When #MotherRunner Dede Owens posted to our Facebook wall a short, bittersweet tribute to her very first BRF, who passed away suddenly, we reached out. We asked Dede to flesh out her thoughts a bit more, and she graciously obliged. Here, her tribute to Michelle Landrith.
Reading facebook posts on October 18th, I could tell something was wrong. People were using words like, “gone” and “tragic.” These are never good words to read. I soon learned that a friend had in fact passed away that morning, and it was indeed tragic, and she was in fact gone. She was only 46.
I met Michelle Landrith through the Another Mother Runner Facebook page back in 2010. I was searching for a BRF, and she was a mom who loved to run and would do so with pretty much anyone who asked. We agreed to meet near her home in Orange County, California, at a shopping center. Since we didn’t really know each other, we thought it was best to meet at a neutral place. As soon as I saw Michelle, I knew this was going to work. She is the type of gal who bounced when she walked; so full of life that she can’t contain it. Her platinum blond hair was pulled back into a neat ponytail, and she was wearing a spotless visor. Her outfit, while I don’t remember it precisely, was no doubt beautiful and stylish; Michelle was a fan of Lululemon and wore it to perfection. I think I had on an old tech shirt of some kind and a sloppy skirt, but I was definitely inspired. We jokingly shared that our husbands (both named Ken) had concerns that the mystery woman his wife was meeting was surely a serial killer.
Well, clearly we hit it off and the rest as they say, is history. We ran several official races together, too: Chino Hills Trail Races, Disney Half, Pasadena Holiday Half--the gorgeous outfit there was a white Lululemon skirt--the LA Marathon. Now, I say “ran together," meaning, Michelle ran off ahead, her pace much faster than mine, and I trudged along behind, bringing up the rear. She almost always stayed to see how I would finish. While we hadn’t run together much lately, our connection through AMR was still strong. I knew without question that Michelle would always “like” a running post I put up.
I also knew that Michelle would post about her running adventures, about her races, her running groups, the amazing women she had inspired to run with her, or join her at a race, and always about her darling girls. Her oldest is a high schooler who is shining in academics and sport, and her youngest is a middle schooler who is tearing up the cross-country racing scene with a passion that is her mother incarnate--and I would “love” them all. My first ever BRF (Best runner friend) could inspire anyone to run with her, and she would encourage them every step of the way. So many people started to run because of Michelle’s inspiration.
On that fateful day, October 18, I looked deeper into the posts about Michelle and found out the details of the tragedy. She had been on a 7-mile run with a friend. When they finished, she felt dizzy. Suddenly she collapsed. Michelle never woke up, and died right there. The word “tragic” does not begin to cover this loss.
The world did not only lose a beautiful woman, but a loving wife, and perhaps one of the most encouraging mothers ever. She loved to talk about her girls, her family, her sorority, and her beloved friends on her runs. We would swap all kinds of funny and serious stories as all BRFs are want to do. We gave each other advice. We listened.
My greatest regret with my BRF is that I didn’t make enough time to be with someone so wonderful as Michelle. My advice? Make time to be with the wonderful people in your life. Call your BRF. Go for a run. If you don’t have a BRF, make one.
I hear that Another Mother Runner has a great Facebook page, and you can meet some pretty amazing people there. I know I did. She is running in heaven, and I know those wings make her fast. I can only hope they are made by Lululemon and that she qualifies for Boston with them.