Thursday, March 28, 2013

Today, I am angry.

I'm seeing the color red today. And that's all that I see.

They released new information about the shooter and his motives today.  I'm not going to go into detail here because it's a sensitive topic and I don't want anyone to read something that may upset them.  I shouldn't have read it either.  But the need for answers and the pull towards wanting some sort of clue as to why this awful thing happened is crucial to my personal healing I suppose.

I was reading an article about Catherine Hubbard's family just last night.  The circumstances they were in the day they found out that Catherine wouldn't be coming home tore me in two.  Catherine's father was so far away the day of the shooting.  He was in another country.

Can you imagine?  I'm crying all over again just thinking about how badly my heart would have exploded on the spot if I had received the news that he did and if I were that far away.  How much worse could that situation possibly have gotten?

All for a coward with a gun.  How much less of a man could you possibly be?  How much less of a human being?  To walk into an elementary school, loaded down with more guns than the SEAL team did when they went after Bin Laden- to gun down babies and unarmed women. 

And a mother that turned a blind eye to all the warning signs and continued to supply the weapons that would do so much harm. 

What were you thinking?

I was not in your shoes.  I have no right to judge.  But it doesn't stop me from wanting to judge.  To yell and scream and curse both your names.  And to hope that your final judgement is fitting.

I'm so very angry today.  And so very sad. 

I'm going to require some very large and long hugs from my little boy tonight.  Do the same with your babies please.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Race Reflections: Dawn Hochsprung

This past Saturday is going to be one of those days in my life I will never forget.  15,000 people showed up in Hartford for the Sandy Hook Run for the Families in a very powerful statement of love.  If you've never seen what 15,000 people look like in an organized block, please let me help you visualize:

It needs to be said how outstanding the management of this event was.  I expected horrific traffic getting into the city, impossible parking situations, massive lines of people trying to get tshirts, bib numbers, water, food, etc. 

Not the case at all.

The Hartford Marathon Foundation has this stuff down to a science.  And I was floored by how flawlessly the day went. 

It was a really cold day, but spirits were high and the love was strong.  Kind words were spoken by all and strangers made connections with strangers while waiting for the race to begin.  Almost everyone donned a tshirt with the name of a specific person we lost on December 14th.  Teams were organized to honor those we lost.  It was over whelming and very emotional. 

I have to make a confession here.  I did not run this event.  I had to walk it.  I think you can get an idea as to why that is, by looking at the photo above.  You try running in that mass of bodies!  HA!  Unless you made your way to the front of the pack, running was nearly impossible.  But I really enjoyed walking the course with a group of my friends.  It was a nice change of pace....literally. 

In the down time before the race kicked off, my friends and I were warming up in a near by building.  While we were standing there, a woman walked up to me, touched my arm and said, "I'm so sorry for your loss."  She was referring to my shirt and how it said, "Running in Memory of Dawn Hochsprung" on the back.  She assumed, as so many do at my races, that I was personally connected to the individual named on my shirt.  It's very hard to explain to someone in a fleeting moment that I do not actually know these people, so I always respond with a simple, "thank you". 

What I wanted to say on Saturday, had I been able to steal a few minutes of that sweet woman's time, would have been this:

"I'm sorry for your loss as well.  We all lost something on December 14th.  We lost children that held so much promise.  Educators that excelled at helping young people expand their minds and who guided them towards becoming the people that they are going to be.  We lost a piece of human dignity and respect for life.  We lost a principal that loved her school family so much that she ran towards emanate danger in an attempt to keep them safe."

I marvel at Dawn Hochsprung's strength and courage.  Witnesses have explained that when the first shots rang out in the school, Dawn was in her office.  She could have barricaded herself behind the door.  But she didn't.  She sprinted from her office and lunged herself at the shooter in an attempt to disarm him before he could do any harm.  She was fatally shot in her attempt.  But even though she was not able to over take the gun man, she managed to save countless lives by turning on the intercom system in an effort to warn the teachers.  Through the intercom system, teachers overheard screaming and crying.  Bullets being shot off.  The early warning gave Victoria Soto the time she needed to hide her children in the closet of her room and offered her the chance to develop a reason for their absence from the classroom when the shooter forced his way into her classroom.  It gave Janet Vollmer, the time she needed to lock the doors to her Kindergarten classroom, draw the blinds, and usher the children to a safe corner of the room where she read stories to them in order to keep them calm and reassured. 

Dawn may not have been able to save everyone in Sandy Hook Elementary that day, but she certainly did not die in vain. We will never know exactly how many lives she saved that day.  Her bravery will never be forgotten. 

Newtown has ensured that her legacy will live on and that the things that she stood for in life will continue to be fought for.  As a community we will be reminded of her every day.  This message is on every single school bus in Newtown:

Be kind to each other, each and every day.  If not for yourself, for Dawn.


