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The Power of Running, Part II

March 25, 2011

Angie, on the left, celebrating many kinds of victories after 13.1 with her sister-in-law.

On November 13th, 2009 my husband and I went into the hospital in labor with our first child together. (I have three from a previous marriage.)  We were two days past the due date, and we were thrilled our baby girl was almost here.  But our world quickly came crashing down.  They couldn’t find a heartbeat.  I went through the rest of the labor knowing that my daughter was already gone.

She was perfect. It was so surreal because she looked like she was sleeping.  She hadn’t been gone long—less than 24 hours—but she’d been gone too long to save. I have never known pain like that.

The doctors all say that it’s not your fault, but those thoughts are all there.  I hated my body. I couldn’t stand to look in a mirror.  My heart was completely broken. But I couldn’t fall apart; I still had 3 kids to take care of. Then in January we got more bad news.  My husband’s father, who we thought was cancer free, now had new spots on his lungs.

I needed something. Anything.

One nice day I took the kids to the park and ran the half-mile track that went around the outside of the play area.  That’s as far as I made it.  My lungs were burning and I was completely done for, but I made that half-mile.  I kept struggling through any time I got the chance to run, but I was determined.  In the middle of March, my brother flew me to Norway to meet my new nephew.  (His wife and I had been pregnant at the same time.) I needed that escape; I saw everything through new eyes. My brother, who ran 20 miles daily to work and back, ran at my pace. But he tricked me into running 2 miles.  I felt like I was going to die through most of it but I kept going.  He wouldn’t let me stop.

He told me I could slow down whenever to, but I could not stop. Then I went home, and a week later, my father-in-law passed away.  Running became a necessity.  Pain?  What right did I have to give in to a little pain when at least I could get out there and run?

Then my husband joined me.  He’s not a runner, but he wanted something to throw himself into so he didn’t have to think.  We made a commitment to getting our family healthier.  Not just losing weight, but full lifestyle changes.  We started doing active things with the kids.  We were both amazed that the kids actually liked healthier menus.  With his support and participation my running started getting easier.

I ran my first-ever half-marathon in October.  It was hard, but each new distance and each small goal reached gave me a new sense of accomplishment.  When I finished that race on October 16th, I felt nothing but grateful.  So grateful for the amazing things God created our bodies to do.

I’m not going to say that I don’t still have what-did-I-do-wrong thoughts. I don’t know that those are going to ever go away.  But I don’t hate my body like I did.  I’ve learned to have a greater respect for my body, and am taking better of it than I ever did before.

The anniversary of my daughter’s death was less than a month after the half, and it was the first holiday season without my father-in-law. I ran once those whole 2 months. I asked for your book from my mom, and I started running again Dec. 27th, 2 days after starting your book.  And I have now signed up for my second half, on April 2nd. Thank you for being exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it.

I pray that someday I can be the blessing in someone else’s life that you have been in mine. Angie: this is Dimity, and I am certain you already have.

39 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2011 5:22 am

    Angie, your story touched me. I am sorry for your loss. I’m so glad you’ve found running. It will bless your life. Never give up.

  2. March 25, 2011 5:27 am

    and the tears… I honestly believe that everything happens for a reason…and that brings me comfort.

  3. March 25, 2011 6:32 am

    I think you are already a blessing to those around you, just by sharing your story. May you have many more miles and smiles!

  4. Cathy permalink
    March 25, 2011 6:54 am

    Angie, I’m so sorry for your loss, but thank you for sharing this powerful story.

  5. Tracy permalink
    March 25, 2011 7:04 am

    When I started reading this on my bberry, my heart sank. I, too, started running (in Jan 2009) after I delivered my 3rd daughter stillborn. Running for me is so much a part of her. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Angie permalink
      March 25, 2011 4:09 pm

      I agree! I think that I started running because of her makes her a huge part of my runs. There are so many times that I think about her while I run. But now its more peaceful thoughts than the painful ones I started with. My heart goes out to you for your loss! Thank you for replying. While its hard to talk about sometimes, there is comfort (though sorrow) at knowing I’m not alone.

  6. March 25, 2011 7:39 am

    oh dear, I’m sorry for your loss, but what a powerful testament to you. You have overcome, even if the feelings won’t ever go away. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Sue permalink
    March 25, 2011 7:46 am

    Angie, thank you so much for the courage and the strength to share your story. I hope you continue to run and smile and be an inspiration to others who doubt themselves or have experienced such painful loss. Your family is definitely blessed to have you in their lives!

