ALZ Awareness ... for Mom.
June 2, 2013
by Anne Hartwick
"I know I've asked this before, but what's that 26.2 mean?"
My mom, Dede White, had Alzheimer's. She would look at the "26.2" tattoo on my leg, a gift I gave myself after the first marathon I ran, and wonder what it was for. If she asked me once, she asked me a hundred times...very typical of someone with Alzheimer's. When I would tell her that 26.2 was the distance of a marathon and that I had run one, she was always amazed that I had done such a thing.
But I don't think she could have been more amazed than I am. I hate running and don't think of myself as a "runner." I'm just an idiot who runs.
The 2012 Monumental Marathon was my third full marathon. And the third was no easier than the first. In fact, it was harder. You see, I sprained my ankle the Tuesday before the race. The thought of not running the race never entered my mind. I was on a mission! Running in the Monumental Marathon, I partnered with ALZ Stars, a cause running program to benefit the care, support, and research efforts of the Alzheimer's Association. Mom died in July of 2012. While losing her has been one of the most difficult experiences of my life, there is comfort in knowing that she no longer suffers from Alzheimer's. That person she was toward the end, while lovable, sweet, innocent and naive, was far from the vibrant, life giving woman who was my mother. Partnering with the Alzheimer's Association was just a small way for me to honor my mom.
So, no. A sprained ankle wasn't going to stop me from running on November 3rd. Rather fitting as it just happened to be the day before what would have been Mom's 81st birthday.
Race day started out like any other day. At the half-way point of the race, I was feeling pretty good, bum ankle and all.
Then the sleet came.
I remember thinking, "This might not be so bad. At least it's bouncing off." But then...the sleet became rain. Cold rain. I looked down at my arms again and the rain didn't bounce off. It soaked in. From head to toe, literally, I was soaked and I REALLY wanted to quit.
But I couldn't. Something bigger than me was pushing me on - Mom. I had a special shirt made for the day - one that honored her. I hoped that my shirt would let people know why I was doing this. So I kept going. My good friend met me to run me in. I think Mom must have sent her to help me finish the race. With her help, I made it to the finish line. When I turned the last corner, I somehow managed to run the last stretch and crossed the finish line - FINALLY!
In many ways, the 2012 Monumental Marathon is something that I'd rather forget: cold and wet. But I did accomplish something on the rain-soaked streets of Indianapolis. I raised money to support the efforts of the Alzheimer's Association while honoring my mom.
And I can feel good about that.
Three Time Marathoner