Running for a Woman Who Couldn’t: My Proudest Running Moment

It was April 3, 2016 - two years, one month, and one day before the day Kelly died from an 8 year battle with breast cancer.

I was running a 15k after having ran my first half marathon two months before and I had been running for almost a year. I was never athletic and the queen of hating exercise but my best friend, Taylor, had gotten me into running in the summer of 2015. She taught me everything about it because I was afraid of dying like my father (he had died 11 years before I started running from a heart attack).

Kelly was Taylor’s mother-in-law and she had been battling breast cancer for years. Kelly loved to run and would wake up before the sun every day to run, clean her house, care for her family, and sit on her porch. But by April 3, 2016, Kelly’s cancer had taken running away from her, but her spirit was as generous and beautiful as ever.

Taylor and I signed up for the 15k and it happened to be next to the marina where Kelly and her husband kept their boat (a boat Kelly loved to go stay on and spend time with her loved ones). Taylor told Kelly about our race and Kelly, of course, made a day of it to support us. She made a sign to cheer us on and stayed at the finish line with Taylor’s and my husbands (then boyfriends), another friend of mine, and Taylor’s amazingly supportive parents (who waited on the course for us and cheered like champs).

Taylor was faster than me and I saw her after the turn around point and we cheered each other, but of course, she finished before me by about 15 minutes and won first in our age group. I was loving the run along the river early in the morning, but about 6 miles in, I wanted to walk (as I always had in previous runs).

I had 5k to go and I almost walked, but then I thought about Kelly. Kelly couldn’t run any more even though she wanted to. Kelly was fighting cancer and couldn’t stop for a walk break in her battle. I told myself to keep running because she couldn’t and I wanted to run for her.

So I finished the 15k with pride I had never had before, and I finished my first race without walking. I won second in my age group and Kelly had that bright neon sign waving as I crossed the finish line in total triumph. We went back to her boat for food and company, and Kelly told Taylor and I how proud of us she was.

It’s been a little over a year since Kelly passed away, and I’m running my third marathon in October and I think of her on every run.

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