Welcome to the Team Avery Website!

In the spring of 2008 my then 19-month old daughter Avery lost most of her sight to congenital cataracts.
The Delta Gamma Center for Visual Impairments in St. Louis was there for our family in our greatest time of need; teaching us how to alter our lives to incorporate a visually impaired child. To help them continue helping other families like us, we have formed Team Avery/ Team Margaret. ***To read about Avery's story, go to the Archives and visit Blog "Avery's Story" from January 24th, 2010.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why I Run

My husband likes to say that I Run Away from my Problems…literally.  He’s right.  But I haven’t always been this way.  Granted, I’ve always run (although as I got older I would consider myself more of a “jogger” than a “runner”).  In high school I did track, in college I ran for my Crew Team, in grad school I did local road races, and after that I just ran to keep the pizza from catching up with me.  When I got married I pretty much stopped all together -  if you know my husband Brian, you can understand why.  In Hunting-Gathering Times, my husband would have just starved rather than put forth the energy to search for food.  He takes the elevator to go DOWN one floor.  Bottom line:  the man does NOT enjoy physical exertion.

I’ve been running seriously for about a year now.  Currently I run half-marathon races, (which is a fantastic distance for women with kids) and my friend Ali and I are determined to do a full marathon in the next year.  Honestly though, I had not run much before I began training for the Delta Gamma Center’s Run for Sight last year.  All of my personal pride from my running success has come about because of Delta Gamma. Now stop groaning!  This is not another attempt to get you to join TEAM AVERY (yes it is, yes it is!!!!! Join TEAM AVERY!)  Just listen to my story. Who knows, you might be tempted to lace up your shoes and go for a jog…

Like I said, it was preparing for last year’s Run for Sight 5K that made me start running again.  As illustrious captain of the 4-person TEAM AVERY team (ahem, composed of 2 adults and 2 babies; we were quite a force to be reckoned with), I did not want to embarrass myself by not being able to complete a 3.1 mile run.  My husband is perfectly fine with his couch potato-ness…I dare say he revels in it.  Then again, the man can put in and take out kidneys, so does it matter?  I still haven’t accepted the fact that I’m an “old” mom of two, so I was out to prove something…namely, that I was still an athlete.

Let me preface this by saying that I AM actually a very fit person!  I did the elliptical before, during, and after both my pregnancies.  I’m not saying I made it difficult nor that I didn’t slack off and read gossip magazines, but I got my lazy honkus in there.  However, the first two weeks of running about killed me.  I would run my 3.1 miles and feel like puking the entire time.  Sometimes I took the double jogger out and ran, along to the chiding of Avery yelling “GO FASTER MOMMY!”  (I confess, I did not have motherly thoughts about my daughter when she screamed at me like Jillian from The Biggest Loser.)  

After a couple of weeks that can only be described as sheer misery, the running became easier.  And then I noticed something.  While the minutes passed and I jogged away, I started to feel lighter.  Not physically: emotionally.  It was like all the anger, the sadness, the loneliness and the fear began to lift off my shoulders.  For the first time since Avery’s diagnosis, I didn’t think.  I didn’t feel.  All that was there were my arms pumping, my breath puffing, and my legs striking the pavement.  For a small moment I felt like “Erin” again, the girl I was before the kids, before the diagnosis, before the sadness.  The girl I was before life got hard.  It was wonderful.

Reality was waiting for me at the end of my run, and life certainly didn’t get any easier.  But on that run I finally found a way of coping with it…and accepting it.  A few weeks ago we found out that Avery has one, possibly three new neurological issues going on…before I give a definite label, we are undergoing a bunch of neurological and genetic testing.  It was just a heartbreaking day, followed by a night of worry and no sleep.  That morning, I just ran.  I ran for as hard and as long as I could, until my brain couldn’t think and all that was left were my arms pumping, my breath puffing, and my legs striking the treadmill.  When I finished, I was able to handle reality again.

My problems are not better or worse than anyone else’s problems.  And if I could go back, I would still beg to save my daughter from visual impairment.  But I think that you can always find sunshine in the darkness.  You may uncover a strength in yourself you didn’t know you had.  You may rediscover an old hobby. Or you may just find a way to run away from your problems…even if it’s only for an hour.