By the time I met Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young, she was smiling again. We connected as young widows and Dorina, more than anyone, has shown me that new love doesn’t replace lost love. It’s a joy to welcome Dorina as she shares about finding her second wind in life after loss.
* * *
After my husband Ericlee died from cancer in 2014, I wasn’t sure if I could ever run again. He was my coach, my running partner, and my biggest cheerleader. He logged hundreds of miles pushing our daughters in the jogging stroller and pushing me to personal records. We
ran dozens of races together through the years, and he even trained me for my first marathon.
That first week after his funeral, I ventured to a local track to workout with some friends. Sweat beaded on my brows. I laced up my running shoes. My 37-year-old body quivered as I tried to take a deep breath. It might have been the hair-dryer-in-your-face heat of that September evening in Central California. Or it might have been the heaviness of the grief that felt like a dozen bricks pressing on my chest.
Sometimes finding the courage to begin again is the hardest part.
I toed the line and took that first step. I ran once around the oval. Four hundred meters. A distance my body and brain have grown accustomed to after three decades of running.
Then I began to hear it.
Ericlee’s coaching voice seemed to boom from Heaven. He was telling me to lift my knees, to steady my breathing, to square my shoulders, and run. My eyes, body, and heart were lifted from grief to hope.
The prophet Isaiah says
“…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31, NIV).
These words remind us we are called to place our hope in Him.
We cannot trust in our own sense of control, courage, and purpose. He is the One who can help
us begin to walk and run again after crippling life circumstances.
In distance running, there’s a phenomenon called the “second wind.” It’s when an athlete is out of breath and believes they can’t go on, but suddenly gets a surge of renewed energy. I often experience it around mile 11 in a half marathon – right after I hit the wall in mile 10.
God can infuse us with a second wind when we chase Him on the trail of life.
I felt it that night at the track. A surge of energy that pulsed through my body. It felt healing to get back out there and honor my beloved. I knew he would want me to keep running, to live his legacy for our three daughters who were ages 2, 5, and 8.
After Ericlee’s death, running became my grief therapy. God helped me find my second wind in life after loss. Running helped me keep breathing and moving. I started running with a group of mamas on some mountain trails near my house. I began to experience God’s Presence in a powerful way when I put one foot in front of the other on the trail. My brain had space to process. My heart exhaled and cried out in prayer. And God met me there.
I know it was the Holy Spirit who prompted me to call my long-time running friend Shawn Young several weeks after my husband’s funeral. I saw the pictures on social media of Shawn running an Ironman race in Maryland in Ericlee’s honor and wanted to thank him.
After that first phone call, we started talking regularly. Shawn would check in on me and my three daughters to make sure we were doing okay. Our phone conversations felt comfortable.
Shawn was a safe person for me. He knew Ericlee well and wasn’t afraid to sit in the memories with me. Shawn and Ericlee had forged their friendship over their passion for running, coaching, and strong faith. He was in our wedding party. He visited us in California at least once a year and supported our non-profit work in Haiti.
We naturally started talking about running workouts and training. Shawn gave me coaching tips as I tried to get out to run again without Ericlee by my side. Through a wild weaving of events, Shawn moved back to California from Maryland to care for his widowed mother. While he lived in Los Angeles, he made frequent trips to Fresno to visit us and we rekindled our in-person friendship. I was uncertain of the steps at first. It was hard to imagine that God might be weaving together a second love story for me.
Despite all the voices in my head creaming not to step in, not to trust, not to risk having my heart shattered again, I knew God was inviting me into a new story.
Jesus continued to guide us step by step. I heard nothing but affirmation from my family and trusted friends gave their blessing. Even my mother-in-law, who had buried her son that previous year, welcomed our relationship with open arms. When we got engaged that following summer, she cried tears of joy that her granddaughters would have a daddy. She adopted Shawn as her son years before I was even in
the picture. There was no doubt in our minds this glory story was being written by God.
Marriage in all circumstances requires work and courage. We have to be willing to be vulnerable, to grieve together, and to share our hearts. I am filled with a deep gratitude to be on this new journey. I recognize it is a privilege to experience two loves in this lifetime. I also know
that God called me to be brave. And He provided the path.
Friend, maybe God is calling you to step out in courage today. Maybe your heart has been broken in the past. Maybe you have lost a loved one. Maybe you’ve had to move on from a job, a church, a neighborhood or a calling, and your heart is still grieving. Sometimes we find ourselves running a race we never chose to enter.
Hold on to hope and look for His glory on the path. In His strength, we can soar to the finish line.
On January 16, 2016, Shawn and I were married in a glory-themed wedding. Throughout the ceremony, we shared stories and music illuminating how God had shown us His glory through every step of our journey. We donned our running shoes at the reception and danced the night away with our daughters in the spirit of Psalm 30:
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and
clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my
God, I will give thanks to you forever!” (Psalm 30:11-12, ESV).
Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young and her husband, Shawn, have authored a devotional book, Walk, Run, Soar. This unique 52-week devotional and training journal is designed for walkers and runners longing to experience God’s presence in a deeper way. Whether you’re new to running or a longtime runner,