If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me WHY I run, I could retire now, move up to the mountains, and spend the rest of my days chasing deer and chomping on trail mix.  I don’t really have an answer, but I can say with confidence that it has a lot to do with family.  I started running in my high school years as a desperate attempt to earn my summer swim suit and spend time with my dad.  When we ran, my fears about the future, my teenage body issues, and most importantly, my worries about Dad’s cancer scare melted away. We were strong and healthy, and it was just the two of us and the trail even if just for an hour.

Dad- the one to blame for my lifelong addiction to this sport.

Running has been the thread that ties my family together.  My sister started running shortly after I did, and my favorite marathon memory is watching Nellie cross the finish line of her first marathon and hanging the medal around her neck.  Sure, I lace up my shoes for a number of reasons, but not a single run or race passes where I don’t think about my family.

This March, Nellie sent me the news that her boyfriend Travis had lost his brother.  Earlier that morning, Ben had shot himself in his apartment, taking his own life.  We were shocked, surprised and confused.  It broke my heart, not only to know of the pain Ben must have endured, but for the family and brother he left behind.  It hit too close to home, and I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without Nellie.

Travis’s loss was a reminder to not take a day, a breath, a step for granted.  If I’m lucky, I’ll be blessed enough to explore the Rockies, Europe, the Cascades, the Pacific Coast Trail and beyond with my best friends in tow.   Nellie and Dad will be here to make memories with me for many more years.  Travis and his family will never be able to create memories with Ben again.

I did my research, and as it turns out,  suicide takes over 1 Million lives each year, making it the 13th leading cause of death worldwide.  Even more staggering, the National Safety Council ranks suicide as the 6th largest killer in the US.  Depression and anxiety are treatable and most often curable diseases with heartbreaking effects.  Increased resources for treatment and prevention can save lives and prevent the pain and suffering of the families left behind in mourning.  I talked with friends, and a surprising number of them had experienced suicide-related loss as well.  I wanted to do something to contribute, so we can stop losing the people we love most to this ugly disease.

At The SF Marathon in less than 6 weeks, I will run the marathon twice, starting at midnight.  I’m running the 52.4 in honor of Ben for the SF Suicide Prevention Center, to help raise awareness of depression, mental illness, and suicide.  52 will be my longest, most challenging run ever, and I’m nervous about the pavement, running through the night, and how I’ll hold up on the hills.  But, I’ll finish the 2nd 26.2 with Nellie as a reminder and celebration of how precious life and family are.

Want to help?  You can donate to the SF Suicide Prevention Center by clicking here.  Also, to my running friends out there, I’m on the look-out for someone to run 7-ish miles in the middle of the night, to make sure I’m not eaten alive by the buffalo in Golden Gate Park.  Send me a note, fax, text, carrier pigeon, or smoke signal if you want to run with me!

**If you’re donating, please be patient with the page.  It just went up and your donation might not show up right away.  Just click submit and email the site admin if you have any issues.  Thank you SO much!

SF Marathon 2011 with Nellie- Hopefully we'll both be smiling like this in a few weeks!