When Jamie-Lee Josselyn was 12 years old, she lost her mother to suicide. “She was 33 then, the age that I will be on race day,” says Josselyn, who will run the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Josselyn’s mother, who lost her own father to suicide when she was a teen, struggled with alcoholism and depression. The routine in their household was that there was no routine. “My mother was thoughtful and fun on her good days. On her bad days, I made myself scarce,” Josselyn says.
Today, Josselyn teaches creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania, and finds routine in running. “I love the structure of training for races as much as the races themselves,” she says.
In 2007, after finishing her first 10-mile race, Josselyn decided to train for the Philadelphia Marathon. She raced in memory of her mother and to raise money for AFSP. She’s run one 26.2-miler every year since; the TCS New York City Marathon will be her 10th.
Though Josselyn doesn’t struggle with mental health issues herself, she finds empowerment and affirmation in the sport. “Running is a constant form of self-care for me,” she says. “Before I ran, I didn’t feel physically strong—and I wanted to.”
This fall, she’s bringing that strength to the streets of NYC. “I’ve watched the New York City Marathon on television, I’ve cheered on the sidelines in Brooklyn, and I have run the NYC Half and the Brooklyn Half,” says Josselyn. “It’s time to do the real thing.”
Still, Josselyn will traverse the five boroughs with her mother on her mind. “Suicide is not my family’s legacy,” she says. “It is crucial to live my own life intentionally.”
By Hollis Templeton
GET YOUR STORIES ON. Read more inspiring stories from runners chronicling their journeys to the TCS New York City Marathon starting line.
TUNE IN. The 2016 TCS New York City Marathon will be televised live on Sunday, November 6, on WABC-TV, Channel 7 in the New York tri-state area from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET, and for the rest of the nation on ESPN2 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET.