I’m a great believer in saying the words “Thank You”. With the American holiday of Thanksgiving just around the corner, I feel I have more than the average person to be thankful for. Getting through this journey we call life takes the support and help of everyone around you, most of the time you don’t get a chance to say thank you as the moment comes and goes too quickly to be acknowledged with words. However, when the opportunity to say thank you does present itself, I go for it whole heartedly – thus today’s entry, a colossal thank you to everyone who supported, encouraged, inspired and trained with me during my endeavor to run the New York City Marathon November 7, 2010.
The first HUGE thank you has to go to my husband and my family! Back in February 2010, when the idea to run the NYC Marathon first cameto me, the first person I needed to get a reality check from was my husband. I asked him, “Do you think I can do this?” His answer was a resounding, “YES, yes you can!” From that moment onward, his support never waivered. Just weeks before the marathon I had to ask him again, “Do you really, really think I can do this?” and again, I received the same reassurance, “Yes you can!” Likewise, my two young sons never doubted for a moment their mother could run a marathon. They were both young when I was ill and I think, luckily, they don’t remember how ill I was. To them it was a phase, now I’m well and I run – pretty simple looking through the eyes of a child, which I sometimes needed to do during this time. Hoorah for them!
Next, I have to thank my sisters Annette and Tricia. They got on the bandwagon as soon as I told them about it. They supported me all throughout the summer and promised to travel to NYC to cheer me on. I couldn’t have asked for better cheerleaders!!! In fact, I saw them at mile 8 of the marathon route. It was like having rocket boosters given to me for the rest of the run. The lift I received from seeing them sustained me throughout the rest of the run. Pretty awesome support!
It took a while to win my mother over, but eventually she got behind the effort as did the rest of my family. The night before the run I received a call from my brother who gave me a tremendous pep-talk and boy did I replay his conversation with me from mile 11 onward! The rest of my large family also encouraged me every step of the way sending messages of support and following me during the run via the NYC mobile app. Thank you all so much!!
My Lymebuddies and the Online Lyme Community
If there was one person who got me back on my feet post Lyme it was Amie Levasseur, co founder of Lymebuddies and my life saver! I don’t know how many nights during the struggle with Lyme that Amie was there for me over the telephone convincing me that somehow we’d both get better (she too has Lyme Disease and was also very ill during the time I was). There is so much I could say about Amie that I’d have to write a whole blog just to cover some of it and still it wouldn’t cover it all. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll say a huge thank you for being there, for your kindness, generosity, courage & bravery, friendship, support and just all round for the gift of you (and your wonderful sister Laurie as well as you family!!)! Of course, I also am fortunate enough to have met several other Lyme advocates along the way. Jessica Plantanitis worked tiredlessly on fund raising events and media coverage whilst being the driving force behind Lyme Disease Awareness. Cris Johnson, aka Lymesexy was and continues to be one of my biggest advocates and supporters. He campaigned on my behalf to raise funds for and awareness about Lyme Disease using social media venues such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as attending several fundraising events armed with a donation bucket and a great speech! Then there are all of my Twitter and Facebook followers and friends. Without your daily messages of support this all would have been completely meaningless. You were my inspiration and my turn-to people when the going got tough (think walking pneumonia and tendonitis around mile 18 of my training program). Thank you also to MaineLyme for their ongoing support via Facebook and the many activities they have participated in and continue to organize to raise awareness about Lyme Disease.
I would not have been able to get into the NYC Marathon had it not been for the help of my dear friend Teresa. A New Yorker by birth, we met in London over 20 years ago. It was as apparent then as it remains today, Teresa has a love of helping others achieve their dreams and goals. She took on the task of arranging all the travel plans to the city including volunterring her nephew to put us up in his spacious house (thanks to Georgie and Lisa for that too), as well as making sure I got to where I needed to be at all times. Thank you so much!! She also put on a Halloween fundraising event at her restaurant, The Seafood Center of Maine. If you have access to Facebook, check out these photos of the event http://www.facebook.com/home.php?- !/album.php?aid=260757&id=583159126&fbid=466363469126
I could not have run this at all without the help of my great friend Martha who eagerly signed up to run the marathon with me. She had just completed her first marathon, the Dublin Marathon, and was so enthusiastic to run NYC. She gave me the necessary bravery needed to run. Just knowing I’d have her there by my side on marathon day meant the world to me and honestly, I would not have gotten to the start of the marathon without her.
