When tragedy struck, Charlene couldn’t run to her son. Now she runs for him because she can.

Charlene G with daughterCharlene Gryszowka (L) – Ware, Massachusetts

I have never told anyone the REAL reason I started running – but here goes…

My husband and I married young and had 2 beautiful children. A girl first, (who is in the pic), then my son was born… cute as cute could be. At age 2 days, (yes, days), he was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer.

After 18 months of chemo, radiation and surgeries, he was in remission. He had to see the doctor every 3 months… but still, he led a full and happy life.

Charlene G's SonThen, at the age of 19, he was taken from us in a senseless 4-wheeler accident. The accident scene was up a logging road maybe a half mile or so from our house… and I COULD NOT RUN TO MY CHILD. I would run a few steps and then have to walk… ‘run’ literally 2 or 3 more steps then have to walk, again.

Long story short, after his tragic accident I vowed to him [and to myself] that SOMEDAY… I would run.

Well, ‘someday’ came about 5 years later after watching my daughter, a lifelong cross-country runner, do a St. Patrick’s Day 10K. I saw other people running and I thought “Yeah, I can do that. If they can do it… then I can, too.”

So, I signed up [in secret] for my first 5K and called my daughter to tell her I needed her company on X date in October. She said, “Yeah, Mom, that’s the half marathon I just signed up for. I was hoping you could come.”

(Turns out while I was signing up for the 5K she was signing up for the half – great minds think alike!)

That was 2 years ago. We trained together, she coached me and I’ve hardly looked back. In the process [totally as a bonus] I’ve lost almost 50 pounds.

This year I signed up for the very 10K I watched my daughter do a few years earlier. I was scared out of my mind… could I do it? Would I get done before the cut off? (I had never run an organized race that distance before.) My daughter had moved away so we didn’t train together anymore which meant I was on my own. (Except, of course, for the awesome support of the Sole Group.)

Well, 10K day finally rolled around. I was feeling fairly confident, even if I had to walk, I knew I’d finish. As an added incentive, I was using that day as my virtual run for autism. I ran, I finished, (it wasn’t the prettiest run – leg cramp started at around mile 5), but I DID it. I dedicated my run to Danielle, a dear friend’s daughter who is autistic, and I was so happy when I could present her with the medal.

The truth is, I don’t run fast… and I’m working on the far. I do still have to walk more than I’d like, but I’m working on it. I’ve hired a personal trainer/running coach to help get me there. (Something I never would have even thought of if not for Brook and the Sole Sisters.)  I’m also working on keeping my promise to my son and myself to run.

I’ve done many 5K’s, a Rugged Maniac, the 10k earlier this year and I’m now training for my first half in October 2014. I’m happy to say my daughter is doing the half as well. We will be running in the same event, but she will be done WAY before me because she is amazing. And me, well, I will get it done… eventually.

I have also added another big event, 3 days after my sons Angelversary in September. I am proud to say I have found a way to “pay back” the Jimmy Fund. I will be walking, (they won’t allow me to run), the Boston Marathon route.

I know without the support from my Sole Sisters and their encouragement, I wouldn’t have come this far. They have challenged me to step up my game, dream big, step out of my comfort zone and leave all the excuses behind. They have shown me not every day is epic, some just plain suck. Tomorrow is another day – Onward.

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Char — it took a lot of courage for you to share this today… thank you for including us on YOUR journey. We wish you and your family a lifetime of health, love and blessings. (((BIG HUGS))) + Onward! xo

P.S. If you liked this story, please share it. If it’s time to tell YOUR story, click here and let’s get started.

P.S.S. The Inner Circle of Sole starts July 1st — if you have a big goal you’re chasing this fall… and you want to meet dozens of strong, awe-inspiring women just like Charlene, click here to save your seat. 

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