Lately

Oh, hey! Remember me?? Yeah, it’s been a minute. Sorry about that! But here I am now to give you the latest on my life. There’s a lot, but I’ll try not to ramble on too much.

School ended on May 25th. That whole month was a whirlwind. We made it through the walkout, started testing the moment we walked back into the classroom, then I had to make it through the last month of school and try to keep my students engaged, even though after testing was over they all checked out mentally. It was all insane. And to top it all off, Mustang wasn’t a good fit for me so I had to pack up my classroom in the middle of all the madness and be out on the last day of school. Whew *wipes brow. It was a lot, y’all! I was so looking forward to a new school, new city, new students, new team. And I got all of that, but it just wasn’t where I needed to be.

So here I go again, on to something new. I’ll be teaching 3rd grade at Cashion Public Schools and I’m so excited! Sitting through the interview I felt relieved, felt at peace, and knew it would be a good fit. It reminded me a lot of Maud. Small town, but a lot of energy. Everyone knows everyone. You can catch the whole town at the football games on Friday night, all your students’ parents are within a 5 mile radius, and you can catch up on the latest gossip going into the gas station on any given morning. Yeah, small towns. Gotta love ’em. But the beauty of Cashion is it’s just north of where I am currently living, so you have that small town feel right outside of the city. So no worries mom, I’m not moving any further away.

One thing I will say though is that I’m ready to feel grounded again. So will you pray for me? Pray that Cashion is a good fit. Pray that I fit in. Pray that the other teachers are accepting of new teachers coming into the district. It’s hard being the new girl, so your prayers would be greatly appreciated.

When I moved to Oklahoma City last year I was not in a good place at all. I was running from my problems to try to solve them, and we all know that you can’t run from something hoping for a quick fix. You have to face that problem head on. But that’s not what I did. I was miserable in Shawnee, y’all. Miserable. Like so miserable that I didn’t even want to leave my apartment and go to the grocery store. So what did I do? I quit my job, and planned to not go back to education (that’s funny), packed up my apartment, moved to Oklahoma City, got my job at Mustang, and started all over. Have you ever been there? So scared of the lies your brain is telling you that you don’t even know how to function? If so, you’re so not alone. Not even close. Anxiety/Depression is a silent killer, and I am just one of the many victims.

I used to not struggle with either. I used to be a free spirit that could go and do anything, be around anyone, not think before acting. But all of that changed after Bret was killed. I changed. I had to learn how to relive life. Sound familiar? Happened to you too? Know you’re not alone. And if you feel alone, I also know that pain. I know that you feel like no-one understands, or that you don’t want to burden anyone with your problems, but true friends or family, will be there to listen.

Over the past few days I have been reading ‘Girl, Wash Your Face’ by Rachel Hollis. And it has been so enlightening. Every chapter talks about a lie that Rachel has faced that has tried to hold her back from accomplishing a goal. But what is so great is she doesn’t let that lie hold her back. She keeps going, and I can so relate to that because that’s exactly how I have been trying to live my life this past year. Not letting the lies my brain festers up control my destiny. Even if I don’t want to do something, because I’d rather stay on my couch, I get up and go do whatever it is. Wanna know why? Because the lies can’t win. I am a strong woman. A warrior. Created that way because God knew He had work for me to do. And I want to be able to do that work. I want to be able to walk through the gates of Heaven and hear God say “well done, good and faithful servant.” I want to live a life that I can be proud of, and not a life that I look back on and it be filled with regrets from not acting. From not doing. From not seeking. From not trying. Even if I fail, I would rather fail knowing I tried, than to not fail because I didn’t even give life an attempt.

So with all that being said, what are your goals? What is holding you back from accomplishing them? Last night while reading Chapter 6 The Lie: No is the Final Answer Rachel asked us to write down a goal. Mine: To be successful in Arbonne. To help people live a healthier and happier lifestyle. Why? Because I believe in these products and have seen first hand this business change the lives of ordinary people just like you and me. So that would be my challenge for you today. Write down your goals, think about what is holding you back, tell those lies that they’re not true, and go out there and crush it. Crush life. Be proud of yourself. So here’s to Chapter 7 and so on and so forth. And here’s to life.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to grab life by the horns. Wanna join me? Let’s Go!

xoxo Krysten

Anybody else miss Gossip Girl? Yeah, me too.

