Marathon #13: Running to Remember PFC Bryan Leroy Thorstead

One of the partners at my husband’s office recently said I was insane. He is a marathon runner himself, so he understands the highs and lows of running. He knows how it feels to cross the finish line. He is part of the relatively insane folks 1% who will run a marathon in their lifetime.

What he was referring to when he said I was insane was the number of marathons that I have run in the amount of time since I started with this distance. At this point, it has been 12 marathons in 18 months.

There are still six marathons on the schedule in 2017, and I am already planning my 2018 marathons. So far I have registered for two, and I am waiting on registration to open for two more. I am not done.

Yes, I may have gone a bit off the rails with the running, but it has been a great source of purpose for me. Thankfully, my husband supports me in this hobby/sport because he knows what I get out of it. He also knows what I put into it, and according to him, if I am willing to work that hard to stay motived and in shape to run 26.2 miles, he is happy to support that effort. As long as I don’t force him to join me.

I am now coming up on marathon #13, the Ogden Marathon in Utah, on May 20, 2017. I know very little about this race in general; I know almost nothing about this area. The Ogden Marathon was chosen because my husband and I had planned to take our May vacation to Utah this year, spending time visiting the national parks that we have read so much about. With my interest in running, I naturally wanted to add a marathon to the trip itinerary, and the Ogden Marathon was a good fit. Voilà! I signed up before Chris could say no.

PFC Bryan Leroy Thorstead

Going back to my statement about finding a sense of purpose in running, I have since day one tried to run ‘for’ someone – for Meg, for my buddy K-man, for those on my miles dedication lists. This year has been a bit of a new effort, where I run each race for one of our 22 Too Many heroes who have ended their own lives due to post traumatic stress they experience after their service in our armed forces. I find a purpose in sharing their stories, helping their families to find some small comfort in knowing their loved one is remembered. It’s been an eye (and heart) opening journey for me, as I have received the photos and stories of these men (so far, my matches have been men, although there are women who are also remembered with 22 Too Many). Each one is heartbreaking. Each one is special to me as I am trusted with their story. Each one stays with me as I continue to run.

For the Ogden Marathon, I have been matched with a hero who is from Ogden, Utah. His family lives in and around the area. Several of his family members plan to come to the race to cheer me on as I run for their loved one. PFC Bryan Leroy Thorstead is the soldier I am focused on for Ogden, and his family has been sharing some personal stories and information with me to help me get to know Bryan even more as he joins me for this race in his hometown. The family has been in touch on Facebook; we plan to meet up after the race and visit Bryan together, where I can pay my respects.

I won’t lie; the idea of meeting his family face to face after the race is a little intimidating. I definitely want to do it; to be able to give them the medal in person and thank them for sharing Bryan with me is an experience not many runners in 22 Too Many have. There will be laughter and tears, I am guessing. Given how emotional I always am at the end of a marathon, drained of all my energy and laying everything I have on the race course in those final steps, I’ll likely be a mess as I cross the finish line and look for these people, offering my 4+ hour finish as a token gesture to ease their grief in their loss. For me, I really want to do well for Bryan and for his family. I’m most intimidated by what I may not be able to do. My biggest fear is that something goes wrong and I can’t finish. Of course, I also know that all the pressure I feel is what I am putting on myself. From my limited experience with 22 Too Many, the families are always most grateful their loved one is remembered. Finish times aren’t important; they respect and value the effort made on behalf of the hero. Whatever time I run, however my race happens to play out, I just want Bryan’s family to know I will have given it my best for Bryan. And for them.

So yes, my marathoning may have gotten a bit crazy, and I’m probably considered by many to be a conductor on the insane train, but I feel like my running has led me to many amazing places – not just physical locations but also to amazing stories that are worth sharing. And to amazing people with whom I have been able to connect, learn from, support and show them that someone else cares. Thankful that this race has led me to another one of these amazing places.

PFC Bryan Leroy Thorsted

5/29/81 – 9/15/07

Fort Riley, 1st Armored Division 11 Bravo

PFC Bryan Leroy Thorsted served with the U.S. Army. He deployed to Iraq out of Fort Riley with the 1st Armored Division as 11 Bravo. He lost his fight with PTSD on September 15, 2007. He loved baseball and his favorite thing was coaching his son’s team. He had two boys and two girls – he loved his kids. He loved his family and his country. He is missed.
Final resting place: Evergreen Memorial Park, Ogden, UT

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3 thoughts on “Marathon #13: Running to Remember PFC Bryan Leroy Thorstead

    • I know! It will be a memorable weekend, for certain. I’m apprehensive, but I’m also very eager to have this level of interaction with the family. I think understanding just how much it means to them will help me when I’m struggling with my training, confidence or waiver in a race. They have been so thankful and appreciative that I’m carrying Bryan with me (I ran and walked a 24.1 mi event in Bermuda last weekend with Bryan, and I’ve heard nothing but ‘thank you.’)

      What I’m doing doesn’t make me special or amazing. I’m just a recreational runner who wants to do some good. Or as my friend at http://www.twotim47.com says, bring light into darkness.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Race recap: Ogden Marathon | Robyn Runs the World

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