About 3 years ago I started my journey as a “real runner”. I have always liked to run but very short distances. In high school I ran 100 meters and in college I would jog to keep my weight down. I always watched the larger marathons on TV from Chicago, New York and Boston but thought…yeah, that is not for me. In October 2013 my best friend Manu and I watched the Chicago Marathon on TV. I cried because I always wanted to do it but thought I couldn’t, it’s 26.2 miles. As I sat there in self-pity and tears, he stared at me with a blank look and walked out the room and said “just do it” for crying out loud.
LOL! That was the trick. I thought why not. If I fail I fail but at least I tried, then I could go back to say “I told you so”. After many weeks of researching races, shoes, training books, and running gear I signed up for my 1st marathon 2011 Huntington Beach, Surf City on Super Bowl Sunday.
Manu was right by my side ordering movies on TV to get me inspired, buying racing gear and listening to my stories about how many miles I ran, how cold it was to train in Chicago winter, how bad my feet and knees hurt, and all the gritty details. Manu and I made plans to fly into LAX to make it happen. On Feb 6, 2011 I was officially a marathoner at 4 hours and 54 minutes. I remember crossing the finishing line and seeing Manu’s smiling face. I was so so happy. That horrible Charlie-horse since mile 23 was gone, I didn’t feel nauseous and the cuts from my race day shirt on my back didn’t feel so bad…it was officially the happiest day of my life. Manu supported me and made my dreams coming true.
Manu continued to support me through 5 more marathons over the last 4 years. As was preparing for Chicago Marathon Oct 12, 2014 (2) days before his birthday when I was informed by Manu’s best friend that Manu passed away from a blood clot. I knew he had issues in the past but he was 36 years young so I didn’t take it that serious. His last blood clot was misdiagnosed as a hamstring pull and on September 28, 2014 he passed away at the hospital. My heart was officially broken, as my best friend who I love with all my heart went to be with the Lord.
Manu was buried on October 10, 2014. I ran the marathon in his honor on October 12, 2014, the hardest thing I have done in my life. Running with a broken heart is 10X more difficult that running with stress fractures, sore knees and medical issues. Instead of looking for his beautiful face at the finish line, I looked at the heavens and said “we did it”! October 14, 2014 was his birthday. I went to his grave site with my marathon bib and knew that I wanted to make a difference.
I’m hosting the 1st Annual Stop the Clot Chicago 5K on Mother’s Day May 10, 2015. It’s to honor Manu Ajamu Williams. I’m working with the National Blood Clot Alliance, a charity that supports awareness and research of blood clots.
Come run/walk with us this spring if you live in or around Chicago so we can STOP THE CLOT.
To find out more (including registering for Stop the Clot Chicago 5K), please visit: //www.stoptheclotchicago.com/