Please use this blog to help us remember Joshua Lee Anderson, who made the tragic and fatal decision to take his life on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Please post any memories or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Half and Full Marathon Fundraiser - March 20, 2010 - updated with You Tube video

Days leading up to race day - To be honest, the most predominant feeling was one of dread and regret. After weeks of training, I was finding that after 8 miles, it seemed like every cell in my body wanted to stop. The longest I had run was 10 miles, and both times, it was really, really, really difficult. It would be fair to say that I could barely finish. I was experiencing sharp pain in my right knee during the long runs. But the notes, letters and checks that came daily did much to encourage me to continue in the quest to run 13.1 miles.

Two days before - was the 1 year death anniversary. We had a memorial service at "Josh's park", as his grandmother calls it, and then an open house in the evening. A mother of one of Josh's closest friends provided the food. Friends traveled from all over Virginia as well as from different states to help us remember Josh and to cheer us on during the race. As I remember this day, tears of thankfulness, not sadness fill my eyes. We are so overwhelmed by all of the love and support shown to us individually and as a family.

Day before - In the morning, Lauren, Tim and I met with a program director from the Optimist Club. We were encouraged by our conversation as they have found an organization that can possibly provide the type of programs that we are looking to fund: education/awareness of teenage depression/suicide -hopefully at his two high schools. Additionally, she had run a couple of marathons and based on her experience, suggested that we ask friends or family to run the last couple of miles with us. We followed her advise and this is one of the main reasons that we were able to successfully finish the race.

Eliza came in on the bus in the afternoon and her mom flew in from a vacation in LA. It was exciting to have our team together after months of training in four different cities (Boston, NYC, Atlanta and DC). Nadine, another dear friend joined us for dinner and gave us many other useful tips as this was her third marathon. We feasted on a big pasta dinner complete with lots of bread (carb heaven!), spinach salad and wonderful desserts that were left over from our open house. A plan on how all the "cheerleaders" would get to various mile markers by using the Metro was made and distributed. We were nervous, excited and ready.

Race day - Up at 5am and out of the door by 5:45am for the 7am start. Gillian is making a documentary of this event so she interviewed us while getting ready. When asked how I was feeling, two words came to mind: nervous dread. I really did not think I could finish but was going to give it my best effort. Some may think a negative mindset would work against me. In actual fact, it was the opposite because it took the pressure off and whatever happened, happened. I would be okay with it.

It is hard to describe the energy and enthusiasm that surrounded us as we waited for the start. It was another stellar day and we all felt Josh's presence. The route took us past the the U.S. Capital, Washington Monument, White House, through Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, Howard University and back to the start. As we ran through neighborhoods, people were on their porch, playing music from boom boxes or with actual instruments like drums and trumpets. Little girls dressed up in their cheerleading outfits and were on the streets with the parents, yelling for us to keep going. Our fans were at mile markers 3, 6, 7.5, 10 (Gillian and a friend joined us) and at the half marathon finish. Because of the blue flags, we were able to spot one another from a distance.

The girls continued and a large group of fans were at mile 17. In fact, one of Lauren's friends joined them at this time and another at mile 20. During the last mile, Gillian and her friends joined and the entire "posse" ran them in. My eyes filled up when Lauren ran by - to do this in memory and honor of her brother was moving. Apparently, the announcer had seen the blue flags and asked what they were for. He was filled in and as Lauren crossed the finish line, over the loud speaker, he mentioned how her run was dedicated to Josh.

Post race - Two days later, my legs are sore and the right knee is tender. Words I would now use to describe the day? Exciting, exhilarating, and amazing. It was such a great experience that while running, we were talking about doing this again the following year and having more people join us.

As of this post, I am delighted to report that 89 checks and $8,000 has been given - double our goal! Thanks so much to all of our supporters. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of other young people.

See YouTube Video of the day.

One of many flags that were made for this special day

In the crowd - before the start of the race

Our "cheerleaders" - using the metro to get to places along the race route

Our team at 7.5 miles.....looking good!

Crossing over the half marathon finish line!

We made it!

Lauren in the final leg of the marathon - being "run in" by a group of Gillian's friends

Eliza in the final leg - ready to get a "side five" from me

They made it!

Lauren and Eliza with their cheering section

All for our beloved Josh

Celebrating with a well-earned glass of champagne

A note from Lauren about what the day meant to her....

My new beginning.

Some of you may know but most of you not, that I have suffered the past couple months with depressed and anxious thoughts and feelings as I have not been able to come to terms with the tragic loss of my brother and comprehend his mode of death and what both have meant for my life. One of the things- among my amazing friends and family as well as professional help- that has helped me progress through this low time has been my marathon training. Even when days seemed like they could not get worse, I would force myself to get out there and keep up with my running schedule. On the weekends, instead of partying and being social as I normally would, I devoted my time to preparing, completing and recovering from my long runs of 17, 18, 19 miles. During these hours, when I was alone on the road with my thoughts, I was able to put to practice a lot of the methods and practices I was using to re-train my thought process that has taken a course of its own post-Josh’s death.

So that is why marathon day meant so much to me. Josh’s spirit with us the entire time- making the sky as blue as possible and the temperature warm but bearable. The support was uncanny and amazing- my friends and family were running all over DC (literally) to catch us with loud screams and flag waving for a split second as we ran by. But there was also hope in the air. Hope that Josh will never be forgotten, that his death will not go in vain and especially necessary for me, hope that there still is life out there to be lived. There is a life that must be filled with relationships that withstand all adversity, love that endures even when it seems impossible and perseverance to take every day as it comes. Thank you to everyone who was there to support us- I know that I most definitely could not have run 26.2 miles without all of you there. Thank you Josh for watching over us that day and everyday. And thank you God for giving me the hope to get through this and live a much more fulfilled life on the other side.

God Bless


Nadine said...

Sue, Tim, Tyler, Lauren and Jillian,

It meant the world to me to be able to spend time with all of you this past weekend. It warms my heart to see how strong you all have been and outwardly focused. It was sooooo special. Congrats Sue and Lauren on such a great accomplishment. Please continue to know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. Thanks again for including me.

Much, Much Love
Nadine :)

Biggie-Z said...

My heart is so full reading all of these posts and comments. We were with you in spirit last week, though I do wish we could have been there in person as well. Look forward to seeing you soon.

Lots of love.