Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I am SO lucky!!!

I married in to an incredible family! When Joe and I were dating and I learned more and more about his family, I knew that they were incredible for so many reasons. And as time has progressed I’ve learned that they are even more incredible than I originally thought. But this weekend, they proved that they are even MORE incredible than that!!! Now that’s incredible!!!

On Sunday morning at 7 am, in the pouring rain and freezing wind, 4 of Joe’s sisters and 1 cousin stood outside waiting to run the Amica Half Marathon as “Team Joella.” Several months ago the sisters got together and decided that they wanted to raise awareness for EB and raise money for Debra. So they started training. They already pull off the amazing feat of balancing family and work, but in the mix they somehow found time to train to run 13.1 miles.

From the beginning Joe and I were touched and amazed at their devotion. They had weekly conference calls to touch base on training. They created and printed little cards with a picture of a butterfly on the front and on the back there was a picture of Ella and information about EB. A card was put into every bag that was given to the runners. They had shirts made that said Team Joella in black and purple. They flew to Providence, RI from all over the country at their own expense. They used vacation days and cashed in big favors from all the husbands (who stayed home and took care of the kids). They endured stress fractures, tendonitis, and blood, sweat and tears for this race.

To say the weather was terrible would be an understatement. In fact, on the race website they had this statement, “In some of the worst imaginable running conditions, over 2,500 runners finished this year’s Amica Marathon, UnitedHealthcare Half Marathon, and Team Relay. The perseverance of all runners, volunteers and fans was truly admirable.” It was miserable weather. It was windy with pouring rain all day. The cheerleaders (myself included) were soaked and freezing, so I know the runners were too. Yet even in the rain, they proudly displayed their black Team Joella shirts and completed the half marathon.

The cheerleaders (Jenny, Sandra, Katie, Aunt Sue, Meghan (Jenny's daughter and our niece) and I) connected with the runners (Ellen, Sue, Trish, Mo and Kristin) at mile 7. We waited in the rain for about 30 minutes cheering on all the other runners. While some were completely focused and couldn’t care two licks about us being there, others waved back and seemed glad to have people cheering them on. We were standing there cheering and suddenly we saw Kristin, Joe’s cousin. We cheered her on and tried to snap a few photos, but that girl isn’t new to running marathons, so she was too fast for us. Soon the 4 sisters came around the corner. We saw the black shirts with the purple writing and knew it was Team Joella. Of course we all screamed and cheered. They ran over to us and stopped long enough for a group picture. I, of course, cried. I’m a crier…I can’t help it….it’s my spiritual gift.

After we connected with the team, we piled our soaking selves back into the car and headed to the end of the race. Katie (Joe’s sister…not to be confused with ME) and I made our way to the end of the race where we waited for the 4 sisters to arrive. This is where we connected with Janet who had left NJ at 4 am to meet us at the race. Every so often I’d see someone cross the finish line and they had that look of accomplishment on their face, then I’d think about my sisters-in-law (sister-in-laws?) and cousin and how awesome they all are…and I’d cry. Then I’d pull myself together, and someone else would cross the finish line and it started all over again. The sisters crossed the finish line standing in a line and holding hands. It was awesome! I burst into tears…what can I say.

The weekend was so much fun! With such a big family, it’s rare that we all can get together, so the Murray girls weekends are the best! I think we need to make it an annual event…although we don’t always have to include a half marathon in the mix.

Here are all my Thank Yous (in birth order):

Jenny: Thanks for driving all the way from NJ and for driving the rest of us all over a strange town.

Sandra: Thanks for coming with Jenny and leaving your kids to endure a night of poker and for sharing a bed with me…I hope I didn’t snore.

Ellen: Thanks for arranging everything and for coming all the way from CA to join us and for picking me up at the airport.

Mo: Thanks for pushing through your tendonitis (I think that’s what you have) and for sharing a bed with me…I hope I didn’t kick you.

Sue: Thanks for treking all the way from CO and coming back after a brief hiatus to finish strong.

Katie: Thanks for laughing hysterically with me the night before the race and for ringing the cow bell even though your arms got tired.

Trish: Thanks for being a great hostess and for making us dinner and breakfast and for listening to me cry. (I have to put in a very special thanks to Phil, Trish’s boyfriend, for putting up with all of us all weekend and driving us all over creation. Not a lot of guys could have done what he did.)

Meghan: Thanks for showing us all your fun dances and for making great posters to cheer the sisters on…P.S. Stop growing up so fast.

Kristen: Thanks for stepping in at the eleventh hour to run and for keeping me company at the airport.

Aunt Sue: Thanks for being a great cheerleading partner and for giving me a glimpse at Grandma Rose.

Janet: Thanks for raising the most amazing 8 kids that I have ever met! Then again, I shouldn’t be surprised…they have an amazing example to follow.

I also have to give a special thanks to all the husbands who spent the past 3 months putting up with their wives training, buying new shoes and running clothes, and for taking care of the house/kids/dogs/etc while we were away having a ton of fun.

And of course I have to thank my wonderful husband for taking care of Stinkerella while I was out having fun with his family.

And I can't forget to thank Ella for being an amazing little girl.

See…I told you they were incredible.


ValerieO said...

Ok - I can totally see how you would cry at the race because as I was just reading your blog I was a lot teary eyed. You have been blessed with an awesome family!! I'm so glad you have them! That was just a great story!!

Anonymous said...

Go Murray Girls!!! So inspiring!!!

Emilie (Ellen's Colgate friend and a hug Murray fan!)

Gale Alexander said...

This makes me so sorry that we didn't give you and Curby more siblings!!

FinsUp said...

What a wonderful family and a testament to the power of love!

boltefamily said...