Marathon for Mom - Mile 26 NYC Marathon 2014 October 24 2015
With just a little over a week to go before running this year's NYC Marathon with Team Fox and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, I'd like to reflect on last year's race and share what an amazing day it was and how Mom joined me at Mile 26.
For those of you who know me, you know I lost my mother on February 3, 2003, just one day before her 70th birthday. At the young age of 50, she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system. Little by little it affected the quality of her life.
It is pretty safe to say, there isn't a day that goes by where I don't think about mom in one way or another. It might be when I look in the mirror and realize how much I look like her, or when I do something and realize I learned it from her or when I recall one of the many amazing memories of our moments together and am thankful for every moment we had and what a special person she really was.
Mom always told me and made me believe I could do whatever I set my mind to. Until last year, I didn't realize that meant being a marathon runner. When Mom was sick, I felt so helpless because there really wasn't anything I could do to help her. I couldn't fix it, like she had done for me so many times as a child. There was no cure and for her, overtime, really no medication that made any difference. It was in the last 20 years of my mother's life where I observed her amazing strength and courage. She never lost her humor, zest for life and never gave up hope that one day a cure would be found for Parkinson's disease.
Deciding to run the NYC Marathon last year and joining Team Fox to help find a cure for Parkinson's disease was a way to honor Mom.
As part of last year's race, I wanted to run every mile in memory of loved ones who had lived with PD and were no longer with us and for those living with PD, so I put out a request and a chance for folks to donate and Dedicate a Mile. I am so thankful for everyone that Dedicated a Mile last year. Nine out of 26 miles were dedicated to someone! It gave me such strength to know when I hit those miles I was running for someone. It certainly helped take my mind off the pain and the challenge of running and allowed me to push through.
Right from the start I knew I would dedicate Mile 26 to Mom. The last .2 miles were all hers. What I didn't expect was for Mom to be there running with me!
When I run, I almost always listen to music. I had put together a playlist with about three hours of my favorite motivating running songs for the big day. I decided I wanted to add the one song that made me think of Mom, Helen Reddy - You and Me Against the World. Admittedly not a song on most runners playlist but it was a song she had sung to me many times as a child and it always gave me strength.
I went through the playlist and after it ended I decided to run for a while without music and take in the sounds of the race and the fantastic crowds and cheering teams. At around mile 20, I turned my music back on and hit "Shuffle" on my playlist. Just 6.2 more miles to run with random music playing and I would officially have completed my first marathon!
At around Mile 23, I started to come into Central Park and make the climb that lasts all the way to the end. Hundreds of people were lined up along the side for as far as one could see. I was hurting and wondering why I was doing this. I knew I would finish but didn't expect to feel as exhausted as I did. At Mile 25 I could hear the crowds cheering and chanting different things so I decided to turn down the volume on my music so I could really take it all in. Just then, I heard someone yell, "Nancy!". I turned my head to the left and saw my family cheering me on among all the people standing behind the barricades. It was awesome to see them there. It gave me a boost as I continued to head toward Mile 26.
I looked at my Garmin watch and it said 25.5, 25.6, 25.7....... I could see the big 26 MILE banner just up ahead. I was so exhausted and so happy to see the banner. The noise at that point from the crowds was so loud it seemed even deafening, but just at 25.9, I faintly heard a familiar melody playing. No way! How could it be? Was it possible? I had hit shuffle an hour ago on a playlist of three hours of music. I quickly hit the volume control on my headphones and turned up the music coming out of my phone.
Just as I passed the MILE 26 banner, I heard it loud it clear ........
Sometimes it feels like you and me against the world
When all the others turn their backs and walk away
You can count on me to stay
At Mile 26, the mile I had dedicated to my Mom, she joined me to make that final journey and cross the Finish Line. I started to cry with joy! She had always been my rock and once again was there when I needed her.
Sweet Success August 15 2014
It was Sunday morning, May 25, 2014, a perfect day for a race; sun shining, a little breeze and the perfect temperature. Assembled were some 900 runners for the Med-City Half Marathon in Rochester, Minnesota, each with their own unique story and personal reasons for running 13.1 miles.
Amy Krahn, bib number 1252, was one of those runners, and like many it would be her first half marathon. In one way, Amy was no different than most new runners, uncertain what the day would bring and questioning the outcome. Unknown, except to her closest friends and family, what separated Amy from most other runners was just a little over a year and a half ago, Amy had been 70 pounds heavier and struggling with a weight problem she’d had most her life.
Amy grew up in a small town in northeastern Iowa. She was active in high school, including a sprinter on the track team and a cheerleader. Although heavy throughout middle school and high school and teased relentlessly for it by her classmates, Amy never lacked in confidence and was good at whatever she did.
Now a wife and mother of three daughters, a secretary at the local K-8 school and owner of a part-time business on the side, just three years ago, Amy found herself wondering what happened. How did her weight get so out of control?
