Running Half a Marathon With a Whole Heart

Running Half a Marathon With a Whole Heart
World Autism Awareness Day April 2, 2012

For the past three years, one of my goals has been to complete a 5K run (3.1 miles) in less than 30 minutes. I have written about that over and over.

Therefore, it may come as a surprise to you that this post is all about running 13.1 miles, and I don’t have my heart set on a specific finish time.

I will be running the 2012 Allstate Life Insurance Boston 13.1 Marathon® on Sunday, September 16, 2012, as part of the Autism Speaks team. When I told my husband that I wanted to do this, he asked, “why run 13.1 miles in Boston when you could do it here in Tallahassee?” It has to be Boston, it has to be September 16, 2012, and it has to be with Autism Speaks because someone I have never met asked me to.

Perhaps these statements …. running 13.1 miles in “whatever time I can do” when my main goal is 3.1 miles in 29:59 or less; traveling to Boston to run because someone I have never met and never verbally spoken to asked me to; running as part of the Autism Speaks team when my child does not have autism …. don’t make much sense.

Here are some of the reasons I said, “this has to happen” when I read Luau’s blog on February 14:

1) Beyond the fact that I had seen some made for tv movies about children with autism and done a little reading, my life had not been directly touched by autism until the day my almost-one-year-old failed most of the indicators for “typical development” on an assessment given by the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. No eye contact, no words, no pointing, nothing. Even though Wayne was not diagnosed with any condition on the autism spectrum, I have felt one teeny tiny scintilla of what I hear from my friends and acquaintances who have children with autism. That scintilla is wedged deep within my psyche and even though I have no right to say “I can relate,” …….. I can’t walk away.

2) I have worked for Florida’s State Child Health Insurance Program for 17 years. Our program does not cover autism. Even though I know it’s “just my job” to explain this to families whose child needs far more than the “24 therapy visits in a 60 day period when significant improvement is expected to result,” that are covered, it still breaks my heart to be on the other end of the phone line when they say, “But how will he/she get the intensive, year-round therapy he/she needs?”

3) Because several times a week, I read Diary of a Mom, and am given the gift of Jess’s wisdom, raw candor, and selflessness in sharing her journey (and Luau’s) journey through parenting a “neurotypical” child and a child on the autism spectrum. The only way I know how to pay her back is to try to do something to help her child and other children and adults with autism.

Therefore, I signed on to the Autism Speaks Team knowing that my end of the deal is to raise $500 for Autism Speaks. The good news is I have raised $130.

More good news is that if I accumulate the most or second-to-most comments of everyone participating in this promotion that is hosted by Amanda at Parenting by Dummies, Paula Foster from Moments in Frames will donate a dollar per comment up to $250. Just for your comments!! (This lasts through May 6.)

(ps – if you just want to donate, of course that’s fine too! Click here to be taken to my personal donation link.) [link no longer active – pk]

Running Half a Marathon With a Whole Heart
I am participating in a blogging promotion sponsored by Moments in Frames to help raise money for Autism Speaks. Please help us reach our goal by leaving a comment. Each comment you leave me could earn $1 (up to $250) for Autism Speaks.
Editor’s Notes 7/17/15:
1) I have re-released this blog via an app which reposts older items I have written. The Moments in Frames promotion is over.
2) It is critical to understand that Diary of a Mom’s position on Autism Speaks has changed since April of 2012. Please read the post why I #BoycottAutimSpeaks for her explanation.

279 thoughts on “Running Half a Marathon With a Whole Heart

  1. Paula: Knowing your Mon TRX, Tues at FSU track, Wed bootcamp at Doak and on and on and on, you are ready and a winner already. Enjoy!

  2. I'm super excited to be witness to your training and achievement of your first half marathon! And for a great cause! Good luck, see you out on the road 🙂

  3. Oh Paula, I am so touched by this and am honored that you would make this trip in part based on a request from a guy you've never met. I look forward to breaking bread with you on the 15th and sharing the course with you on the 16th.

