Before the Princess Half, I came across something on twitter. It’s called the #Run3rd movement, and it was started by actor Sean Astin.
It’s pretty simple. I run 1st for me. For my health, for my peace of mind. Running is my “me time”, somethings that many moms see very little of. It’s my time for quiet, to decompress, the be alone with my thoughts, to regroup and to just be in the moment, when days are filled with noise and chaos.
I run 2nd for my family. I run to introduce my young children to the world of staying active and fit. I run to make my family proud. I run to show them that you can accomplish anything, that you just need to set a goal and give every part of yourself to that goal, and you can make magic happen.
I run 3rd for the babies. #Run3rd is a simple dedication, making your runs, making each step count for something bigger, something bigger than you and your tiny part of the world. Without any knowledge of Run3rd, I was already doing this when I started on my journey last summer. Getting into the groove of a new routine can be difficult. It takes repeated effort to get past the mental barriers holding many people back from doing new things, including exercise. I was so set in my routine of not doing anything, and made excuses for why I couldn’t go out and run, or why I could only run X amount of time or for just X amount of miles. I had a long day, my head wasn’t in it, I was tired, I had work to do. But each day I made the conscious decision to get out and run, no matter what the hold up was. What did I use to drive me? Simply my ability to run.
I know from personal experience that the gift of life, and the ability to get out and put one foot in front of the other, is not something that is guaranteed. For most people, it is easily taken for granted. Many have not been faced with a major, unexpected loss. Sure, we lose grandparents, then parents, sometimes too early, but this circle of life is somewhat expected. We expect to lose our grandparents first, then our parents. We pass our hearts along to the next generation, our children. Our children are supposed to be a constant in life. Once they are born, we will watch them grow, and they will care for us when they have reached adulthood and we have entered into our golden years. Yes, we understand things go wrong sometimes, kids get sick, bad things happen, but it never happens to us, and we are able to go through life denying the reality of life taken too soon.
I lost my first son Chris, to SIDS, 10 years ago. The 10th anniversary of his death was on March 1, just days after I completed my first half marathon. He died when he was 2.5 months old. When he was alive, I never thought that anything would happen to him. That kind of thing happens to other people. I read about it, I cried a few tears thinking of other mothers who have to deal with it, but that wouldn’t happen to me. Then reality and life smacked me in the face, hard. I woke up on day and my baby was gone. When this happens, you enter a new reality, one where life(at any age) is fragile, is limited, and isn’t to be taken for granted. One where milestones, like first words, first steps, potty training, school, become so huge, because you realize what was taken from you. My baby boy never got to take steps. We all take our steps for granted. We walk around the house, we walk to school, we walk at work, we walk to the store, each step, lost in time, never to be appreciated. These are all steps my baby never got to take, and those steps are no longer lost, but they create a huge void. Over my journey as a baby loss mama, I’ve met too many other moms who also live without the steps of their children.
I started by using Chris as my motivation. I was not going to take my ability to walk and run for granted, I was going to appreciate this gift. With each step, over each mile, it was for him. I carried him with me, in my head and in my heart, taking him running, so his spirit and memory could experience what he never got to in life. Many times, his memory carried me through for that extra mile. It took me up that hill I really didn’t want to run up, it pushed me. Even at my half marathon, he pushed me. I remember, after I hit mile 12, my body was wearing down and I was in pain. I was walking and starting to feel defeated. But I was not going to be defeated, and I said to him, “Come on buddy, let’s go.” I finished the race running.
The desire to dedicate my miles has grown. I don’t just run for the baby I lost. I run for all of the babies. I take their steps for them, I savor them, I appreciate them. I take their memories with me, their names, their lives, and they live on. They are not forgotten or buried by time, like many parents feel they are after so many years have passed. I don’t just run for Chris, I run for Super Jake and Caleb, I run for Patrick and Ian, I run for Christian, I run for Gaven, I run for Christian and Kirra, I run for Stevie Joy, I run for Spencer, I run for their short lives and their everlasting memories. I #run3rd for them.