Many runners will tell you that if they don’t get their daily run or workout in they get cranky. I am not one of those people and I love a day (or week) off. After a marathon I will gladly take a big chunk of time off from running or doing any exercise at all. Beyond walking Brittany several times a day I did next to nothing fitness-wise the week after Vermont City Marathon until last Sunday when I dusted the cobwebs off my bike and took it for a ride on the Minute Man Trail. I was ready to start running again that week even if it was shorter distances at a conservative pace to ease back in. Monday’s four miles were pretty rough but I was feeling much better on Tuesday when I celebrated National Running Day with a short run around the Charles with Chrissy. The running highlight of the week would be on Saturday when I was planning to race the Taylor’s Triumph 5k in Norfolk. It was a little close to my marathon to be racing but I wasn’t going to miss this event.
My good friend and former co-worker, Amy Pond, introduced me to her niece Taylor when she was just a toddler or so. Taylor was a tiny little girl with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. Diagnosed with a congenital heart defect at birth, she muscled through more than any little girl should have to face but always kept that smile. Taylor’s amazing parents, Kristin and Dean, raised her to live life to the fullest. She danced, skied, hiked and traveled the world. Last spring, at only thirteen years old, Taylor passed away suddenly. The world lost an amazing young woman and I can’t begin to imagine the pain that Kristin, Dean, their son Jack and Taylor’s whole family has experienced. But these are amazing people and they found a way to focus their energy on a way to celebrate Taylor while benefiting others.
The Taylor’s Triumph 5k benefits Camp Jewell in Connecticut. A favorite summer getaway for Taylor and special a place for her whole family – it’s where Kristin and Dean met as teenagers! Camp Jewell is planning an amazing project in memory of Taylor that the race will help fund.
I was so excited to be a part of this event and have a chance to catch up with Amy and other former co-workers from EF, some I haven’t seen in ten years. Everyone wore pink, in honor of it being Taylor’s favorite color, and the energy at the race was sky high even though it had been a drizzly morning. By the 9:00 am race start the skies were clear and the sun began to peek out. My friends Alain and Brendan from RaceMenu were there to do the timing so Alain and I headed to the start together creeping up toward the front to get a good strong start. Jack Manning blew the start horn and we took off. I felt great and could have almost imagined I was on fresh legs. The course was fun with several rolling hills and some challenging unpaved roads, they had supporters throughout the course holding signs and cheering for us along the way. I barely looked at my watch through the race and instead focused on how I was feeling. I worked hard but wasn’t pushing myself to a pace that was too uncomfortable. I crossed the finish in 22:54, a 7:23 pace that I am very proud of but the joy in Kristin’s face as I she saw me cross was one of the best finish line sites I’ve ever experienced. She stood there and cheered her heart out for each and every person who ran and walked. By this time the sun was out, clearly a sign from Taylor that she was proud too.
After the race we spent the rest of the morning and afternoon at Kristin and Dean’s home. It was a gorgeous day and while I had planned to be home much earlier I couldn’t pull myself away from the warmth of the sun on their deck and fun of catching up with my friends. The burn on my shoulders was well worth it.
There are races you run to finish, races you run for time and sometimes, races that represent much more than just a running event, like this one. Taylor’s Triumph was an opportunity to bring communities together and support Kristin, Dean and Jack while they find a way to move forward and ensure Taylor leaves a legacy. She was with us all day on Saturday; you could see her in every smile just as big as the one on that little girls face.
To make a donation in Taylor’s name to Camp Jewell visit the Norfolk Community League website.