  8. CarrieP permalink
    March 25, 2011 7:47 am

    As I sit here with tears streaming down my face, I feel blessed to read your story. I’m currently pregnant. The worries are out there every day… is the baby going to be ok? Am I going to be ok? Will I be able to run after the baby is born? But I know all those things will work out in their own way. And I’ll be me once again. Thank you so much for blessing my day!

    • Angie permalink
      March 25, 2011 4:06 pm

      My prayers go out for a healthy pregnancy. Treasure every second! I don’t think the worries ever go away but you are right, everything works out in their own way. God’s blessings on that little miracle inside of you!

  9. Rachel permalink
    March 25, 2011 8:13 am

    Angie, thank you for sharing your heartbreaking story and your triumphs in running. No doubt that you have made an impact on someone’s life!

  10. Keri permalink
    March 25, 2011 8:14 am

    You are a blessing, you are courageous to share your story. I think there are so many of us with stories that we are afraid to share but we hold one thing in common, we run. We run to deal with the hard things in life, we run for fitness, we run for fun. The simple joy it gives when everything else is horribly hard to deal with.

  11. March 25, 2011 8:31 am

    Best wishes, Angie. Yours is an an amazing story of resilience and hope.

  12. Bente permalink
    March 25, 2011 8:36 am

    More tears-both for your sadness and your accomplishments. Thank you and keep going!

  13. March 25, 2011 9:15 am

    Angie, I am so, so sorry for your loss. Your words struck such a chord with me. The power of running is amazing, but that is only once we get going with it and let it into our lives. You took those first hard steps to save yourself and your family: you are strong, courageous and most definitely a blessing. Best wishes to you and your family.

    • March 25, 2011 4:41 pm

      I just came back to read all the responses and re-read mine above about letting running into our lives and want to reword it because it didn’t quite come out how I meant it. What I meant to say is- running is amazing in how it can save us and it takes a strong, courageous woman like you to take those first steps that you took at the park that day and to know that you had to do something besides give up. Running is often difficult and it takes great faith and fortitude to stick with it during such heartache, like you have done. I so admire the strength you have. Best to you and your family!

      • Angie permalink
        March 25, 2011 7:47 pm

        Thank you Jo. I don’t think you worded it that poorly to begin with. 🙂 I don’t really see myself as strong. But faith is something I have. Along with an amazing support system. How can you not go on with so many wonderful people cheering you on? My best to you!

  14. Robin permalink
    March 25, 2011 10:33 am

    Running IS an amazing thing. I have not known that same degree of loss Angie, but running helped me get through 3 early pregnancy losses. Keep on running and best to you and your family.

    • Angie permalink
      March 25, 2011 4:04 pm

      Any loss of pregnancy is a difficult one. And to lose 3… My best to you and yours as well. May we keep on running for a long time. 🙂

    • Gina permalink
      March 25, 2011 7:40 pm

      I am so sorry for your loss. Running has also been my comfort during the loss of 3 early pregnancies. My husband and I truly believe that God has a reason for everything.

      • Angie permalink
        March 25, 2011 7:49 pm

        My husband and I believe the same. I believe that I will see my daughter again someday. I also believe that she has touched many lives just with the changes my family has made in ours. I pray that continues. I am so sorry for your loss as well. Its never easy, no matter when the loss happens.

  15. March 25, 2011 11:26 am

    oh boy this made me cry. what a brave brave woman….i cannot imagine that kind of pain.

  16. KarenM permalink
    March 25, 2011 11:32 am

    Angie, I too delivered a full-term stillborn baby, and I too turned to running to help me cope. At first it was a chance to get out of the house, and cry in peace. The bonus was that I could just wave to my neighbors as I ran by, and there was no awkward conversation. Later, running helped me to make peace with my body and its random, gigantic failure. It sounds like you are doing incredibly well – I know, really know, how hard it is, and you should be so proud of yourself!

    • Angie permalink
      March 25, 2011 4:02 pm

      The awkward conversations are the worst. There are so many times that baby doesn’t seem as real to everyone else but as the one carrying her, I KNEW her. The movements, the rests. We get to know that personality before that child is born. To know them, then lose them…. My heart simply breaks at your loss. You should be proud of yourself as well!

  17. March 25, 2011 11:36 am

    Angie, I have a very similar story and I just want to say that I’m thankful that we found running 🙂 Be proud of your accomplishments and of yourself!