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OKC Memorial Marathon

As I sit here on this beautiful Sunday morning, I can’t help but to be thankful. I was able to sleep in for the first time in 16 weeks. I watched church online, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. Our life is a vapor. We aren’t guaranteed the rest of today, we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, but what we do have is right now and what are we doing with it? Are we comparing ourselves to what everyone else has? Are we wishing that we could do more? Are we lonely because of a broken relationship? Well it’s as simple as this, go and do something about it. Be thankful for what you do have, because to some it’s everything they’ve ever dreamed about. Fix that broken relationship, or at least put forth the effort, because in your heart you know that you’ve done what’s right. Today, my prayer for each of you is that you can live a life that you’re proud of. Stop comparing your journey to someone else’s because you too have a purpose and no one’s story is the same.

That leads me into my next thought. When I was in attendance at the military ball Major General Thompson made a statement that has since stuck with me. He was talking about service and how people look at those in the military and ask them “why? why do you leave your family? why do you put yourself in a position to die? why? why do you do it?” and his response was “We all want to do something that we’re proud of. We want to leave a legacy and for people to remember what we did.” What a profound statement. And isn’t it true? Don’t we all want to be proud? To feel accomplished. Have a sense of satisfaction. To be the 1% that got out there and did something. Served others. Whether on the battle field, or in our own backyard.

That’s exactly what running gives me. I feel accomplished after each run. After each race. Seeing that finish line. Hearing my mom cheering for me. Wrapping my arms around the necks of my fellow runners and saying “good job!” it’s an accomplishment like no other; it wasn’t an easy journey getting there. But in the end it was all worth it.

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When I received a call from Jeffery Cooper asking me if I wanted to coach the 10-11 full marathon group, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting myself in to. I looked at the training plan like a deer in the headlights as I scrambled through my brain trying to figure out how I was going to make it through or if I could even hold myself up to such a high standard. I was a coach, and that was a big responsibility. Each week I had a group of runners depending on me to show up. To lead them through mile after mile. And I did it. I learned so much about myself, and I gained new friends that I know will last a lifetime.

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With each passing week I heard stories that inspired me. I heard stories about how the runners made it to where they are. Whether it was weight loss, wanting to try something new, graduating from the half to the full distance, wanting a new community to be apart of, or they were using running to cope with a loss. The beautiful thing was, I could relate to each of them in some way. We are all completely crazy. I’m still not sure why we run 26.2 miles for fun, but I know that each time I cross that finish line that I am apart of the 1% who decided to go for it.

Marathon week is always so anxiety driven. Not only are we worried about the weather, but we have to make sure we’re eating enough each day, drinking enough to fill up an ocean, and also trying to make it through our 9-5. Well, unless you’re a teacher than it’s 7-4. Sometimes 6 pm. You get the picture. It’s a lot for a week. Even if you have done this numerous times, like myself. The forecast was looking to be warm, which for us Okies was a little terrifying because all of our long runs were cold. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. So that was going to make the 26.2 an even bigger challenge than it already was.

I had my sites set on a 4:30. That’s been my goal since after completing my first marathon. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know that I’ve come close but hadn’t gotten it yet. I woke up at 3:50 am without my alarm marathon morning, so I knew that I was ready. A few days prior to race day I was talking to Caleb and we went over what my splits needed to be at each mile, and in the back of my mind I knew I had 4:30 in the bag if my body would cooperate with me. Mile after mile passed and I was hitting my splits. I was on target for a 4:20 and I couldn’t believe it. I made it all the way to mile 21 before I ever stopped and walked.  I felt great up until mile 22 then I got real hot. Plus, Classen is like 100 million miles long. I decided I probably needed to keep walking the water stops so that I could actually get water into my body and not just all over my face and shirt. I was still on target for a 4:21. Here came mile 23, 24, the dreaded hill on 25, then it was on to the home stretch. My mile splits had been a sub 10 towards the end, which wasn’t the plan, but dang Oklahoma you were a hot one. In the end, I finished with a time of 4:21:20 making that a 12 minute PR! Talk about feeling over the moon! And to top it all off, each member of the 10-11 full group finished. Some loved every minute of it, and some are already out for redemption. Either way, each of us can say that we did it! And that in itself is something to be proud of.

