My mom and I started the race together and we would run together up until mile 13. Every mile I'd yell the name of the person I was running for and she would start praying for that person. Here are the people that got me through Miles 9-13.

Mile 9: Emily Huntington- I never had the opportunity to meet Emily, but if I did, I think we would have share many laughs while eating cupcakes. I'm friends with Emily's mom, aunts, uncles, grandmother and friends. At the age of 18 on December 30, 2011 Emily died texting and driving. A tragic loss of a beautiful life gone too soon.

The life she lived, even though short, inspires me. The pictures I see of her are always full of life, smiles, silliness and fun! Emily had a motto, "Live, Laugh, Learn."

What a great motto for all of us to live by.

During the rmiles9-13ace there were thousands of signs. Most were hysterical and made me laugh. But one sign at mile 9, the mile I was running for Emily, said, "You live an amazing life."

Immediately tears streamed down my face. It was as if God had placed that sign in the perfect spot so it would be on her mile. Even though I never met Emily I thought, "That is something Emily would say."

Emily..."You lived an amazing life."

Mile 10: Jodi Comer- Jodi is Emily's mother. What she has been through over these past several years in unimaginable. Yet through this tragedy she has been on a mission to make sure other teens and adults don't make the same mistake Emily made.

Besides public education and awareness on the importance of not texting and driving, Jodi started a Pay it Forward campaign in memory of Emily. She had business cards printed with pictures of Emily that shares her story on one side and then the other side states, "I am paying it forward. Please do not text and drive. Please wear your seat belt."

It's a way to pay it forward, but also share Emily's story and to encourage others not to text and drive. Jodi has no doubt saved countless lives and thousands of people have benefit from random acts of kindness in memory of Emily. When something bad happens, we can't change the past, but we can decide how to make a difference moving forward.

Mile 11: Harold Welter-I met Harold eight years ago when he called me to get him organized (I'm a professional organizer). And all these years later we are still working together in various capacities. In his seventies he isn't losing steam. He has been broadcasting radio for over 40 years, he serves his community and church in various capacities and has been married for over 50 years. What inspires me about Harold is his age is just a number. I don't think he is ever going to retire. He's always working to improve himself. He is constantly dreaming and pursuing his dreams. Every time I meet with him he teaches me that no matter the obstacles that come our way, we figure out how to work through them and move on. Our dreams don't die when things get tough, sometimes they get slowed down, but dreams can always be picked back up and accomplished.

Mile 12: Coach Bullock: Coach Bullock was my cross country coach at Taylor University. He had an impact on me that few in my life have. Yes, there are many people that come and go in our lives and many make an impact. But there are those special few that make such a significant impact that no matter where you are, how old you are or what you do, they will always be there in your thoughts, be reflected in how you make decisions and in your heart. Coach Bullock is one of those people. He was there with me day one when I stepped on campus at Taylor University, he was there when I suffered heartbreaking injuries, he was there with me on my wedding day and he was with me on my marathon. He was a marathoner. I'm sad he isn't around to see me accomplish this goal but I know he was looking down on me smiling.

He wasn't only an amazing coach but he was a great friend who expected a lot of us as runners and as Christian women. I think what I liked most about Coach was that he never made a decision for us as a runners. He always gave us choices, the choice to work hard or be lazy or the choice to run extra miles or quit for the day. He made you want to work hard without ever raising his voice or being negative. He was an encourager. I worked hard because the last thing I wanted to do was disappoint Coach. He would have been so proud of me on Sunday.

Mile 13: Brett Stowasser: Brett's the husband of a friend of mine from high school. I don't think I've ever met him, but when he was diagnosed with colon cancer I started following his journey on Caring Bridge.

Through his journey there were three things that stuck out to me about Brett. (1) He was very positive. A positive attitude, no matter what you're going through, seems to get you through a little easier. I'm not saying the struggle is going to go away, but you have a CHOICE in how you're going to deal with the challenge. I loved his positive attitude and figured if he could be positive through 12 rounds of chemo I could for 26 miles. (2) He focused on, in his words, "the light at the end of the tunnel." He acknowledged what he was dealing with on a daily basis, but he set his sights forward. Many times it's hard to see the end, but the more we focus on it, sometimes it's easier to get through the present. And (3) He was thankful. In almost every post he gave gratitude and was thankful for the support of his friends, coworkers, family and most importantly his wife and daughter. No matter what we are going through, good or bad, but especially the hard times, we need to be thankful. The hard times are what make us stronger. They make us appreciate the good times.

Next time you're going through a difficult time emulate Brett by being positive, focus on the future and be thankful!

At this point I was at the half way mark of the marathon. At first it was a bit deflating thinking, oh my gosh...I have to do that again? But then I immediately changed my thinking. I've made it half way! I'm on the backside now. It's the FINAL COUNTDOWN! And I would start picking off miles one at a time.

If you missed 1-4: Here's the link

If you missed 5-8: Here's the link

Thanks for following me on my journey!

Be Bold. Dream Big. Bless Others.

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