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Women Rock MN

on August 31, 2012

As I’ve been getting ready for the Women Rock MN race this Saturday, lots of things are going through my mind.  Even though this will be my 4th half marathon, I am very nervous.  I’m nervous about how my hip will hold up during the race.  As I’ve said before, I don’t care about my finish time.  I simply want to be part of the event, FINISH, and have my hip hold up well.

Another thing that is going through my mind is the “Beneficiary” of the Women Rock MN event.  Many people who register and run in races rarely take the time to find out where the money goes or to whom it benefits.  Team Ortho, the event organization, first of all has a mission to help make better the lives of orthopedic patients.  They also are concerned and promote education and support research for good muscular, joint, and skeletal health as well as encourage healthy lifestyles.  Who couldn’t love that mission?!  As I said in previous blogs, I have been in several Team Ortho events and love them.  They are so well organized and very fun!  It helps that my cousins have volunteered for Team Ortho for many, many years, as well as cousins who work for Team Ortho.  I have some family members that struggle with arthritis, juvenile arthritis AND…in the recent months I now have seen my own orthopedic doctor for my own issues including mild hip arthritis, it becomes an even more personal cause.

The Women Rock MN race will benefit and support osteoporosis research and will donate money to the Excelen Center for Bone and Joint Research and Education research project on osteoporosis health.  What a great cause!

Completely separate from that, there are two people I’m thinking about for this race.  First of all, my cousin Colleen Corkery.  I was in 6th grade when she passed away.  I remember that my mom came into my room one August morning and told me that Colleen had been in a car accident and did not survive.  She was 20 years old.   The things I remember about Colleen…she was so pretty.  She had dark brown hair and these beautiful eyes.  Her smile lit up a room and her eyes just sparkled.  I remember one time when my cousins came to visit.  I am the youngest of all the cousins.  My siblings and the rest of my cousins are the same ages, but not me and I was never left out.  The time they came to visit I remember all of us girls sitting in our family room watching TV and my sisters and cousins were also reading magazines.  Colleen decided that she was going to pamper me.  She got a pail, filled it with hot water (not too hot) and put my feet in it to soak while she brushed my hair.  I was in heaven!  I think of Colleen often, but this week, on Tuesday, August 28th, it was the 29th anniversary of her death.  I’m running a half marathon four days after that anniversary, and the cousins I mentioned earlier that work and volunteer for Team Ortho….they are Colleen’s siblings.  This struck me as very special and I will be thinking of Colleen during my race.  I will have to share a picture of her at a later date, but she was beautiful…inside and out.

The second person I will be thinking of is my childhood friend Chris Donn.  Our parents were (and still are) dear friends.  My older siblings and Chris’s older siblings grew up together as well.  In fact, both of our sisters were in the Hawkeye Marching Band at the same time.  My parents and me, and Chris’s parents and Chris would travel down to Iowa City every Saturday to watch the marching band and the football game and see our sisters.   We also traveled together to the bowl games to follow the team and band which were such fun trips.  Many times my parents would to go their house to play cards and Chris and I would play in the basement or watch TV.  Chris was older than me and soon he entered high school and went off to college at the University of Iowa.  When I went to college there too, Chris looked after me.  He would call and see how I was doing.  He would come to my dorm to check in on me.  He would take me out to eat or have me over to their apartment to hang out and watch football.  He graduated and got married…same for me.  We kept in touch once in a while about running etc., but it wasn’t very often.  Certainly not like when we were kids.

That call came in 2007.  I had a call while I was at work from my mom saying there had been an accident involving Chris Donn.  My heart was pounding.  Chris had gone out for a run and was struck by a car.  He died later that night.  He was 37 and left a wife and two children.  I think of him every time I run…especially outside.  I think of him during every event because since he was a runner too, I’m sure he would be doing the same thing I’m doing…getting out there and enjoying races.  His sister Linda, the one who was in marching band with my sister, is a runner as well and she ran her first marathon in his memory.

Two pictures of Chris and me.  The one on the left is of Chris holding me when I was a baby.  That’s how far we go back.  The picture on the right is at one of the many Iowa Hawkeye football games our families went to.  Chris in on the right in the baseball cap, next to his mom.  I’m sort of in the middle, top row next to my mom, my sister Jackie and my grandpa Chet.  The two in the band uniforms are our sisters.  My sister Jenny is on the left and Chris’s sister Linda is on the right.

Even though I’m nervous about my hip, it’s nothing compared to the pain these families have gone through losing two loved ones.  I still get emotional when I think of loved ones that are no longer with us.  I’m not sure why at this time Colleen and Chris have been so on my mind….more so than any other time.  Maybe it’s because they are with me.  Maybe it’s because they know how nervous I am for this one and both of them being so on my mind means it’s their way of comforting me.  I don’t know, but I am comforted…and I miss them.

So while I am going to go and enjoy the event, I am also going to think of Colleen and Chris while I’m running and how much they both touched my life and the lives of everybody they knew.  It is tragic that these two wonderful people were taken from their families way too soon, but I am so blessed to have had them in my life.  And suddenly, my hip and everything else seems to pale and isn’t as important of a problem as before.


2 responses to “Women Rock MN

  1. What a beautiful post and a great reminder for all of us.

    Sadly, unless a miracle happens overnight, I will not be running Women Rock tomorrow; it was to be my fourth half marathon also, but on Wednesday I rolled my ankle. The pain and swelling has not gone away enough for me to put impact on it.

    However, I will be there, supporting three of my friends who are all doing their first full marathon!! I’m so excited for them and can’t wait to be there for them on their big day…and to buy them a round of drinks afterward!

    Best of luck to you tomorrow!!

  2. runnergal22 says:

    Heather…I am so sorry to hear about your ankle! How awful for you. I hope that it heals quickly for you. And I hope you had fun with your friends! Take care!

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