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To Red Coyote, thank you for this opportunity. Thank you for believing in me, and trusting me with your runners. It’s an experience that I will never forget, and one that I will forever be thankful for!

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Quirks

It’s a rainy Saturday morning here in Oklahoma, and as I sit drinking my coffee I had this whole Nicholas Sparks moment where I envisioned this is probably the scene he sat in while typing up all those love stories where boy meets girl, boy loves girl, girl plays hard to get, girl leaves boy, boy chases girl, happily ever after. So I figured, why not sit down and write something that has nothing to do with love. Ha!

Quirks; We’ve all got them, right? Little somethings that make you… You. I was having quite the conversation the other evening with a friend and it inspired me to share a few of my ridiculous quirks with you because with all the sadness and hate in the world, everyone deserves a laugh here and there. It’s good for the soul, ya know?? So here are 5 semi weird things about me, and if you know all 5 of these things about myself well then congratulations I think I’ll keep you around.

Humans are such a masterpiece. I know God sits up on his throne shaking his head at me 99% of the time, but ya know what.. He looked at this world and said “you know what it needs? A Krysten.” And I think that’s pretty great.

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  1. I cannot stand raw onions, tomatoes, or cucumbers. This is so known that anyone I go eat a salad with, who really knows me, could order for me while I went to the restroom. And know that I want honey mustard dressing. When I lived in Shawnee the people at Mcalister’s knew my order without me even opening my mouth. Don’t try to sneak these veggies in to anything, because trust me, I’ll know they’re there.
  2. I’m so type- a it’s not even funny. I’m a very independent person, but I don’t like to do things by myself. Most of the time. I won’t hardly do anything without a plan. Spontaneous trips are great, but where are we going to eat and what are we going to do? Anyone else with me?
  3. OCD for real. I know when anything is out of place, or if something is missing. I get on my own nerves half the time, but that’s just who I am.
  4. My closet is color coordinated and by season. My jeans are all hung the same way, and all my dresses, tops, jackets, etc. face the same direction. My sandals are all with my sandals, boots with my boots, tennis shoes with my tennis shoes. A little sister would have never stood a chance with me, because I would know if she “borrowed” something.
  5. I hate having my back rubbed when I’m upset. I am not a dog. Don’t touch me.

 

I hope you embrace your little quirks. Just be you. People will love you more because of it, and if not… you’re with the wrong people. Be with those make you belly laugh and accept you for who you are.

Love yourself, friends!

Krysten

 

Birthday Wishes

Usually when birthdays come around you’re preparing with whoever it is on how you want to celebrate, but here lately when my birthday has come around I flee. Last year I ran a marathon in Houston, and this year I did nothing. I didn’t want to do anything because it was just weird.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be older than Bret. That’s usually not possible considering he’s older than me, but that was not the case this year. When Bret was killed he was 26. On January 15th I turned 27 and that rocked my boat. I have officially been alive longer than Bret ever was. I was not happy on my birthday. I was not joyous on my birthday. All I wanted to do was cry, but I held it together for the most part.

My mom and Steve came to OKC and we shopped around a bit and went to lunch. Nothing worked out for me. Everything I wanted was sold out, or I didn’t want my mom to pay that much for a pair of leggings. And my dang crab bisque had shells in it.

Guilt. That’s a good way to describe my feelings on my birthday. I felt guilty. Why was 26 years all Bret got? How was that all of his story? Each day I wake up and still don’t understand, I never will, but I just have to trust and believe that God has a plan for all He does.

This morning I woke up to it being Bret’s birthday. This is the day, 33 years ago, that his mom, Janet, and our dad welcomed him in to the world. This is the day I was suppose to be going out and drinking a beer with him. This is the day that he is suppose to be celebrated. And he is, he is remembered and I celebrate the fact that I did have him in my life for 20 years, but each year since I must say I have been envious of Jesus getting to celebrate with him. Is that even right? To be jealous of Jesus? I’ll add that to my list of questions I have when I enter the gates of Heaven.