Likewise, our friends Joanna and Heather also got on board with becoming our support team. They assigned themselves the role of “beer wenches”, but of course, they were so much more. Having them in NYC with us, cheering us on and rooting for us was more than we could have wished for and is a true testament to long-term friendships!!! (We’ve known each other for over 30 years and recently reconnected.)
Then there were the friends who ran with me. Apart from one runner, no one who ran with me was training for a marathon. The dedication needed to run a marathon is one thing; eighteen weeks of waking up early to run, trying to avoid the heat in the summer and the cold and dark as autumn approaches, the naps needed after a long run! Who’d put themselves through that if they weren’t training for a marathon? Well, in my case Lisa, Tom, Chris, Brett, Joe, Kyle, all of whom ran lunchtimes with me in weather that ranged from 39F – 100F+.
And then there’s Karen and Lara who put themselves through even more on my behalf! You see, Karen had trained for and completed a marathon almost 20 years prior to my attempt and felt it just would not be right for me to run any of my long runs alone. Though she was not training for the NYC Marathon, she was right there beside me for all my long runs. Starting with my 8 mile run and going up to my 20 miler, she’d wake up on Saturdays at 5am to arrive at my house for either our 5:30am starts or 6am starts. She roped in Lara for our 15 mile run and Lara stuck with us right up through the 20 mile run and subsequent “I shouldn’t have eaten chocolate torte the night before my 12 mile run” adventure. (I won’t share the story here, but there is a story, of course!). I just cannot thank you all enough and honestly don’t think I could have done it without you all! There just aren’t words to describe my honest, sincere and heartfelt gratitude and if I can pay this forward to any of you, I’ve got your backs!
Who had the best illustrations? I did, and I owe that all to Katie Wall of www.wallop.com, a freelance artist, mother of three and fantastic mate, she dropped everything in her busy schedule to create a tick illustration for me in just three days so that I could use it at the start of May, Lyme Disease Awareness month. The Lymerunner brand owes it all to you!! Thank you so much.
New Friends – Marathon Training Academy
Of course running with marathon veterans is a great way to prepare for a marathon! But as a newbie, marathoner-in-training runner, I was loaded with questions that seemed to pop up hourly! Thirsting for knowledge about all things marathon lead me to the doorstep of the Marathon Training Academy, the online running community started by Angie and Trevor Spenser. Through their amazing series of podcasts, I learned so much about marathon running and training, and had the personal assistance, encouragement and support of Angie via email correspondence and Facebook entries. For ANYONE thinking of running a marathon and for those who have run one, I strongly recommend this website and podcasts to you! The wealth of knowledge I gained was immense, but I also came away with two new running buddies and for that I am also immensely grateful.
I also would like to thank Sharon Rose of WCSH6 for the in-depth reporting on Lyme Disease and the controversy surrounding diagnosis and treatment of the disease. This four-part series really opened up the debate about the disease and brought conversation into the mainstream. She also helped Lymebuddies connect with many people who have the disease, bringing them help and support as they battle through the disease. It took courage for Sharon to tackle this subject and I can’t thank her enough for that!
I would also like to that Emma Bouthillette of the Portland Press Herald, Liz Gotthelf of the Biddeford Saco Journal Tribune, Gillian Graham of the Biddeford, Saco, OOB Courier, each covering my story and others with Lyme Disease in their respected papers, and Erin Ovalle Good Day Maine, for doing a live interview about Lyme Disease.
Special thanks goes out to every individual who contributed financially to Lymerunner/ Lymebuddies via the chipin widget on my website. Your contributions will go toward helping those with Lyme Disease who might not otherwise receive help so I cannot thank you enough! I would also like to thank Deanna for her personal sponsorship that made the whole trip possible.
The Seafood Center of Maine had one of the funnest fundraisers ever! Halloween would not be the same now without you! Brooks Running supplied all the clothing I wore for my marathon run. These local businesses also contributed to the effort: Diversified Business Communications, Biddeford Saco Savings Bank, Jimmy the Greeks and The Run of the Mill. Thank you all so much.
Thank you to everyone who attended the 4th Annual Spotlight on Lyme Disease walk and all the fund raising events held in my honour!!! I can’t say how touched and moved I am by your generosity and support.
Life throws you many curve balls, but it’s how we hit back that determines where we’ll run to. Thank you all for helping me run to NYC and back.
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