This is it; these are the individuals who will carry me through the last of the grueling miles on Saturday. Thank you for being so impactful in my life. Now, I just need to run.
21. Kelsie & Josh – My older sister Kelsie, and her husband Josh, recently visited and spent a weekend with Rob and me. Kelsie is hands-down one of the most easy-going and kind people I know. She is always lending a helping hand to others and does it with a smile! They are expecting a baby girl in December, so Mile 21 will be extra special thinking about her, too! Here are the three of us, with Toby!
22. Rob – To the man who lights up my life, loves me unconditionally, and is without a doubt my better half, Mile 22 is for you, Rob Baby. As your wife, I want to be nothing less than “the best” because that is what you deserve. Thank you for making our life together so blissful, spontaneous, and gratifying. I love you! When I see you in the crowd during the race, you better say something to make me smile. See you at the finish line, hopefully sooner than later!
23. Naomi – Naomi is my friend who lives the farthest distance from me—all the way in Tokyo, Japan! She is beautiful inside and out with talents ranging from swimming, merchandising, crafting, and even singing! We met at Iowa State, and I knew Naomi was a kindred spirit! We haven’t seen each other in person in years, but we are still close and make time to connect using technology. Maybe 2018 will be the year will can reunite?! She recently celebrated her birthday on September 23rd, so Mile 23 is only fitting! Naomi is pictured here with little Olivia and Toby.
24. Noell & Max – Noell and Max are former colleagues of mine, and the three of us were true work besties! They brought so much joy and sunshine to the work day. Noell now lives in Texas with her husband Chad and baby girl Elise (who is a PERFECT baby)! We used to run countless miles together on either the Busse loop or Fox River trail, and I miss my running buddy dearly. Regardless, Noell is an incredible friend, mommy, dietitian, and runner. Max still lives somewhat local, and we meet up for coffee (or tea) when our schedules allow. He is worldly, intelligent beyond my understanding, and compassionate! I appreciate his sense of humor and genuineness. Max and Noell never cease to amaze me with their vibrant personalities and thoughtful actions. I am blessed to have them both in my life. Thinking of them will make Mile 24 much more enjoyable! Noell and I are directly below! Max is on the right in the second photo!
25. Mom (Sharon) – “As is the mother, so is her daughter” – Ezekiel 16:44. I like to think that I take after my mom because she is an incredible woman in every aspect of life. From childhood, I always knew I had the best mom! She is nurturing and always encourages my siblings and me to pursue our dreams, even now. Though I am 5+ hours away from home, we still connect daily via phone. She would say otherwise, but she is happiest doing kind things for others and always puts everyone else’s needs ahead of her own (literally ALWAYS). I must also mention that she is an incredible baker—my sisters and I learned everything we know from her! Mom, Mile 25 won’t be easy, but thinking of you will make it better! Here she is with Davio being all cute with coffee!
26. Cathy – Cathy is my mother-in-law, and welcomed me into the family like a daughter since Day 1. She inspires me constantly with her many talents, especially running and pushing boundaries! She is an experienced marathoner herself and even ran Boston, so she knows what this "fun" (aka torture) is all about. We trained together several times this year, and I always enjoyed our time together running various trails! I must brag about her because she will be running the Sleeping Bear Dunes Half and is going to be crazy fast! Everyone please wish her good luck on her race! I’m praying to be in a good place at Mile 26, but I will pick up the pace regardless for you, Cathy! Starting Saturday afternoon, we can relax (even though we will probably be out for a run first thing Sunday morning)! Cathy is sandwiched between both Robs in the photo below!
26.2 Poppy - Now the last two-tenths of a mile are perhaps the most special and are dedicated to Poppy Joe. No words can describe how much I miss my grandpa Joe, who we called Poppy, because he truly was one-of-a-kind. Living only a mile down the road from my parents’ house, my siblings and I practically lived at his house growing up. It was evident the six of us developed a very special bond with him. He had a magical way of interacting with people, and everyone truly adored him. I strive to be like him, especially because he was tough as nails and stubborn as a mule. He used to say, “Now Lauren, you quit that running or you’ll wear out your knees and be old like me.” Even though I haven’t listened and run more than I used to, I’m sure he’s looking down with a twinkle in his eye and smirk on his face, and that alone gives me strength.