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Y’all, I can’t even tell you how long this month has felt. Each day since my birthday I have  dreaded this day. Scratch that, I’ve dreaded each day in January. It’s just hard. For those of you that have lost someone, you know my feelings. You know how hard anniversaries are. You know how hard birthday’s are. And I wish I could sit here and tell you they get easier, but they don’t. Each anniversary or birthday are just a reminder of Bret not being here on a day that shouldn’t be a thing, and on the day that’s suppose to be all about him. I dreaded this year so much that I’m not even at work. I took a personal day because this day is already draining enough, and I couldn’t wrap my mind around trying to meet the needs of all my students too. And that’s not fair. They deserve all of me, my best me, but today I just couldn’t do that.

Instead, I’m sipping on a cup of coffee and sharing my heart with you. But do you know what? This day is going to be okay. I’m still breathing, God found me worthy of another day, so I’m going to make the most of it.

How you ask? Well, there’s a group of people who are relying one me to get them to the finish line. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I agreed to be a coach for the Red Coyote half/full marathon training program. I just thought “yeah, I’ve ran a marathon 4 times I can do this.” but I should have known it would be more. I look forward every week to seeing my group. I look forward to hearing how their days have gone. I look forward to seeing them set new records. I look forward to being with them when they crush their long runs, and save puppies along the way (true story). I look forward to putting others before myself. I do that daily with teaching, but it’s just different in the running community. I never knew how impacted my life would be, but we are only 3 weeks in and I can already say my days are brighter thanks to God giving me the ability to run. So today, I will lace up along with 350 other runners and celebrate my brother with a beer after our 6 mile hill repeats. Thank you, Cooper.

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If you’re grieving, feeling guilty, dreading each passing day, I encourage you to find something that you’re passionate about and give it your all. Find yourself again. Don’t let the sadness of your loved one not being here own your life. There are people who are relying on you to be present, so please, be present. I know you’ve heard it a million times “That’s not what (insert name here) would want for you.” and it’s true. As bad as you want them here, they want you here too. Jordan Dooley has started a movement “Your Brokenness is Welcomed Here” and know that truth. There’s a lot of broken people in the world, myself included, and I want you to know that you’re welcome here.

Happy birthday in Heaven, Bret! I love you deeply. Until I hug you again. 

Love, Little Sis

Seasons Come and Go

Well, I have officially survived the first semester of school. I think we all made it out in one piece. All students were accounted for, and we didn’t burn down the school, so I would say that was a successful 18 weeks. Here’s to powering out some miles, taking pictures, spending time with family and friends, and gearing up for what 2018 has in store.

For many, the holidays are a dreaded time of year and I certainly am no exception. With Christmas, my birthday, and Bret’s birthday all within a few days of each other this used to be a special time for us, but now some days it seems like a nightmare. Some years are different from others. Sometimes I’m good and can power through the days only stopping to reflect during our time of prayer before a meal. But other times are dark. There have been years where it took all I had in me to get out bed to even open a present. I remember begging my mom the first Christmas without Bret if we could just leave so that we didn’t have to celebrate. Unfortunately I didn’t win that battle because we still had family. Everyone else was still present, so I had that to be thankful for, but to me it seemed like there was nothing to be thankful for because nothing seemed right. Grief is like a roller coaster ride. Some days you’re up, up, up, and feeling like you could conquer the world, and other days you’re spinning upside down and all around and don’t even know which way is up when the right comes to a stop.

Once a year, usually after Christmas, but before my birthday, Bret would come to Maud and pick me up from my mom’s and off to the city we’d go. I’d go frolicking around in The Buckle and Hollister (because those were all the rage in high school) while Bret sat out on a bench and waited to be summoned in to the store to swipe his credit card. Spoiled much? Yes, very much so. But those are the times I’ll never forget. The memories I’ll forever cherish. The items I’ll never be able to give away.

