by Michelle Diehl
The first time I crossed the finish line of The Community First Fox Cities Marathon Presented by Miron Construction was in 2008. I’ll never forget it. The accomplishment of my first 26.2 miles was incredible, but that’s not what makes it one of my most memorable running moments.
I’ll remember that moment forever because Kaden was by my side. My son, only 4-years-old at the time, met me in that last stretch of the race and crossed the finish line with me.
Kaden and I ran together a lot – it was a hobby we both enjoyed. We’d go up to 5 miles together, and if he wasn’t running, he’d be alongside me on his bike while I ran.
I was an avid runner until 2014 when my whole world came crashing down. Kaden died unexpectedly when he was just 10-years-old. He got sick with what we thought was the flu, but 31 hours later he became an angel.
Kaden died from viral myocarditis, a disease marked by inflammation and damage to the heart muscle.
I stopped running.
I had too many other things to care about – like my family, my daughter, who was almost 7-years-old had just lost her brother. I just couldn’t see how I could commit the time to training for long-distance races.
But I was stuck in a rut that I couldn’t escape from. I was putting on as happy of a face as I could muster, but I wasn’t happy. I needed to run to care for myself.
Running became my form of therapy.
I talk to Kaden when I run. He was my biggest cheerleader, and still is. Running makes me feel close to him – like he’s still right alongside me.
I haven’t run the Fox Cities Marathon since that race in 2008, but this year I’ll be back, and I have my sights set on a big goal: qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
Running has brought me joy and has helped me heal, and I know I won’t be crossing the finish line in September alone.