Monday, September 26, 2011

Angels on Foot

"26.2 Miles of Running Heaven," pitches the Half Moon Bay International Marathon. Indeed the course boasts of a spectacular coastline view for much of the race. But I think the race is made much more heavenly by the supportive fleet of volunteers, staff, organizers, and enthusiastic race participants. I met a lot of angels on foot on this race.

"The runner with the pink rose!"
I've never felt such joy in running a marathon than HMBIM. My fellow runners were greeting me, smiling at me, giving me a thumbs up, running along with me, chatting with me, and even one runner, Sarah, crying with me. The spirit of caring was overwhelming. The beautiful people in every aid station cheered gloriously for me. They nourished me not only with water and sports drink but also with words of hope and encouragement. Knowing that I might not see the smile of these people again, I stopped by every aid station to share my story of what the pink rose is for and to show appreciation for their volunteering. I also stopped at around Mile 19 to enjoy the music of a trio and dance along. What is there to hurry when you hear beautiful music? I also promised to pray for the guitarist's mother who, I learned from him, has brain cancer. The spectators on the road also showed their good spirits, like one little boy shouted, "Here comes the runner with the pink rose!" Finally, the joy of victory at the finish line. I finished far from first place, but I definitely felt like a winner. With no less than the race director greeting me personally at the finish line, people clapping and cheering, and surrounded by the family and the high school friends of my wife who passed away from breast cancer six months ago.

I came to run this marathon to escape my grief after my wife's death; but instead, I experienced heaven and met angels on foot.

To my dearest wife, Jinky, I love you so much! I miss you terribly and how I wish you were still here to hear all about my race at Half Moon Bay. But today the pain was eased by the joy that I felt from the support of caring people I just met and from the love of your high school friends who was inspired to honor you and to do this run for you.

A pink rose for my wife
Joyfully approaching the finish line

My wife's family and friends, some of the angels on foot, in this heavenly run.


  1. Hi Jose - I stumbled upon your blog some time ago and thought it was fantastic. I love what you do! I actually passed you on the HMBIM trail and remembered your blog! You had a big smile on your face and looked me straight in the eye with encouragement. I was doing my first half marathon! So glad to have seen you on the trail and hope to see you on more. I know your wife is looking down on you and smiling... keep on running!

  2. we loved it when you stopped and played music with us around mile 19! I also remember seeing you on the course (I ran the 1/2 marathon). Thank you for sharing your story, your experience on the course, and your beautiful spirit --colleen

  3. @Alison - Thank you for your support and kind words. You also helped me to keep running and to move on...Thank you for reaching out to me and sending me your words of encouragement.

  4. @Colleen - Your music on the course reminded me that life is still good and beautiful. Sharing the music with you was living in the moment. "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" - thank you for the beautiful music! And congratulations on your half...hope to see on the road sometime again!

  5. What a beautiful post. I ran the 10K at HMBIM, and I remember cheering you on at the start of the marathon. While I wasn't sure of the exact meaning of the pink rose on that day, I had a feeling in was in remembrance of someone special. I'm sure your wife was smiling down on you during all 26.2 miles (and always).

  6. I was standing at the finish when you crossed and laid the rose down on the finish line. I then inquired about your story and it truly touched my heart. Thank you for such a beautiful and appropriate remembrance of your wife.