Still to this day I have Big Star and Miss Me jeans hanging in my closet, that will probably hang there until my grandchildren go through my things after I die. I have a brown North Face that I still wear on those crisp fall days; Good thing that brand never went out of fashion. I have Ed Hardey perfume, yes it’s like so old, that I’ll spritz on myself anytime I’m going to any event that Bret is the center of. Weird, yeah to most, but he gave me that perfume for my birthday so it just kind of eases my heart when I catch a drift of the scent. I have a pair of Jessica Simpson flats sitting on the top shelf in my closet that are stained, probably smell weird, and are faded, but again.. Bret bought them, so there they will remain.

Are you one of those people, too? One that just can’t let go because you feel that’s all you have left? Well honey, don’t worry because I am right there with you. I have made fun of my mom, and gone through many trash bags of things, for holding on to stuff but then I stop and look in the mirror to see I am no different. So maybe I don’t have as much “stuff”, but I still have certain items that I’ll never be able to let go of, because every time I see them I am reminded of the good ole days. The days where everything seemed to be right. Although I know it wasn’t. Funny how time will paint a certain picture in you mind. I’m 100% sure I was still fighting with Damien, because that’s what siblings do. I was probably lying to my mom about where I was actually going, because, well.. that’s what teenagers do. I’m sure our government couldn’t agree on anything. The budget was probably still terrible. War was still a thing. But what are now memories, were moments in time that I’ll forever cherish and try to etch in to the deepest part of my brain. The good times that mask out all the evil that was in the world then and is still in the world now.

It’s hard though. Trying to remember everything when life is still moving forward. New memories are made with new people and suddenly the memories you thought you would never forget are a blur. And that’s terrifying. The thought of losing Bret in my mind is crippling, and if you’ve ever lost someone so close to you I am sure you feel the same. But do you want to know the beautiful thing that I hold on to? That I cling to when I feel things can’t get any worse? Is reminding myself that Bret is with our Savior. He is sitting at the right hand of Jesus I know just saying “you’ve got this, sis.” And when you’ve got an angel like that, how on earth do you give up? Can I give you a bit of advice, to you the reader who is dying inside, has a hole in their heart, who is clinging to that last memory, who is holding on to that old t-shirt? Don’t quit. Please don’t quit. Easier said than done, I know, but know you aren’t alone. I mean, did you just read anything I wrote? I promise you’re not alone. And you’re not crazy. You’re grieving, and that’s okay. But don’t live there. Know your loved one would want more for you. (Krysten, listen to your own words.) Again, easier said than done.

If you take nothing from this post, take this.. You are loved. You matter. And you’re going to be okay.

I want to wish each of you and Merry Christmas. I hope the New Year brings you the joy that you so much deserve. Our loved ones get to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in Heaven right alongside him. Will you just close your eyes and imagine that for a moment? That’s a beautiful thing, friends.

Love you forever, brother! Love little sis ❤

Bret and Bruiser

Behind the Lens

Sorry for my absence lately. After the Marine Corps Marathon I kind of fell in to a funk about what to do with my life. The the holidays came around, then had to get back in to the groove of school. The list goes on… I will of course continue to run, but we’re winding down to the end of the semester and any teacher that reads this will feel my pain.. I’m a hot mess. What even is a schedule? I don’t know which way is up half the time. Stress is high and kids are crazy! And not to mention, last night was a super moon! And today is Monday. Not a good mix.

A few weeks ago I was at dinner with Ashley and we were talking about how I needed a hobby that maybe wasn’t so time-consuming. A hobby that would get me out of the house, but still be around people. I have always loved photography and when I found a good deal on a camera I couldn’t pass it up. So, into the photography world I jumped this past weekend. The King family was so gracious to be my guinea pigs. When you have the sweetest family to work with, with the most adorable girls, the pictures may not be perfect but those qualities make up for the imperfections! I could not believe the response I received when I said I was jumping into this gig, so thank you all for your support!

This past weekend was one for the books, and I’m so thankful for those I got to share it with. New people were introduced to Arbonne, laughs were shared, food was eaten, pictures were taken, and shopping was done.. Here’s to another opportunity and new doors opening.

Enjoy a few more photos of Aimee and Keith’s sweet family!

Email krysten_isenhower@yahoo.com for prices and to schedule your session!

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The littlest one was having a moment. Mom, who does this remind you of??

