Using my Feet

Is anyone else having a hard time focusing? It’s hot, it’s cold, it’s warm and rainy or sunny and snowing. What is happening?! Beyond the weather driving my headaches to the breaking point and my dog to chase his tail- I am ready to battle the out of doors: FEET FIRST!

This Spring I was certain I would have a few half-marathons lined up… alas, they are both expensive and time consuming and with my milk supply already dwindling with each extra mile I push myself, I can’t risk too much training at the sake of my darling Adelaide. And so… I have banded together with some awesome people to run, walk and sit for some things that are close to my heart- literally.

The two events I have coming up mean more to me than most would understand. I speak of my father often; a man dying too young, leaving his wife and four children far too soon. I like to imagine him coaching my little brother in ice hockey up there in the big blue sky, instead of deep in the ground. What I hate to imagine more, is Addie losing her Daddy to cancer, as I lost mine. That is a story which I’m sure I will tell time and time again, as April 21st passes every year- no matter how hard I will myself to sleep through it. What you might not know, is that my cousin Allyson will be 18 forever. After a battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, she lost her life at Bowman Gray Hospital in North Carolina. That was 17 years ago. There are stories that have been told about the events after her death. How hard it was for my aunt to lose her only child, and right after her high school graduation. How everyone felt so alone- lost in their own thoughts and afraid to ask those around us if they were OK. None of us felt OK. Sometimes, we still don’t. There is much to be told about the loss of a child, but not much you want to say. We will always love you, Allyson. You and Jonathan are my guardian angels.

My baby brother and my cousin, Allyson

My baby brother and my cousin, Allyson

Fast forward a few years from tragedy. My Mom was reinventing herself. She’s always been amazing, but now she was ready to take it to a whole other level. She was ready to be a runner. She signed up with Team in Training in Philadelphia and did 26.2 miles (a full marathon!) in Disney in 2001. Yeah, she’s amazing and inspiring. So inspiring that when I saw a TnT mailer on my dining room table in 2010, I immediately checked off the box that coincided with the informational meeting I was able to attend. Hearing the past participants talk and meeting the coaching staff was amazing. Coaches I would get as a bonus for running!? Yes please! I had already run my first half- a pitiful display in Philly’s ING Rock ‘n Roll.

Worth-women running!

Worth-women running!

Philly ING

It was hot and I was fresh off cigarettes… and it showed. That was September 2010. I wanted my next display to be amazing! So in May of 2011 I ran the Cox Half Marathon with my new teammates. I loved every mile! I knew I would sign up for more.


The next Team event I ran was the inaugural ING Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in Providence. In August. Being what Rhode Island is (Hell), the weather was terrible, but it truly reflected my spirits. I had just had a miscarriage and was still feeling pretty terrible emotionally. I had not trained since the morning of July 22, 2011 when I woke up and I wasn’t part of that longed for group of expectant moms anymore. Those weeks I had sat there, waiting for my doctor to call and tell me that there was a mistake, were just weeks I was not training. I laced up two days before the race for a short run and I was badly winded. None-the-less, I gathered up what was left of me, and put on my purple shirt for the race.


My favorite part of Team in Training is the camaraderie. There are people EVERYWHERE that yell “GO TEAM!” as you run past. You know what? They’re cheering for you! I love this sport, but more than anything, I love taking part in it as a member of TnT.

Rock n Roll PVD

As I ran the umpteenth hill Providence threw at me, I came up on another purple shirt. He was not someone I had trained with. Chris was from another group, but he was one of my kind! We met up with each other as the hill seemed to gather all it had to keep us stationary. Suddenly, back and forth, we began to encourage each other. We made it to the plateau, and we ran the rest of the way together. Chris’ mom (insanely beautiful from her pictures and one of the most special women I’ve ever heard about) had recently passed from cancer. Chris was running for her. He was going to finish this race because he had to. We all have to do what we have to do to make it through what life hands us. I felt like I was losing my grip on happiness, so I ran. Chris had lost the most amazing woman most men ever know, so he ran. And us? We ran together. We ran though shallow breaths, each gasping for air we thought might not come. Yelling out encouragement as we passed the mile markers, we would tell the other to go ahead, but neither one budged from the other person’s side. We chose to tell each other stories of our loved ones past, and I told him I’d recently lost a pregnancy. A total stranger, Chris looked at me with his big brown eyes like he was trying to take some of the pain away for me. Running in purple led me to meet a friend I will always cherish. He may be a New Yorker and like the Rangers (lame), but this Flyers’ fan still thinks the world of him.