A loyal follower of the popular TV Reality Show, “The Biggest Loser,” Amy would ask herself, “Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I lose weight?” Then in September 2012 while attending a wellness workshop during a staff development day, the “Ah-Ha” moment happened. Determined to do something for herself and get her weight under control, Amy joined Weight Watchers the next day.
Amy first focused on her eating habits. Then she added exercise. Her exercise of choice was running. She always wished she could run long distances and knew running was a good way to get a work out in and burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. By winter, Amy was seeing the results of eating healthy and running and decided it was time to kick it up a notch.
Amy’s first goal was to conquer a 5K. Determined to make it happen, Amy completed her first 5K in April 2013, just weeks after her sister Tracy did, who had also joined Weight Watchers in September 2012. Amy had caught the “bug” and continued with several 5K’s in 2013, including a run for her family, the 2013 Polish Days 5K in Ivanhoe, Minnesota.
Feeling great and excited to be on track with her weight loss goals, Amy finished her first running season with a 5K personal record of 27:47 at the November 2013 Chocoholic Frolic.
Moving into 2014, Amy secretly had her sights set on running the half marathon at the Med-City Marathon, from Byron, MN to Rochester, Minnesota, 13.1 miles with the first six miles sprinkled with hills.
With numerous half marathon training programs on the market to choose from, Amy chose an unconventional method and decided to use her own “Just Run” program. Starting out with four mile runs and then moving up to seven miles, finished with a couple of eight mile runs. Amy just ran until she couldn’t. There were no speed work-outs, no grueling hill runs planned and no mile repeats. She just simply ran. Anything more than three miles on a tread mill and boredom set in, so Amy would run outside in her neighborhood and around town. Amy loves morning runs and admits she is a “total music junkie,” almost always having her mp3 player turned on during her runs.
Feeling confident her body could finish the race, but not mentally confident she would be able to do it, Amy didn’t register until about a month before the race. Amy admits, the biggest challenge was being able to wrap her head around it mentally, and be her own cheerleader. She knew her body could do it, but she questioned whether her mind would.
At 7:00am on Sunday, May 25th, the gun went off and Amy started her first half marathon, 70 pounds lighter than she was a year and a half before and determined to achieve her race goal.
Setting a race goal is a very personal thing. For some it’s about setting a new personal record or placing first in their age group. For many, it’s to cross the finish line. Amy’s goal was to finish her first half marathon in less than three hours.
The crowd’s lined the race route, cheering, ringing their cow bells and holding hand-made signs of encouragement for the runners as they passed. Always supportive, Amy’s family members met her every two miles to cheer her on. Approaching mile ten, the mental struggle kicked in for Amy and she was certain she couldn’t do it. Overweight her whole life, never a distance runner, didn’t follow a proven system of training, who was she to think she could run a half marathon, let alone finish it?
Then she saw them; her family again, cheering her on. Her three girls shouting, “ You can do it Mom! You can do it!” Her eyes full of tears, heart racing and body aching, it was at mile eleven that Amy went from doubting herself to knowing she had this, she could do it and she would do it.
All of Amy’s hard work and dedication paid off.
With arms raised and a big smile on her face, Amy crossed the finish line, surpassing her goal with a 2:49:51 Half Marathon personal record. Family, friends and co-workers were all there to cheer her on.
What’s next for Amy?
She admits she loves to run because it makes her feel good and she really enjoys the positive feedback from people who see what she has done. It’s a lot of personal gratification. As a matter of fact, Amy’s youngest daughter Sydney calls her “Power Mama”. Now part of the overall small percentage of people who’ve completed a half marathon, Amy truly considers herself a runner and proudly displays a 13.1 sticker on the back of her van.
She wears all her race shirts with pride, including her new “Runcredible” shirt, as seen here vacationing at Mount Rushmore with her family.
A weight loss journey of 70 pounds and running a half marathon is a challenge in and of itself, but to top it off, Amy also owns “Amy’s Cakes,” a bakery business, working part-time baking cakes, cookies and other tasty treats for graduations, weddings and family celebrations. Amy has been able to fight off the temptations and says the key is baking for others rather than for herself and her family.
Amy is dedicated to her new lifestyle and plans on continuing with Weight Watcher’s. The weight loss journey was the beginning of a whole new lifestyle for her family, with healthier eating habits and a greater appreciation for exercise. As a matter of fact, Amy’s middle daughter Erin may follow after mom and really wants to run.
As for running, Amy now sports a Garmin watch to help her track those daily morning runs. She recently participated in her first mud run and definitely has her sights set on completing another half marathon this year, but would like to run one with her sister Tracy, who also lost 70 pounds.
Amy claims a full marathon isn’t on the horizon for her. She really enjoyed the half marathon and admits, “Running a 5K now is a piece of cake!”
Celebrate the Run would like to thank Amy Krahn for being so gracious and sharing her story with us and the running community. At Celebrate the Run our mission is to promote, encourage and celebrate the running achievements of all runners. It’s not only about crossing a finish line but making it to the starting line. Amy Krahn exemplifies that philosophy. Thank you Amy!
Chief Running Officer
Celebrate the Run
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