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Marine Corps Marathon

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I have already fully prepared myself for this blog post to sound like an acceptance speech for an academy award, and I’m quite alright with that. I can’t not be apart of a weekend with wear blue: run to remember and not be thankful! This past weekend was one I will never forget. Although most of you were not there with me, hopefully it’ll be like you were through my words and pictures! I hope you enjoy reading about my weekend, as much as I am going to enjoy bringing it to life through this post.

Friday, October 20th 

I stated in previous posts, and Instagram, that I had a lot of anxiety about this race. Particularly I had a lot of anxiety about where I was going to stay. Prior to race weekend I had completely different plans than the ones that were put in to play, but God had a way of working everything out. So there’s absolutely no way that I can write about this weekend without first giving a shoutout to Candice Urban. I reached out on the wear blue Facebook page asking if anyone had room in their hotel for little ole me, and without hesitation Candice replied back to my post and said she did along with her sisters Theresa and Robyn. I am so unbelievably thankful for your willingness to let a total stranger enter into your life for the weekend. I will never be able to repay you for your kindness! D.C. literally would not have been possible without you!

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My alarm went off at 4:30 AM. My bags were packed, I started my coffee, grabbed a banana and a protein bar and was out the door. Luckily OKC airport is small because by the time I had parked, chased the shuttle around the parking lot, checked my bag, and went through security my flight was already boarding. Take off time was at 6:00 and I arrived at my gate at 5:50. Not stressful at all… At 6:40 AM we landed in Dallas where I switched planes, then it was a 2 1/2 hour flight to D.C. Did I mention that I had anxiety? Yeah, the whole flight. I am not a calm person and all I could think about was the 26.2 miles that I had to run, and I didn’t even know the excitement that was still in store for me.

I landed in D.C. around 11:30 AM. Candice, Robyn, and Theresa landed at 12:05 so it worked out PERFECT! Once we all had our bags and were checked in to our room off to the expo we went. If you’ve never been to a marathon expo, you have got to go! So start looking at race calendars and get on that, would ya?? I promise you won’t regret it! There’s so much energy that fills the room that you can’t help but be ecstatic! Our first stop was the wear blue booth because obviously they’re our favorite non-profit. While I’m picking on myself and pointing out my flaws, let me go ahead and add to the list that I’m also oblivious to things at times. I picked up the post card that was laying on the table and flipped it over to see my picture and said “Hey, that’s me!” and in return the volunteer working the booth said “wait a minute, I’ve seen that picture somewhere else.” thinking to myself, yes probably on the wear blue page. And I’m not kidding a light bulb came on right above his head and he said “No, it’s right there!” I followed his finger to where he was pointing and I had a complete freak out! My picture from the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon was blown up and made in to a poster for the wear blue booth at the Marine Corps Marathon expo! Say what??? Someone pinch me! I immediately had to get everyone’s attention around me, because everyone needed to know that that was ME! Thanks, Lisa 😉 posed for a few pictures with my adorning fans, then off to wandering around we went.

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After the expo was the Gold Star Dinner, which Krista Simpson Anderson with the Unquiet Professional put in to motion and it was beautiful! She always does such a wonderful job at making sure the Gold Star family members are flawlessly taken care of. At the dinner I was reunited with a few of my favorite people including a fellow Gold Star Athlete, Susan Cotti! I had the privilege of meeting Susan in San Diego when we were selected to be apart of the Gold Star Race Program. Such a treat, she is. At this point my heart was about to explode, but at the same time I felt so much peace. Do you have those moments in your life? Where you literally cannot complain about a single thing, you’re completely content with the people you’re around, and the setting in which you’re in? Well that’s where I was, and that’s where I stay when I am with wear blue. I cannot speak enough good words about this organization. To be a Gold Star Family member is not easy, but when we see our loved ones being remembered in such a beautiful way, you know that their sacrifice will never be forgotten. When you’re apart of a community that runs to remember the service and sacrifice of America’s fallen it makes those hard days just a little bit easier, because you know that even on your worst day that you have people ready to take those purposeful steps with you and see you through. Lisa Hallett, I’m sure I speak for more than myself when I say thank you for bringing wear blue: run to remember to life. Without the sacrifice of your beloved John and your efforts for wanting to keep his memory alive wear blue wouldn’t have been possible. You have touched the lives of thousands. You have saved the lives of thousands. You have given hope to the lives of thousands. You inspire me to be a better person and to never wear any other athletic brand than Lululemon. Unfortunately my bank account isn’t as thankful for you as I am, but who needs money anyways?

