Memories that Bind: From Race Shirts to a T Shirt Quilt
Allison O’Connor had her Project Repat tee shirt blanket made with shirts from the races and charity walks she has participated in. “I have been saving my race shirts since my very first one, the Naperville Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving Day of 2009. I have always been an active person but running to me was like a bucket list activity, it was a challenge to myself to see if I could do it. I started training at age 43 and for that first race I even had bronchitis. I was so proud of myself when I crossed that finish line!
Now that I am a full-fledged runner, I run with a college friend, Susan, who has helped push myself even farther. We ran the Warrior Dash, a mud obstacle race, my first 10K and the Chicago Ridge Run. I never thought I could do it but I finally decided last summer to register for the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February. My family and I planned a trip around the race and I even registered my twins for their very first race. I started training and powered through a few injuries. A week before the race I was diagnosed with a plantar plate tear in my left foot and put in a walking cast- I was devastated! It was a partial tear so the doctor said I could try to still run the half marathon if I wore the cast before and after, I did just that and received my medal"
The memories in Allison's race day t shirt blanket represent her achievements not only as a runner but as a mom, "Even better was watching my kids participate in the Disney Kids race. It was a 200 meter dash they ran with my husband and they had the time of their lives. My hope as a mother is that I can not only set an example of a healthy and active lifestyle but inspire my kids to set goals and achieve them. My husband is a runner too, I look forward to the day when we get to run a race as a whole family!
I also participated in the March of Dimes March For Babies and the American Cancer Society Relay For Life. It feels good to do something we love for such noble causes, especially ones that touch close to home. This year my husband, Frank, and I participated in our first canoe race, maybe the start of a whole new activity.
I have a "Runners For Boston" panel on my blanket. It is symbolic of the support fostered by the running community for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. I've always had an expectation of peace and safety during races just as many runners do. The running community is definitely a supportive one which was never more evident than after the Boston Marathon. I bought more than one Runners For Boston shirt and I definitely wear them with pride. Running has turned out to be an activity that not only improves my health and gives me peace of mind, but has also strengthened my relationships and brought me new friends. I guess the panel in the middle of the running t shirt blanket sums it up, The miracle isn't that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start"