Run…Walk…Finish! A Team IOH runner’s story

How many times have we gotten to a point in life where we feel we can’t go any further?  Often, the way we make it through those times is through the help and encouragement of a friend.  In this blog, Lara Miller shares her experience about joining Team IOH for the Disney Marathon on January 8, 2012 – and the blessing of becoming friends and running with Nicole.

Lara and Nicole at mile 10, 2012 Disney Marathon

Lara and Nicole at mile 10, 2012 Disney Marathon

Lara writes:

My Team IOH Experience:

I was introduced to Inheritance of Hope through my boyfriend, Allen Milligan (Deric and Kristen Milligan’s nephew). After meeting Kristen and hearing her story, I thought, what a better organization to support? I started by volunteering to take pictures of Team IOH at the Disney Marathon (2011) where I was instantly inspired by the courage and strength of runners of all ages, shapes and sizes. I didn’t really have a choice after that; I was running a marathon for Team IOH! Next thing I knew, I had registered and started my training. Unfortunately, that came to a halt when the foot doctor presented me with the following options: “worst case scenario is a screw and a cast for about six months, mediocre case is just a cast for about four months, or best case scenario is there is no stress fracture and you will just have to take it easy”. Oh and did I mention I was signed up to volunteer at the NYC retreat in a few weeks?! Lucky for me, I fell in the category of best case scenario.

I was still in a lot of pain and decided to take two months off of training…leaving me with one month to train for a marathon…haha, yeah I laughed at the thought, too. I began training in run-walk intervals to save my body and my foot. I managed to train to where I could run a half marathon comfortably and figured I could just “wing” the rest. HA! That didn’t work out so well.

Lara Miller (in the red) at the Team IOH Pasta dinner

Lara Miller (in red), Nicole on right, at the Team IOH Pasta dinner

The night before the marathon, we all gathered for the spaghetti dinner where I met another young girl named Nicole Pomerinke who was also running the marathon the next morning. Now, my story doesn’t come close to hers, but I’ll give you a quick glimpse because I think it’s awesome! Nicole is from a very small town in Idaho (they still have square dances across the street, she said) and she had been training to run for about a year and was looking for a group or organization to run for. Long story short, after a few random clicks on the internet, she came upon Inheritance of Hope and the rest is history! She did a bake sale to raise money and then made her first visit to Florida to be a part of Team IOH. I hope she will share her story more, but that is what I gathered from the dinner. We chatted about our training and it turned out that we were expecting to finish the race at the same time! I was so relieved that I would have someone to run with.

The morning of the marathon as I was waiting in my corral, I wasn’t able to find Nicole. I thought, “well this is great…if I can’t find her now while we’re all standing still, how will I find her when we’re all running!?” But…I did! We had a different run-walk pattern so we were back and forth for the first half of the race, but the run was still AMAZING! As miles 15 and 16 came along we would see each other back and forth and slowly began to pick up on each other’s agony. By mile 20 we decided there was no way we could finish the race unless we stuck together for moral support, and so we did just that. We decided walking was just as painful as running so we might as well be running! We ran as much as we could, allowing our bodies to rest here and there, but we (or should I say Nicole) made a plan to run the whole last 1.2 miles.


At that point, I decided Nicole was crazy , lol (not really). I thought to myself “there was no possible way I can run a whole 1.2 miles now…I haven’t ran a full mile straight since the race started!” Nicole told me I didn’t have a choice and so I began to mentally prepare. When we saw mile marker 25, we looked at each other and said “here we go!” and then we were off (now don’t think we’re running fast…cause we’re not). The crowd was so motivating and kept us going and then…I saw the finish line! I was immediately filled with emotion and awe and “OMG I just ran 26 miles!?” We really took off at this point and sprinted across the finish line side-by-side representing Team IOH.

I’m not sure I would have finished without Nicole and I guess this is just another example to show that God has a plan for everything.

Caroline at Cinderella's Castle

Caroline at Cinderella’s Castle

On a side note, Lara didn’t know that she was a tremendous encouragement and blessing to another Team IOH runner, Caroline, before the marathon began. Caroline wrote to me, “Before the race I sort of just wandered aimlessly around in the dark. But then…as God always does…he provided for me and ran me smack into a fellow Team IOH runner. Finding Lara in that sea of people was just wonderful. We walked together to the starting line and swapped stories and hugs before we parted ways. It was just a wonderful reminder of how IOH continues to touch my life.”

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Jna

    Lara, I am so proud of you. Not surprised by any means but still amazed at all you do. Since All Star soccer and Karate at age 5 you have always been focused and passionate.
    There qualities have taken you a long way and the road ahead looks even brigher. I am lucky to have you as my daughter. Loving you always, mom

  2. KMilligan

    Oh, how I loved reading your story, Lara! You have been a great inspiration to me, and an encouragement and blessing to so many … hugs!

  3. De

    Lara, I loved reading your story. When I met you, I knew you had a spirit and drive for life. What a wonderful experience.

  4. Dad

    Lara: no father could be more proud or inspired by your story. I think God does have a plan for all of us and you have just narrated what faith, hope, love, friendship and inspiration are all about.
    I am so proud to call you daughter: you bring tears of joy and pride to my eyes.
    When did you become such a great author??
    Send my best to Nicole- I hope she reads this.

  5. Me

    The more I think about it, the more I realize that running into both Caroline and Nicole was so far from a coincidence. I just want to put this into perspective…

    For the full marathon, I believe there were 3 or 4 runners for Team IOH and 13,493 runners overall. I managed to run into Caroline before the race began while it was still dark and just a mass of people moving towards the start line and then out of my estimated corral number of 1,687 runners I “ran into” Nicole a few miles into the race?! Think about this people…it’s crazy! And really…after calculating the possibilities…that can only be a work of God 🙂

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