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Saturday, September 21st

Can I just start out by saying that I hate the metro? I am so not cut out for big city livin’. This small town girl from Oklahoma will stick to the little cities, not major cities like D.C. Thank you to the random strangers that made sure I got on the correct color train so that I wouldn’t end up in China. Goodness. Note to self: Stick to Uber. Always. Anyways.. enough about that.

9:00 AM was the shake-out run. It’s not everyday that you get to start out your run at the Lincoln Memorial, but on this day we did. *Insert hair flip* a wear blue volunteer came up to me, Cindi, and said “are you the girl that’s on the poster at the expo?” why yes, yes indeed I am. Y’all, not kidding, celebrity status. Okay, maybe I am kidding. She was only trying to figure out my name because Kandi wanted us to lead a group of runners for the shake-out run to ensure no one would get lost. (Brad and Kandi, if you’re reading this I have dirt on both of you so just hush!) We indeed did not get lost and all made it back in one piece. Once the sun came out we were all able to feel our fingers again and it was an awesome run down and around the Washington Monument and back to the Lincoln Memorial.

While we were in the area we visited the Vietnam Memorial. It was during this time that I met my boyfriend, a WWII vet. Cutest guy I’ve ever seen. I didn’t want to do much else after our few visits so after a quick trip to Lululemon with Nikki it was nap time for me.

Nikki was one of the Gold Star Athletes chosen for the Marine Corps Marathon. She lost her brother in 2003. It is always nice to meet other gold star siblings because we are usually the forgotten ones of the family. In the end, Nikki completed MCM and she crushed it! Way to go!

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Other than the shake-out run, my favorite part of Saturday was that Chelsea and Dusty Jenkins came in to town. After I found out my mom wasn’t going to be able to make the trip I reached out to Chelsea to ask her to hold Bret’s flag at the blue mile. Along with Susan, and 5 other runners, I also met Chelsea and Dusty in San Diego. They are two of the coolest people you will ever meet, so when Chelsea agreed to hold Bret’s flag you better believe I was happy as could be. Once they arrived in D.C. we met up with Brad and Kandi for dinner. Pasta of course, because tomorrow we run. After many laughs and great conversation it was off to bed for all of us because 4:45 comes super early.

Race Day! Sunday, October 22nd

 

I sat my alarm with plenty of time to wake up, get around, and make it to the circle of remembrance by 7:15. Or so I thought… Sorry, Brad, but you’re going straight under the bus. We had plans to meet in the hotel lobby at 6:45 to catch the shuttle and head to the start line. What we didn’t plan for was the line that would be wrapped through the lobby. While I am waiting in line I get a text from Brad that says “have to run back to the hotel. Be there in a min” Wasn’t too concerned because like I said, line was wrapped through the lobby. At this point though I am checking my watch every two seconds getting a little antsy because time is ticking away. The buses were taking forever, and the line was not moving. Once Brad arrived at the Hyatt, with a freshly brewed cup of coffee, we decided it would be best to go back to his hotel because there wasn’t a wait. Why didn’t I just do this in the first place you ask? Well, because directions are hard and I would have indeed gotten lost on my way over. We finally made it to where the buses were loading to be taken to the start line. The wear blue circle of remembrance had already started once we got on the bus, so yeah missed that. Thankfully I was apart of 3 on Saturday, so I didn’t feel as terrible. And as luck would have it, the bus we were suppose to be loaded on broke down. Yup, that’s how my marathon morning started.

FINALLY we arrive at the runner drop location only to realize we have to still walk a mile to the start line. As if running 26.2 miles isn’t already enough. Thank you, Marine Corps! Dropped our bags at the UPS trucks then made a mad dash for the start line. The Marines pride themselves on getting 30,000 people across the finish line in record time, but for this type-a personality that chaos did not work for me. It was so crowded which sat the tone for the rest of the marathon. So let’s break it down, shall we?