Chelley and Chris

And that leads me to my first race post-baby: Cox 5k. How does one go from 13.1 miles to 3.1? They have a baby and take a year off. That being said, I am SO happy to be back in my purple shirt! As with every season, there is an honored patient. I am proud to run for them, but I choose to honor my own hero. She goes by the name of Belle. Please read about her HERE. I immediately broke in two when I heard she was the daughter of a fellow blogging mama right here in my (now) home state. I knew I had to lace up again to try and fight this battle to win this war- to find a cure for leukemia. And so, I will be running my 5k on May 11, 2013. I have a fundraising page HERE, but I’ve already met my goal. While I encourage everyone to keep donating- everything over the goal is just a bonus for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) and runners like me love over-accomplishing our goals, but I’d also like you to consider making a donation directly to Belle and her family HERE.

This past weekend I had the honor of meeting Belle. She was the first to greet me at the door of another friend’s birthday. Her beautiful face is what struck me. Hiding behind her full cheeks was a smile that swept across her face as she ran to her equally stunning mom, Melissa. At this event I got to talk with Melissa, who is both mentally and physically strong. Sometimes we say someone is strong because there isn’t a better adjective to describe their character. In this case, this woman is breathtakingly strong. Her ability to keep calm and positive, even on the bad days encourages me to tie my darn sneakers, plug  in the treadmill and spend nap time running- I can always shower later. Belle needs me to run, now.

For the next few years of Belle’s life, she will fight the ultimate war within her own body. I ask you to help me however you feel comfortable, to donate what you can to help this cause. Donate, blog about, share on social media sites. What can you do to help? Team in Training, Sit-a-Thon or check out this event the Rhody Bloggers For Good are hosting:

Sit-a-Thon Flyer

Lastly, my amazing blogging ladies (myself included) will be walking for the American Heart Association. So many of us women don’t remember  our tickers, and often, we are the ones who have undiagnosed heart conditions. Our team is HERE. I am so excited to participate in this event! This is our mission:

Imagine the impact if we reduce death and disability from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20% by 2020! Our team is joining the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk to promote physical activity to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Please Join Our Team! Help us reach this lifesaving goal!

Thank you for joining me in my Spring of He(alth)(lping Others)! My plate is full, but I am so thankful for each bite. Or in this case, step!

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  1. says

    You are awesome Chelley. Thank you for this post and for spreading the word about our event for Belle AND the Heart Walk. The heart walk is an event that is very, very important to me personally, and it means so much to have incredible women walking with my son and I!! Thank you!! xo

  2. says

    Human’s capacity to love and connect, to overcome and find strength continually amaze and inspire me. What an amazing, unexpected friendship in you and Chris!
    Sorry to miss the Sit-A-Thon, I’m away that weekend. I wanted to pin the notice about it though, it didn’t work. I’ll try another way!

  3. says

    Your words always penetrate my soul. You have such a way of telling a tale, intertwined with tales, that all meet and merge and talk about life and love and loss and the wisdom of it all. Like a sage, you are. You’ve been blessed with this powerful gift of putting thoughts and experiences and people to words. It’s a rare gift, my friend, and you change the world we live in… xo

  4. says

    This is so beautifully written, Chelley. I’m so sorry for the heartache you have had, losing loved ones much too young. You are so awesome to be running the 5K in Belle’s honor. What a special lady you are. But I already knew that!

  5. sara says

    I remember being afraid we’d missed you to come yell at you to keep going (and dear god, pouring buckets of rain, too. ugh). Then we saw Dave and knew we didn’t miss you! We waited for you, yelling/cheering you on, and then taking him back to the ranch and drying his jacket as much as possible before he left off on the bike to catch up with you. I cherish these memories, because I got teary every time I saw you run toward us. Good times, doll. And we’ll be there yelling for you again at this 5K too. xoxo


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