Last year, only days after my son Owen’s brain surgery and days before his Trach surgery, I decided to run an inspiring race, the CHaD HERO 5k. Racing is a HUGE part of my life, so returning to this hobby after having lost two of my triplets and watching my third continue to fight for his life, was an emotional feat to say the least.
I was in the middle of running 100 registered miles for my second “100 Miles for Empower” campaign when I got pregnant with Owen, Cooper and Silas. I was over halfway to 100 miles when I was put on a no running restriction due to complications with the pregnancy in my first trimester. Determined to finish, I restructured my fundraiser and walked ALMOST the rest of those 100 miles through virtual racing, with my boys in tow. I would walk those miles and imagine what my first race back would look like with my husband waiting with all three babies in the stroller at the finish line. Then, again, with only 2/100 miles to finish, I was given the news that my boys were in danger and preterm labor was imminent and I was only allowed to walk 0.2 miles A DAY. So luckily, with a troop of amazing friends, I was pushed in a wheelchair for those last two miles and completed the 100 miles, raising $5000 to benefit EmpowerSCI 2018. I was quickly then put on hospital bed rest and racing, running and even walking was no longer a concern of mine.
Fast forward 6 week post emergency c-section when my doctors cleared me to run. I ran 2 slow, methodical, painful, but glorious fall miles dedicated to my two beautiful sons Cooper and Silas. Running would never be the same for me, and I never imagined racing would “mean” anything anymore.
When the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Intensive Care Nursery (ICN) staff started buzzing about the CHaD HERO, I said, “No way… I’ve got more important things to do than run a silly race.” Luckily, the ICN staff was very good at knowing what I needed more than I did at the time and they kept on “buzzing” about the event. It wasn’t until the the day before, when mini Superman capes were being made by all the ICN mamas that I decided to do it. “Not for myself…” I said, “But for my boys… my heroes.”
Owen and Jessica during the 2018 CHaD HERO
The experience was AMAZING. From a photo shoot with Owen in his cape the night before (pictured above), to walking into the ICN on the morning of the event and having those photos already made in to a scrapbook page and posted over his bed, to an awesome nurse preparing a “to-go” pumping kit for me because the anxiety of missing a pump session for Owen was providing me an “out” for the race. Of course, and there was always this, I was reassured by many nurses that Owen was completely taken care of, and if I missed a few hours away from him, HE WOULD BE OK.
And then there was the event itself. Imagine a sea of kids (and adults) dressed in every superhero costume you can imagine, running, laughing, and again buzzing with excitement over a race, on the most beautiful chilly fall day. I was there alone for over an hour before the race just taking in the autumn chill, the hundreds of HEROES, thinking endlessly about what superhero my boys would want to dress up as, and imagining Owen and his preemie friends running Cam’s Course in a year or two.
I ran without a watch. I soaked in every smell of fall. I remembered why I loved racing. And when I got back to the ICN, I promised another running mama that I would take on the hilliest half marathon, just for the HEROES, next year… no matter what.
So here I am. 14 months after my boys were born, having registered and raised money for, what I feel is one of the most powerful and meaningful races I’ve ever run. It took me 13 months to run 13 miles again. I am slow and don’t recover as easily. Finding time (and energy, honestly) has been tough, but picturing race day, with all those superheroes (and my own) made each mile and hill a little easier.
So know this… I still had 3 babies waiting for me at the finish line, one in a Superman costume and two in my heart. Know that your donation makes a difference in the lives of children who have fought a fight similar to my boys. Know that even a dollar helps programs at CHaD. Know that I’ll do this race in some form for as long as I can, so if you can’t donate this year… it’s OK… there’s time. Know that coming out on race day is magical, so I hope you will join us next year. And know that because of the CHaD HERO, racing MEANS something to me again.
— CHaD mom, Jessica Goodine
Owen and Jessica during the 2019 CHaD HERO