When you are starting a race at the exact same time as everyone else, a PR is next to impossible. I already had a rough training season, my longest run only being 16 miles, so I had already put a PR in the back of my mind. If I beat my best time, great, if not, that’s great too because regardless I was going to finish.

I ran smart, I didn’t run hard. My goal was to run the first half, and then begin intervals for the second half. The race did not begin until 7:55 AM which meant we would be running in the heat of the day. At this point I knew that hydration was key and that cramps were going to be a factor. But praise the good Lord I did not cramp!

As previously stated I wanted to run the first half, and I did just that. I reached the blue mile, mile 12, a little after the 2 hour mark. I made sure to take in every face that was on the faces of the fallen posters, and when I arrived at Bret I knelt down, kissed his cheek, then took off again. This blue mile was different compared to the one in San Diego. I had a lot of joy. I wasn’t overcome with sadness, but with pride. I was proud to be Bret’s sister, and I was proud to be apart of wear blue. I found Dusty and Chelsea, gave them both a big hug, waved at other volunteers I knew, then sat in to intervals because I still had 13.1 miles to go.

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The last half of the race was magical. I never felt tired, but I did get hot. We passed so many monuments that I had only ever read about in history books, so to be on the same streets as former Presidents and public figures was really neat.

Mile 20 came and it was time to “Beat the Bridge” I totally understand why this bridge has that title, because you are literally out on a bridge for two miles with no shade and no water. It sounds as miserable as it was. Thankfully it was flat! When you’re running with thousands of other runners you never expect to run in to someone you know, little own run in to someone running in memory of your brother, but that is exactly what happened to me halfway across the bridge at mile 21. While I was doing my thing, putting one foot in front of the other and thinking about the Dr. Pepper I was going to drink when I was finished, I saw a wear blue bib. Each time I see a bib I make sure to look at the name listed on it. I had to read this bib numerous times before realizing “that lady is running in memory of Bret!” Another total freak out moment. A complete stranger with a heart for our fallen, running in memory of Bret. In total Krysten fashion I ran up to her, tapped her on the shoulder, and started shouting “that’s my brother!” as I’m awkwardly running sideways so that she can see the back of my shirt. Y’all I can’t even describe that moment. To say I got my second wind is an understatement. Bret is remembered by his family and friends, but he is also remembered by those who never even had the chance to meet him. Thank you, Meghann, for giving Brenda Bret’s bib and preparing her for the Krysten freak out moment because it totally did happen!

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Next up, the last 5 miles. That was it, a handful of miles. At this point I was ready for the marathon to be over because the shade was limited and quite frankly I was hot, tired, and hungry. It seemed like it didn’t matter the amount of water or Gatorade I took, I could not get rid of my thirst. I knew dehydration was happening because I was sweating out the liquid as fast as I was putting it into my body.

I finally made it back to the start, so I knew that all I had left was to make my way up the hill to Arlington to finish. Since my mom couldn’t be there with me, I turned off my music and called her on FaceTime. Big moments in your life just aren’t the same without your mom there, so having the ability to FaceTime her was really special. She was cheering louder than the amazing spectators that were lined all along the course. And of course she was crying because that’s just what my mom does. After 4 hours and 42 minutes I made it to the finish where I was greeted by a marine to salute me, say “well done”, and put a medal around my neck. After 16 weeks of training… Mission Accomplished.

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This race was for more than just Bret. I also ran for the fighting. My cousin Cole just joined the Marines and will leave for San Diego in the coming months, and my friend, SGT Josh Clark, is currently serving and is stationed in Spring, Texas. To all veterans, past and present, thank you for your service! To our fallen, thank you for your selfless sacrifice for our country. You will never be forgotten.

If you stuck through this post with me until the end, followed my journey from the beginning, and cheered my on through all my ups and downs I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your love and support means more to me than you will ever know.

Here’s to whatever is in store for me next.

 

 

 

 

Photos by: Krysten Isenhower, wear blue: run to remember, Chelsea Jenkins, and Cindi Gersch