“I was fighting back tears when I crossed the finish line. I was missing Casey” – The Virginia Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon

Rock n Roll VA Beach
Joel Feldman approaching the finish line

On September 6th I completed my first ever half marathon in Virginia Beach.  This is one of four races that I will run this year for EndDD.org, working with Travelers Insurance Company to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.  Travelers will be donating $100 for every mile run by three to four runners on the EndDD.org team.

I finished the race a bit quicker than I had anticipated, just over two and one-half hours.  The energy from the event helped fuel me – the thousands who were running, the rock and roll music along the course, the bands that were playing, the throngs of local folks cheering us on along the entire 13 miles and the enthusiastic volunteers manning water stops and spraying us with lawn hoses to cool us down during the last 2 miles of the race.

There were a lot of smiles as runners crossed the finish line in addition to raised arms, fist pumps and high fives with everyone feeling good about what they had accomplished. For me though, it was different.

I ran because my daughter Casey was killed by a distracted driver. Yes, I was proud that at age 60 I had trained for and completed a 13 mile race. But I had no smile, did not feel the least bit happy and was filled with emotion once I crossed that finish line. I was fighting back tears and missing Casey. I was struggling with how I as a father, am living and achieving when my child is dead – planning for more races, more distracted driving talks, knowing that I have a future when Casey has none. I felt different from the other runners, down and lonely and not wanting any congratulations.

David Kidd (R), Michele Brycleand and Joel Feldman the day before ther race
David Kidd (R), Michele Brycleand and Joel Feldman the day before the race

But, that  changed when I “ran into” Michele Bryceland and David Kidd, two local runners who had agreed to run the race on the EndDD.org team. Shelby and David are competitive runners and recent graduates of Virginia Wesleyan College and still hold cross country records for the school.  I met them for the first time the day before and instantly connected with them. David shared that he was also born in 1988, the same year as Casey, and how he felt an instant bond with her. Shelby told me how she had taken the time to learn about Casey and was so proud to be running for our cause.  They also had shared that they were driving safer as a result of learning about Casey and how she was killed.

Seeing them and feeling their energy and support, knowing that they were part of our team and that Casey’s story had affected them in a very positive way did make me smile.  It made me feel that something good was coming from all that we are doing and, in a sense, gave me permission to enjoy the moment and to accept congratulations for what I had just accomplished. It was icing on the cake when they then volunteered to come to Philadelphia and run again for our EndDD.org team in October’s half marathon.

Then another team member came into my view. It was Laura Carney, who will also be running in the New York City Marathon in November in support of EndDD . Laura’s father “Mick” was killed by a distracted driver in 2003.

Laura Ocean (1280x853)
Laura Carney after the race

Laura said,  “I felt like I was a part of something much, much bigger than me, knowing that my run was raising so much money and that the people running behind me could see the message on the shirt I was wearing. At the finish line, as I was collecting bananas and chocolate milk, I held my medal up away from the EndDD logo, because I wanted the spectators to see what we were running for. It was a very humbling feeling, getting the chance to make a difference.”

And for me at that point it was all worth it. I could experience some joy as I was reassured that Casey’s life is continuing to make a difference through the help of such fine people as Laura, Michele and David and the support of Travelers Insurance Company.

Related Links:

Running for a cause at Virginia Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, By Lee Tolliver,  The Virginian-Pilot,  

Kidd and Bryceland to Race for a Cause in Rock and Roll Half Marathon, Virginia Wesleyan College, September 3, 2015

Michele (Shelby) Bryceland Joins the EndDD Team Running this Weekend in the Va Beach Rock-n-Roll Marathon, EndDD.org, September 3, 2015

Travelers Partners With Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series and Asks “What Drives Runners?” – “My Drive Comes From” campaign to raise money for EndDD.org (End Distracted Driving),  RunRrocknRoll.com

Writer talks of her father, the crash and distracted drivingEndDD.org, August 25, 2015, by Laura Carney