  4. Thank you for joining the team. I believe Matt has single handedly recruited all of the 13.1 team members so far. I look forward to meeting you and celebrating your 13.1 victory on race weekend. – Lara

  5. From a mom of a FL kid with autism, who is in the Healthy Kids program, thank you so much for doing this! You are awesome, Paula!

  6. Imagine if more people took action like you are doing! Thanks so much, from a Mom of an 8 year old daughter with autism and a 5 year old “neurotypical” son in TX!

  7. This is a wonderful thing you're doing! I would love to be in good enough shape to run for the cause someday! Till then on behalf of my 7 year old daughter I thank you! 🙂

  8. LOVE!

    We are kindred spirits. I too am running the 13.1 in September in Boston because someone I never met asked me to and despite the fact that I live in Tennessee.

    Boston was and always will be my home and I can think of no better way to celebrate kids like Brooke and my Shea (a 7-year old on the spectrum) than to run 13.1 miles with people I've never met, but nonetheless adore.


  9. There a bunch of us New England Daily Milers who will be there participating as well. many of us have autistic children of our own. We look forward to seeing ya' there. Great post!

  10. Paula – just a tremendous thing to do – I will be looking forward to following your journey both here and on Daily Mile training for your half marathon in September.

    Anything you need, please ask (I'll be happy to support your cause with a gift as well).

    Best to you Paula! You are what it is all about.

  11. Thank you! I too love Jess's blog and dabble in running…have wanted to do a half or (gasp) full for the Autism Speaks Team. Good luck to you!

  12. What a wonderful cause, Paula!
    I started running in Jan 2012 and i can relate to your pace goal. I just signed up for a half mary as well. I admire your advocacy and warm heart. God bless!

  13. I too am going to participate in this 13.1 mile marathon for Autism Speaks because of Luau's invitation (mostly because he said I could walk if I need to!) I am not a runner but I look forward to this event – I have 2 sons with autism and will think of them with every stride. I hope to meet you there!

  14. It's nice to know that there are people out there putting their hearts on the line for our kiddos. As a teacher of special education, it's refreshing to hear we've got support; we'll take it from wherever we can!

  15. As a mom of a little boy,4 yrs old,with Autism,i thank you with a heavy,happy heart! You cant begin to understand how it makes me feel to see someone who doesnt have a family member with Autism care and respond so deeply.God bless you in your race,every step you take is a step forward for families like mine.

  16. This is spectacular! Jess said reading this would be worth it, she was right. The fact that your life has not been directly affected by autism just makes this more bad ass. Got goosebumps reading your words. It's so encouraging to hear about people like you, those willing to take action and actually do something. The idea that you have taken up a cause when you have no personal stake in it is humbling, inspiring and heroic. Seriously. Big thanks from my entire family!!!

    Good luck on the run!!!

  17. Thank you so much – you truly are running for every ASD kid out there. My 3 year old daughter is one of them. Much love and gratitude from our family.

  18. I can't tell you how much it means to have a parent who hasn't been directly impacted by autism make such an effort to help kids like my own. I don't think I can really explain how significant this is to me. Your willingness to stand up for a cause like this is so heartwarming! Thank you for doing this!

  19. Paula – you're incredibly inspiring in crusading and dedicating your training & your race to a cause that has touched you – maybe not deep and close (like a dagger), but at least scratches periodically. Best of luck in your training to get to Boston in September!

  20. Good luck! I love that you responded to Luau's challenge. I've responded to Jess's request, and commented here. 🙂 They both rock. Hope you rock your run!!

  21. Paula, I don't know you but came via Jess. I DO know Jess and her beautiful family. Now? I LOVE YOU for what you are doing. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for doing this for all of our children.

  22. Thank you for what you are doing! I have two personal friends with autistic sons and I know what they go through on a daily basis. My own nephew, while on the spectrum, was never “labeled”as he fit too many categories. Luckily his case is mild comparatively speaking. You can be sure to also fnd a donation from me soon. You are awesome!

