You are strong.

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I was approaching the hardest part of my first half marathon last year around mile 11 when I saw those words.  It was at a point when I was really struggling.

Big letters written in white chalk taking up the width of the path.  The words were stacked, building on each other…

YOU
ARE
STRONG

Chills went down my body and my eyes filled with tears.  There was a WENDY written above the YOU and I was suddenly grateful for the person cheering Wendy on because it gave me the push I needed at that exact moment.  The moment when doubt started creeping in.

You are strong. You are strong. You are strong.  I kept repeating those three words over and over in my head until I reached 13.1.  It wasn’t easy but I made it.  One foot in front of the other.

My second half marathon was the Long Beach Half last October.  The first one was about finishing and surviving  for me, but I wanted the second one to be more enjoyable if that was possible.

When I stood at the starting line that day with my friend waiting for the gun to go off, the feeling of excitement and energy was intoxicating.  I said to her, “I feel so blessed to get to experience this in my lifetime.”  It was one of those moments I will always remember.  Something about that race was magical to me.

The entire time I was running that fall morning,  I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

I was 35 and healthy.  I had legs that could run.  I had a body that would allow me to run.  I was doing this because I could.  I kept thinking about my husband and my girls and how lucky we were to be healthy.

The flyer I saw in my race package the day before when I picked up my bib kept flashing my mind.  It was for a race on May 1st, 2011 to benefit pediatric cancer research.

Pediatric + cancer.

Two words I didn’t even want to put together in my head because it made me think of my own kids. What if it was MY kids? I had to push the thought away because I couldn’t bear it. Then I thought of my friend who had recently sent me this post about being a pediatric cancer survivor.

It wasn’t a coincidence that my eyes were opened to this cause. I knew during that race that day I had to do something to help.

I would run my next half marathon to help find a cure for pediatric cancer.

YOU
ARE
STRONG

And now that I have met  the families facing pediatric cancer, the word “strength” has new meaning. Kids fighting with all they have to get better and families that are there with them every minute, every step of the way.

I look at them with awe and say…

YOU
ARE
STRONG

To me, they are the ones that epitomize strength.

I also think about the people working for the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation and how they fight to help fund research to find causes and cures.  How they work tirelessly and do it with the most positive attitudes and beautiful spirits.  And I say…

YOU
ARE
STRONG

So I have decided it is fitting that these three simple words be the Tiny Oranges team slogan on May 1st, 2011. I love that sentence and what it symbolizes in more ways than one.

To me, it represents a celebration of our own strength.  The strength to run the next mile, take on a new challenge or discover an inner strength we might not know we possess.

But we will also be walking or running in honor of the strength present in those we will be helping. For the kids, families, doctors, everyone involved in or affected by the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation.

Learning from their strength.   And gaining inspiration from all they teach us…

YOU
ARE
STRONG

Join us on May 1st. Click here to learn more…

9 Comments

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9
  1. 1
    Shanna says:

    YOU are strong and THAT was an AWESOME post! So excited and proud to be on your team!!

  2. 2
    Sharon says:

    Yes you ARE STRONG!! Thank you for this post – it was much needed to remind me I can do this!! I am going to chant that during my training 🙂 Thank you for all your inspiration, encouragement and support I cannot wait to run as a part of Team Orange!!!

  3. 3
    JennyH says:

    Awesome message, beautifully written!

  4. 4
    Kim says:

    It’s 9:00 in the morning and I’m already verklempt. Thank you Jen, for reminding all of us, no matter what our affiliation to pediatric cancer is and no matter how fast or far we can run, that we are strong. No matter how much worry or anxiety we have, we are strong. I hate Gavin having cancer, but I am continually touched by those in the ped. cancer community and Jen, you’ve really made an amazing difference that makes my heart smile. Thank you!

  5. 5
    Taite says:

    The strength of this community is amazing. On race day, it is seen in the faces of those who cross the finish line. Daily, we see it in the children who are fighting for their lives and their parents, families, and friends who are on the battlefield with them. Thank you for your continued strength and perseverance in leading Team Tiny Oranges!

  6. 6
    Michele says:

    “You are strong” is a great slogan. Happy to be part of the team and getting this perspective every day is a great reminder of how much we should cherish our friends and family every day.

  7. 7
    Suzanne says:

    Wow. Inspiring!!!! Thanks for the awesome message, Jen,

  8. 8

    I thought of this post this morning as I ran up Seapoint towards home. And I cried as I ran. Because of you I am running and running for something really good and important. I love you for that. xoxoxo

  9. 9
    Kristin says:

    I think our team motto is You Are Strong but Jen, your motto is most definitely, You Are Awesome!! I am proud to be on this team with you, running/walking to give pediatric cancer a strong reminder that strength comes in mumbers and one day very soon it will meet an adversary it cannot take down, US!!!

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