Running More than a Race

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When I first met Jonnie Wheeler at a San Antonio Mother of Multiples meeting, she seemed to have it all; a handsome military doctor husband, a beautiful nine-year old daughter and precious triplets. Even with having very young babies at home, she looked as if she had just stepped out of the pages of a fashion magazine. And to top it all off, she was so warm, friendly and humble about her obvious outward beauty. I had no idea that her seemingly  perfect life would soon take a serious change for the worse.

One of Jonnie’s friends had informed her of something that she had witnessed. She couldn’t believe what her words actually meant. Was it sleep deprivation from being up all the time with the triplets? Could it just be gossip?  She decided to go and see for herself. She was far too busy with raising her 4 children to wait and wonder about the negative news she had been given.

As she sat in the dark parking lot of a local restaurant her worst fears had been confirmed. She spotted her husband as he left the establishment in the arms of another woman. Her world was shattered.

She somehow managed the existence of the life of a single mother of four. Even the act of going to the grocery store was almost impossible. She felt defeated, angry and heartbroken. She didn’t even have the time to grieve the end of her marriage.

With their divorce becoming finalized and her ex-husband now being stationed overseas with his new wife, she sought the help of her mother. She moved from another state to help Jonnie with her day-to-day survival of raising triplets.

It is only at this time that she feels like she can somehow start to reflect on what had just happened. She needed to face the reality of a failed marriage and what it had done to her own self-confidence. She had spent so many years as a stay at home mom. She had no recent job skills. How in the world was she going to support her family of 5?

Right around this time, one of her very close friends and fellow triplet moms, Susan Friar, convinced her to join her in running a marathon. She knew that it might be exactly what Jonnie needed. During the long training runs, there was plenty of time to talk. She knew that she needed some time to work through the pain of her divorce. Her mother was now living at her house and she could meet her Team in Training in the mornings for workouts while everyone was still sound asleep.

Training for her first marathon was hard and involved six months of a time commitment that she thought would be impossible. And she had no idea what to expect as she pushed her body to its limits. Not only did she have to endure the 26.2 miles in the actual race but she had to run for as much as 22 miles in the long trainings before the event. She would finish her running sessions unable to move her body, only to come home to chase around her three toddlers and oldest child. What in the world had she done? She had to constantly remind her self of the people that she had chosen to honor in her race. They had the pain of cancer. Her pain would go away and theirs might not is how she convinced herself to push through the exhaustion.

 

She was excited, anxious and nervous as she made the journey to the 2008 Rock and Roll Marathon in San Diego with her friends and fellow teammates of Team in Training of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

 

Jonnie finished the race just as the race crew was preparing to pack up for the day. So many times during the course of 26.2 miles she wanted to give up but she didn’t. She kept reaching to a place within herself that she never knew existed.

 

All the turmoil of her divorce and what it had done to her self worth and confidence seemed to be erased away through the months and months of training. What could have easily left her defeated had now turned into her very own personal victory.

 

She crossed the finish line with her friend and fellow triplet mom, Susan; a friend that had been with her through the entire journey of her painful divorce. They were both now relishing in each other’s victory of completing their very first marathon together.

 

 

 

 

As many marathoners and half-marathoners often realize, myself included, is that training for a race doesn’t have to be about athleticism. The medals that they hand out look the same whether you were the fastest or the slowest. There is something that happens after you cross that finish line, a sense of confidence overcomes you that can’t easily be explained. It happened to Jonnie. She started to believe in herself in a way that she never felt possible. After everything in her life was no longer how she imagined it would be; she survived with the help of her friends, family and a marathon.

 

Using her boost of confidence, she sought out a new career. When her triplets started pre-K, she needed to go back to work to earn money to pay the bills of raising such a large family. Having not worked in the past 10 years nor holding the career skills to work for a technology company, she was given a chance by UpperRoom Technologies. She started out as a bookkeeper and receptionist and has been employed by them for over 3 years.

She loves her life in the workforce. Being a single mother of four is often stressful but with the continued help of her mother, she feels that she is setting an example for her children. She has also relied on her deep faith in God to see her through some of her  most difficult challenges.

 

She has recently caught the entrepreneurial spirit and formed a new business called Social Lynx Media Group. Together with her partner in business, Colby Burns, they recently became members of Geekdom.  It is a collaborative co-working space that is located in the Weston Centre in downtown San Antonio. They are both excited about their new office space and resources that are provided in their membership in Geekdom. I recently met them to take their pictures in the space. It left me feeling inspired to seek out membership as well. There is a need for more creative women to experience this new type of resource and take advantage of its collaborative spirit.

 

Pictures taken in Geekdom by Livin’ Sassy. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View from the window at Geekdom in downtown San Antonio

 

 

The new business partners in meeting space available to Geekdom members.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was inspired to tell Jonnie’s story as I was scrolling through my Facebook page. She had been tagged in some photos that had been taken by the local photographer, Bea Simmons. Not only did I find the pictures beautiful, I noticed how happy my friend looked in these pictures. I couldn’t believe how far she had come in the journey since her divorce. I wanted to not only tell my readers about her story of survival because it is so compelling. I wanted to give another example of the power of believing in yourself.

 

 

Photograph of Jonnie and Colby provided courtesy of Bea Simmons Photography 

 

As I am typing this, Jonnie is in San Francisco. She has been training for her second half-marathon with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It was too hard to find the time fo train for the full marathon again. She wants to keep raising money for the organization that helped see herself in a new and positive light. She truly believes that completing her first marathon made a huge difference in her life. And as she will continue along the pathways in her race tomorrow, she will find a little bit more strength and endurance within herself. And in the race of hope and the cure of cancer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A quote that Jonnie strives to live by:

One tree can start a forest. One smile can begin a friendship.

One hand can lift a soul.One word can frame the goal.

One candle can wipe out darkness. One laugh can conquer gloom.

One hope can raise your spirits. One touch can show you care.

One life can make a difference….be that one today. ~Anonymous

 

 

 

For more information about training for your own half-marathon or marathon, visit TNT. If you have an interest in unleashing your inner entrepreneur, you can find out about Geekdom at  GEEK  . Jonnie and Colby’s new company’s website is SocialLynx and finally, if you are in need of having your picture taken doing any and all of these activities, please visit Bea Simmons Photography and see some more of her fabulous work on their Facebook Page .

 

Stay Sassy Y’all.

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Comments

  1. great story and beautiful mom!!! i love stories like this:0)

  2. Laura, Thank you for telling my story…. I’m humbled and honored….

    God Bless <3
    Jonnie

    • Thank you for allowing me to tell it-It is very brave to share your darkest moments. I hope you are running the best race of your life!

  3. Joaquin Rodriguez says:

    I am happy that my path crossed Jonnie’s life. Gotta to love her smile and optimism in the face or good or bad. :-)

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