  23. Thank you Paula! I read Jess' blog as an autism mom, and Luau's blog as a runner (very amateur). You are inspiring on both fronts. Good luck and have tons of fun!

  24. What an awesome and big heart you have! I bet that training for a half marathon will also help you with that 29:59 5K goal. Best of luck.

  25. Thanks, Paula for your kindness and generosity to the kids and families on the spectrum. Am trying to work my schedule so I can be at the run in September as well. Hopefully I will see you there.

  26. Hey Paula!
    You are just so awesome! You were the one who introduced me to Jess' blog and now I'm glued to it. I just participated in our local Autism Walk & Expo last weekend but it's nothing compared to what you are doing. Good luck!

  27. Hey Paula this sounds awesome! The only real contact I've had with autism is through a movie I made about a year ago. One of the main characters was autistic so I had to do a lot of research. Since then, I've been more aware of causes like this, and I wish you all the best!


  28. Paula, I am so looking forward to running this 1/2 marathon with you! You have inspired me to run in honor of some very special young folks with autism whose have come into my life. I feel blessed that our paths have crossed — I know I am the better for it!

  29. Great job, Paula … on the blogpost and the fundraising. I hope you reach your comment goal. In the original draft of “Harvest of the Heart,” Elsa, the main character, was mildly autistic. That element was dropped at the suggestion of my editor, but after all the research I did, I still feel an affinity for autistic children and autism research.

  30. I hope you have a great Half Marathon!! I did my first last year at age 64 with only about a year and a half of running experience. Your goal should be to train without injury, and to finish the half! Enjoy the run! A reasonable time goal (secondary to finishing) might be 2:30. If you can do a 5k in 30, 2:30 for the half is doable.

  31. I have to say. As the mom to two kids on the spectrum, I am extremely ambivalent about autism speaks. They do a LOT of good, but tend to focus on the negative almost exclusively, which is frustrating for those of us hoping to present a more balanced picture. Note, however, that I'm commenting. Because in the end, they do a LOT of good.

  32. It doesn't matter in what time you run it. It doesn't even matter if you finish the run or not. All it matters that you are going to start. I applaud you!

  33. Best of luck Paula- I found your post via twitter and 1) having grown up in Tally and 2) having worked with children with autism please know I'll be cheering for you and the awareness you're creating.

  34. Paula, you go girl!!!! I've had the same 30 minute goal (I've only kept that to myself until this moment) so if you have a breakthrough, let me know. Good luck and keep on being an inspiration to us all.

  35. I thank you for doing this. We have a nephew who has autism and he has never ceased to amaze us in his 19 years. Go Paula!

  36. Nothing could tear at you like feeling powerless to heal a hurt to your child. Thank you for your devotion this and so many other good causes.

  37. This brought tears to my eyes…Paula I think you are an amazing woman.I get it has to be Boston and it has to be this race. I was the smae way for my first half. I will keep you in my prayers and I know you can do this…”DON” FALL AND FINISH”

  38. Thank you for doing this – there are so many affected by ASD, and the numbers are growing. We need to stop the epidemic.

  39. Paula thank you so much for what your doing … what a wonderful, touching thing to do.. we would be so better off if there were more people in this world like you~!!!

  40. I think it is wonderful of you to do this, I am pushing “memory miles events” for Military families and we are attempting a fund raiser here for a two year old's medical bills (kidney cancer). Other friends are raising funds for charities also. I hope you meet your goal and more. Prayers are being sent – God bless!

  41. Good luck, Paula … I admire your strength and discipline, and your advocacy is inspiring. Wishing you the best!

  42. Thanks so much for your commitment to autism Paula! It has always been something near and dear to my heart as I know several children on the spectrum and there are never enough affordable services for them as you say!

  43. This is inspiring! As an aspiring teacher of students with disabilities, it is always amazing to see individuals showing great support & bringing disabilities to light. Thank you for running & good luck!

