UPDATE January 7, 2012: I FINISHED!!!!!
I finished last, but I finished! And about half the people who started the marathon dropped out before they finished, so I still finished ahead of them! I am a MARATHONER now!!!!! I like to think John would have been proud! I would have posted this update earlier, but between the intense muscle soreness and the sinus infection I immediately came down with, I haven't been functional since the first of the month. But I have been very happy! The only thing that I'm NOT quite happy with is how very far away I am from my fundraising goal.... I can understand some skepticism about my ability to complete the marathon, but now that I've done my part, do you think we can accomplish this goal too?
Thank you for visiting this site. I created this page when I decided that I wanted to make a grand (and perhaps foolish) gesture to honor the memory of my stepfather, John P. Howell.
John passed away on January 4th, 2002 after having an aortic aneurism caused by Marfan Syndrome. He had lost his brother Tom six months before to the same kind of aneurism, and his mother passed in 2003 of the same as well. It was John's death that helped the doctors figure out that Marfan's Syndrome afflicts this special tree in my family arboretum. So, in all honesty, this fundraising effort is not only in memory of my stepfather, but my step-uncle Thomas Howell, and my step-grandmother Dolores Howell, as well. It is also in honor of the future that the rest of the Howell family will have, armed with the knowledge of how Marfan's may affect their lives.
Every Christmas and every anniversary of John's birthday since he passed, I've made a donation in his memory to the National Marfan Foundation. John passed less than a month before what would have been his 44th birthday. His birthday was January 31st, the day after my birthday. Many moons ago, as a teenager, it frustrated me that I "had to" share this time with him. Since his passing, my own birthday seems strangely lonely. This New Year's will be the 10th anniversary of his passing. I will be making my tenth Christmas and tenth birthday donation to NMF in his memory. But this year, I'd like to ask you to join me.
Now, on to that grand, foolish gesture I mentioned before. I'm running a marathon.
Let me say that again. I, Rose Sherman, being of questionably sound mind and Smurf-like body, am running a marathon.
The marathon will be taking place starting at 9am on January 1st, 2012 at Stonycreek Metropark in Shelby Township, Michigan. The marathon itself is not affiliated with a specific fundraising effort, it is just a collection of runners who for some reason would rather run 26.2 miles in the freezing cold on New Year's morning than be home, like any sane person would be, in a warm house drinking hot cocoa and recovering from the party the night before. I am using this marathon for my own selfish gesture-making purposes, and visa versa.
I say selfish for a couple of reasons. First, I am hijacking an otherwise non-altruistic event so that I can attempt to do some good in John's name. But I'm getting something for myself out of this. I am going to complete a marathon. Less than 1% of the population will ever attempt to run a marathon; fewer runners than that will complete one. RUNNING IS HARD! And I am an unathletic girl who has never run a race of any distance before! I was routinely mocked by physical education teachers in school. So I would like to fully admit and disclose at this point that I am also hijacking the memory of my stepfather, my feelings for him and the Howell family, and the sense of obligation that I will have with all of your GENEROUS DONATIONS in the back of my mind, to give me to fuel I need to run the full 26.2 miles.
So how exactly do I plan to run 26.2 miles? Well, yeah, I've been running for a couple of years now. At the time of this writing, the greatest distance I've managed is 14 miles. I do have a marathon training plan that I have been and will be following in order to get myself in condition to actually complete the distance. (In the interest of keeping myself honest, you can view my training log here: docs.google.com/open.) But all the training is going to get me, if I'm lucky, through the first half. My warm and squishy feelings and desire to do something good in John's name will probably get me all the way to "The Wall." The Wall, for those who are unfamiliar, is the point at which a runner's internal resources and energy completely run out. It is rumored to be around mile 20. As I've said, I'm built like a Smurf, so it's gonna take more strides than it would for most for me to cover the distance. I'll be lucky to last the first 20 miles.
The final 6.2 miles, my friends, I will be running on my sense of obligation, and the threat of the intense guilt I would experience should I wuss out on something after so many people SO GENEROUSLY made donations in John's memory.
Anyone who has seen John play baseball knows that he would run, walk, or crawl to home - whatever it took. I imagine I will be crossing the finish line with less grace than John managed as he dashed for home. I will probably be hobbling, crying, and maybe whining. But with your encouragement and frankly, pressure, I'll get there. Hopefully without requiring a body cast afterward. (Although John survived being in one of those too, so if need be, so can I.)
In addition to inviting you to make a donation, I would also like to invite you to join me out at Stony Creek Metropark to cheer me on, and maybe run a bit of the distance with me in John's memory. I'm counting on all of you to provide me with enough inspiration, encouragement, and pressure to push past The Wall.
John was the kind of man who would give the shirt off his back to someone who needed it. He taught me how to drive, how to toss a pizza, and how to put the lime in the coconut (even if it did end up tasting vaguely of motor oil). The thought that has given me peace since his passing is knowing that, if John could have known that giving his life would give his family the information to save the lives of his remaining brothers, sister, children, neices and nephews, he would have given it freely and without hesitation. In return for all that he has given, I want to give him my meager 26.2 miles and all the good will I can possibly gather in his name. Any donation you can give will be appreciated, and will make a difference. Thank you so much for your support.