    • Angie permalink
      March 25, 2011 3:57 pm

      I’m glad we did too! My heart goes out to you. And I’m trying 🙂

  18. Carol permalink
    March 25, 2011 12:50 pm

    Angie, I am SO sorry to hear about your loss. I’m bawling over here, first for your sorrow, then for your triumph. You are a very strong and courageous woman. I’m so glad running has helped you heal a bit. I know a lot of us use running as a sanity-saver, but you take it to an amazing level. God Bless.

  19. Atha permalink
    March 25, 2011 1:56 pm

    Angie, I am so sorry for your family’s losses. Keep running strong!

  20. Julia permalink
    March 25, 2011 2:04 pm

    You are a strong woman. I started running one year ago, after a miscarriage, as a means to literally run away from the pain. I can’t begin to relate to your experience, but I admire you for your bravery. God Bless you. ❤

    • Angie permalink
      March 25, 2011 3:56 pm

      I would never dream to downplay a loss. A miscarriage is pretty painful to go through. Which makes you just as brave. 🙂 God’s blessings on you too. ❤

  21. Angie permalink
    March 25, 2011 3:52 pm

    I am so completely touched and humbled by all of the responses. I don’t feel strong or courageous but I am finally feeling like me again. Thank you so much for all of your well wishes. I am so grateful to be a part of such an amazing community of women!

  22. Megan permalink
    March 25, 2011 5:24 pm

    Angie, it si beautiful that you have taken one of the cruelest things that I can ever imagine happening to a person and turn it into this amazing life changing experience. God bless your sweet baby girl. Keep going, you are inspiring!

  23. Shoshanna permalink
    March 25, 2011 7:20 pm

    Oh, how heartbreaking. I just can’t imagine what a painful experience the loss of your daughter was for you and your husband and her siblings, followed so soon by the loss of your husband’s father. Good for you and your husband for running through your difficulties and making such healthy changes for your family, especially at a time when it would be so much easier to do just the opposite. Whether you feel it or not, you are strong and courageous, and it’s wonderful to read that you are starting to feel like you again.

  24. Terri (From part I) permalink
    March 25, 2011 8:07 pm

    Angie…you ARE a strong women…When I found out I was pregant my with (3rd kinda) we had been trying however my BF Beth was not trying and crazy found out she was pregnant 3 days later with her (3rd kinda) her 2nd was only 1 she was shocked! We were pregnant a whole entire week but you would have thought we had been pregnant 13months we planned and talked about EVERYTHING (see we are together Beth & I and our families ALL the time) we thought the 2 babies would be raised almost like twins we were figuring out how no matter what we would each do whatever it took to be in the deleivery room for the other. In one week we had thought and discussed it ALL. Then on Sunday morning I miscarried…I went numb. I was so terribly sad to lose a baby(explaining to my very excited 5yr & 3yr old was the worst) but then the thoughts of Beth carring a baby right in front of me every weekend, every conversation, I am strong but could I be that strong…well God works in odd ways sometimes…Beth miscarried 3 days after I did. Needless to say we are a bit beyond close. I truly feel she is a part of me as I am her.
    Your quote from above “I don’t feel strong or courageous but I am finally feeling like me again.” Well Angie you are stong and courageous simply because you are allowing yourself to feel like you. You are embracing who you are. everything that happends to you is a part of who you are Embrace that you will have all the strength and courage you will ever need in that.

  25. maria permalink
    March 25, 2011 8:33 pm

    Truly amazing and inspiring! I admire your strength and courage.

  26. March 26, 2011 1:38 pm

    Angie, if only I could offer you a hug through my laptop, I would. Your story touched my heart. While I cannot imagine the pain you felt losing your baby girl, I can relate to losing someone to lung cancer. My mom passed away from lung cancer too and I did what you did. I started running. I am sure you are as grateful as I am to that one person who got you into running. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are a truly an inspiration.

    Hugs and lots of love,

  27. Kate permalink
    March 27, 2011 8:12 pm

    Angie, your story definitely touched me. I am so sorry for your loss and cannot imagine what you have been going through. I recently suffered my second miscarriage and have felt a lot of despair and a lot of hatred for what my body has put me through. Running has been therapeutic for me as well. Thank you for sharing your story.

  28. Kdubs permalink
    March 28, 2011 9:05 am

    Angie, this was beautiful. Thank you for sharing your journey with us all. I love and am moved how you’ve stayed soft and are working through the pain– there is so much beauty in the path you have chosen. I wish I could reach out and hug you!

  29. March 29, 2011 9:26 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Blessings to you.

    Keep running!

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