  44. My teaching partner has twins with autism. She routinely inspires me with how she celebrates the small things and smiles through the challenges. Thank you for helping families like hers!

  45. Beautiful woman with a beautiful heart 🙂 I have two little ones with an autism diagnosis. People like you make strides for their future every day. Thank you!

  46. I know a family with an autistic child. My experience with autism is limited to a few brief home visits, stories from the child's older brother, and a quick run to the hospital to assist the mom when the dad was overseas.

    Good luck and best wishes for bringing attention and assistance to a condition that the lives of so many. — a childhood friend

  47. Paula, you are one of the most special ladies I've ever met. I am so proud of you and excited for you. You are going to meet and exceed all of your goals! You're truly a gift, to me, to GWTC and now to the Autism community for grabbing a hold and not letting go, bringing funds and awareness to Autism research. Love you!


  48. You will do great, Paula! And if you need a partner for a long run I am happy to join you as long as it isn't at 10 p.m. I have a friend with not one but TWO autistic children.
    Beth Alexander

  49. If everyone would do half as much as you do to help others, the world would be a much better place.It is good hearted people like you that make me proud to be a part of Gulfwinds Track Club.I know you will be ready for 13.1 in Boston.I wish I could do more to help.Have fun at the race!

  50. Such a great cause. I used to work at a residential treatment facility for children with mental health issues, and dealt with children with disorders on the autism spectrum on a daily basis. God bless those children, their families, and others who love and work with them! Go Paula!


  51. Your willingness – scratch that, your enthusiasm – to support people is really astounding, Paula. You champion anyone who needs help, whether it be college students making movies for fun or parents trying to raise happy and healthy kids. You're the best. Thank you so much and good luck on your run!
    -Simone Lapidus

  52. There isn't anything I can say that hasn't already been said, Paula. Just know that while you are running 13.1, I'll be with you in spirit, pushing & encouraging you all the way to the finish line. You are an amazing lady!

  53. So proud of you and your advocacy for children with Autism. Boston is lovely in September. We will cheer you on from Tallahassee! Happy Training!

  54. Nancy Kaiser Winter Park, FL
    What a wonderful thing to do. Go Paula! You will be the winner of this race, regardless of your time!

  55. Go Paula! And after running, we shall go dancing all night!! 😉 You have a great heart (and legs), thank you for raising awareness and money for this!

  56. I love ur blog. U have so,much insight. My mom worked with autism children in middle school for years in jax. She loved them and they loved her. Then,my niece got to help autistic children for abt a year and was hired to help after school with one child. But then they decided only those with degrees could work there. Could not believe it! She and the children loved each other so much.

  57. It is a great cause what you are supporting…you should be so proud of yourself!!! Not too many people have the same passion that you do…I wish you the best of luck!!!

    You are my inspiration in so many ways!!!!

  58. Continue inspiring Paula and running through life's marathons.

    All the best,
    Mark Castaldo/Destiny Pictures

  59. Paula – I have been wanting to comment on this post for some time. You are such an inspiration in what you do and in the way you dedicate yourself in the service of others. So proud of you! And feeling very blessed that our lives crossed at literary mama!

  60. Amazing! Someone told me about the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day: I can walk 60 miles; I can sleep in a tent; I can even raise $2,500… it's doing all three at the same time that's overwhelming.

    You have your own trifecta of amazing!

  61. To my friend, and fellow runner…. run long and taper my friend. Keep running, inspiring, and reminding all of us runners that we can make each mile count for reasons far beyond our own health. Love to you girl!

  62. Paula, this is great! My brother has 2 autistic stepsons and our whole family has been learning more about autism. Thank you!

  63. Paula, I think you have 10 Whole Hearts! You do so much. Blessings to you as you run for this worthy cause!

  64. Thank you, Paula for such kind words on the Autism Speaks website regarding my blog. And, an even BIGGER thank you for adding Kyan to your list…words cannot begin to describe what that means to me! Thank you!!!

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