Here is the very brave Dawn Hochsprung.  The 7th Sandy Hook angel that I have now run for:

Full race album available on the facebook page 26 in 2013 for Sandy Hook:


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Race Reflections: Madeleine Hsu

Hi.  I've been hiding from my blog this week.  A few of you have noticed my absence and have asked why I haven't written about my race for Madeleine yet.  The truth is, I'm having a really hard week...anger wise.  I'm so angry that this happened.  Most of the time, it feels so surreal that something this horrific happened in my home town that it's easy to pretend that it didn't happen at all.  Most of the time.  But when I showed up to my race on Sunday, one of the people that organized the Warren Street St. Patrick's Day Classic was waiting for me.  She knew that I would be there that day and found me when I was signing in at the check in table so that she could say hello.  We spoke about Madeleine.  How she looked like a doll in all of her photographs.  Such a perfect little face.  And it stirred up not just the sadness for her loss, but the anger for it as well.

I'm so unbelievable angry.  And that's why I've been staying away.  Because I don't want to talk about how badly I want to physically hurt the person that took Madeleine away from whatever she was going to become in this life.  Or how tempting it would be right now to hurl expletives into the sky and smash my keyboard into the desk. 

I will never do him the honor of ever speaking his name.

So here I am, eating granola.  Listening to Sarah McLachlan on my iPhone.  Trying to control my vocabulary and focus on that gorgeous little girl that I ran for this weekend. 

Such a beautiful face.  What was she going to be?  Who was she meant to marry?  What was her great contribution to society going to be? 

Would she have come home one day with pink hair just to test her parents boundaries?  Started a rock band?  Or would she have fallen in step and gone the straight A's route and lived to shine in the classroom?  Not that she couldn't have done both....if given the chance.

I felt Madeleine with me on Sunday.  In the same sort of way that I felt Charlotte.  No strange flash or vision.  But on my last mile I was talking to her in my head and I just felt a shift in my energy level.  Felt a lightness and a push to go faster, run harder.  Us girls need to stick together.  So I thanked her, out loud, as I crossed the finish line. 

"Thank you Madeleine.  I needed that extra push."


Here is Madeleine Hsu.  The sixth angel that I have now run for.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Race Announcement: Dawn Hocksprung

On Saturday March 23rd, I will be running the Sandy Hook Race for the Families run out of Hartford, CT.

This one took me a while to decide on.  It's such a huge event.  The foundation that organizes the Hartford Marathon every year is donating their resources in order to put this on. Many of the graduating classes from Newtown High School are returning to walk/run this together as a team.  I will be reuniting with many of my Class of '99 classmates.

I had to think very hard about who to run this one for.  I chose Dawn because she was the leader of Sandy Hook Elementary School.  And she died so bravely trying to intervene before any of the children were hurt. 

I'm looking forward to seeing some old friends and faces that I haven't seen in years.  But I know that it is going to be an emotionally draining afternoon.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Race Reflections: Ana Marquez-Greene

I chose the ShamRock and Roll for Ana for a reason.  She was born to parents who are deeply connected to the music scene and, from what I have read and seen in video clips, Ana seemed to have been given the gift of music directly through her DNA.  I've seen video's of her singing that will dissolve you into a million pieces.  So pure and so joyful.  The love of music just seeps out of her and it's impossible to miss. 

But what I didn't know when I signed up for this race, which was based out of New Haven, CT, was that Ana's father apparently spent quite a good deal of time playing music in the areas clubs.  That was a happy coincidence for me to discover on Sunday.  I felt like it was a tribute to her father and her all at the same time.

When I look at Ana pictures, it's impossible to comprehend that she's gone.  Her spirit and personality literally jump off the page when I see her.  That beautiful hair, gorgeous smile, and a personality that you can just sense through looking at her eyes.  It makes me sad that I didn't know her.  Like I have missed out on an incredible honor. 

As a Newtown resident, I find it really hard to not think about the fact that there is a very good chance that I passed one of these children in town at some point.  Ana could have been in the line over from me at the grocery store one day, just waiting in line with her mother.  Jack could have been playing baseball at the fields in Fairfield Hills where I've walked my dog a million times and where I always stop off to watch the game for a few minutes before continuing on.  So close, yet so far.  Whether we know it or not, all of our lives are intertwined in some way or another.  We all impact each other directly or indirectly.  And one of the legacy's that these 26 beautiful people are going to leave behind is that we all will stop for a moment when we are tempted to be short tempered to a stranger.  Take that extra second to realize that every person we meet is fighting their own private battle.  And take a note from Ana to allow time in life to appreciate the music of the world around us. 

A small example of yet another way these loved one's will never be forgotten is that I will never be able to look at my Kindle again without thinking of Ana.  I read that her mother had bought her a Kindle the day before the shooting.  It was the thing that Ana wanted most for Christmas.  Every time I pick up my e-reader, I will think of Ana.  I will think of that personality that burst off the page.  And I will feel a twinge of regret that I never was privileged enough to see that spark in person. 

I'm emotional thinking about this little girl.  Do me a favor and listen to your favorite song today and sing it out loud at the top of your lungs in her honor.  If she were here, I bet she would be doing something just like that.


This is Ana.  The fifth angel that I have now run for.

Full race album available on the facebook page: 26 in 2013 for Sandy Hook.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Race Announcement: Madeleine F Hsu

On March 17th, I will be running the Warren Street St. Patricks Day Classic for Madeleine F Hsu in Fairfield, CT.