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The Most Important Mile of my Life: Jana Rugg

Jana ran this trail after meeting her birth mother. This path is part of the Millinneum Trail in the Chicago area.
Jana ran this trail after meeting her birth mother. This path is part of the Millinneum Trail in the Chicago area.

Jana Rugg, mom of two from Tulsa, Okla., was able to process a significant life moment during a long run a couple of years ago.

The most important mile of my life was during an 8 1/2- mile run I took in Wauconda, IL in October 2011.  At age 46, I had met my birthmother for the first time just months before. The time had come, and I flew myself, my husband, and our two kids from Tulsa, Okla. to Illinois for the full-on reunion. We all stayed in the home my birth mother, her husband, and their four kids had lived in for many years. I was filled with all kinds of feelings, from happiness about being there and getting to know everyone, to anxiety over how they would feel about me and my brood. My family was getting to know her, my three half-sisters, and her amazing husband for the first time!

We arrived on a Friday night and went out for a nice dinner followed by conversation, some family games, and eventually bedtime. I got up early the next morning and set out for a nice long run. My brand new stepfather, Don, routed out a great course for me to follow: out of their neighborhood and through the cute downtown area, past the school and the soccer fields where my sisters had spent many hours playing as kids, onto the “Millennium Trail” which took me through some neighborhoods, and a big forest preserve.

I only saw a few people on this solo run, and as I took in my surroundings, my mind was full of thoughts about the siblings I had just met, how they grew up here, and what my life might have been like if I had not been adopted and had grown up here with them in this small little town North of Chicago. I passed the schools, the shops, the darling little downtown streets, and just took it all in, knowing at the same time that my husband and kids were back at the house with my newly discovered family and I wondered what and how they were doing.

The weather was crisp, much chillier than it was back in Oklahoma, and this made my run even that much more enjoyable. I think about this run quite often and will always remember it. In it, I allowed my mind to relax and let in all that might have been and all that could be, and I soaked in and savored the beauty of the moment. Today I continue to have a fabulous relationship with my birth mom and her family--it is a relationship that is growing and thriving.

Jana (center) with her birth mother and her birth mother's husband.
Jana with her birth mother and her birth mother's husband.

What was (or will be) the most important mile of your life? We want to know.

We’re going to make this an ongoing feature on the website (and potentially include some important miles in our yet-to-be-named third book, out in spring of 2015). Best way to submit is to email us your story with a picture: runmother {at} gmail {dot} com with “Most Important Mile” in the subject line. Please try to keep your mile stories under 300 words. Thank you!

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