Monday, January 9, 2017

A Letter to the Daughter I Never Had

Dear Dani,
I met you many years ago while working at a local running store.  At first you were this young spunky girl that was more than happy to be at work every day, but it did not take long for you to work your way into my heart and soul.  
I had the joy of watching you progress from a young collegiate runner that showed great potential to an elite runner.  I shared your joys as you made it on the Hansons Team and eventually ran your first marathon.  I remember your hard earned victories, especially your finish at the Olympic Trials Marathon.  

There are some things that I remember more than all that....I remember the look in your eyes and the feelings you showed when I finished a big ultra.  You made my events seem bigger than yours.  I am not fast and not elite and I just finish sometimes, and sometimes I don’t even finish.  Yet you understood how important they were to me.  You made me cards to celebrate my accomplishments.  I still have them today.  You made me feel that what I did was equal if not greater than your accomplishments, regardless of my paces or times.  
Your border collie sisters with the cards you made. =)
Today I will share something special with you, I will pass on a gift.  Years ago when I finished my first big ultra, a very good friend of mine gave me this bracelet.  As you can see it is only rubber, it didn’t cost much but the one word on it made me feel special.  “Remarkable.”  The person that gave this to me was not even a runner.  But they recognized that I did something different, harder and challenged myself.  I tried something that I wasn’t even sure I could do.  And they found it remarkable.   

You know I don't have any children, other than border collies.  Yet, I do consider you my third border collie.  (You know border collies are known to be extremely energetic and athletic.) I know that no one gets to choose their child-but if I could, it would be you.   You are such an amazing young lady.  I feel in the few years I’ve known you,  I’ve watched you emerge from your cocoon and turn into a butterfly.  But even that isn’t a fair comparison, because you were already a butterfly when I met you, and you have transformed into something even better.  
        I remember years ago, when you showed so much interest in my ultra marathons.  You were excited by my success and understood my failures.  I knew one day you would become and ultra marathoner.    You told me that you looked up to me and that you wanted to be me when you grew up.  I could see that you decided that limitations were not there, that the glass ceiling could be shattered because it was not high enough for you.  
This past weekend you ran your first ultra marathon, the 50K at Yankee Springs Winter Challenge.  I passed on any bits of wisdom I could, anything to help you succeed.  And you told me this, “I’ll be happy to take last place, to be DFL.”  (*Dead Freakin’ Last)   I knew you would not come in anywhere near the end.  I knew that last wouldn’t be good enough.  

I only wish I could have been there to see you and share in your victory as you not only won the 50K, but crushed the course record.  Today, Dani (Miller) Filipek- you are an ultra marathoner.  You are remarkable and you are the daughter I never had, the daughter I wish I had, and I could not be more proud of you.  I love you with all my heart.  I will close this letter with a paragraph from my friend Steve Cannon's book (40 Days: Life, Loss, Love and A Historic Run Around One of the World's Largest Lakes)  This sums up how I feel about your victory.  

Your Ultra Runner Mom,