think about it, remind me to tell you about my first … and incidentally, my last … camping trip), I can see why people trail run in these things. Your foot is such an amazing piece of equipment – I could feel each muscle work as I traipsed over the rocky paths. I felt my foot adjust to avoid slipping in the light mud. It was so cool! It really made me even more excited to continue running in them.
I still have a bit of training to go – my calves were a hair sore when I finished (giant hill, I blame YOU), but all in all it was a decent race, and I’m just so very glad that I could do something – no matter how small it might have been in the grand scheme of things – to honor such a wonderful little girl.
Gabby, I never met you, but you’ve affected my life in a way that I don’t think anyone else could have. Rest in peace, little child, and know that there are a lot of people looking after your family and helping them through this difficult time. I know you’re looking down with a gorgeous pair of wings right now. I hope we did you proud.