I walked across the bridge Sunday morning from the Kentucky side to the Ohio side and toward the finish line of the 2014 Flying Pig Marathon route to root for my friends, to root for strangers, to root for anyone who looked like they were struggling. I had thought about staying away, it was hard to stand there as a spectator after two back to back years of being involved in the races. It’s strangely addictive, and I am not sure how to describe it other than it’s a community, a family of people who are not defined by their abilities but simply by there willingness to try.
A few weeks ago I was very upset when it was confirmed I would not be able to participate, I put off writing about it because I didn’t really know what to say and I felt like I had let so many people down, let the dogs down, let Recycled Doggies down and let myself down. My knee is injured, I have to take care of it and keeping the big picture in mind I simply could not push through one race and jeopardize an injury that could possibly keep me off my feet for months. Not worth the risk, I get it, but it’s still a bitter pill to swallow.
Then one morning I opened my e-mail and saw I had something from an old college friend in my inbox. Krista has been the voice of reason for me so often over the past several years, she is really good at just popping up right when I need her honest insight into the tough tree trunk road blocks that end up in my way. I am going to share her words with you, because when I thought about the questions she was asking, the answers became the lesson I have learned.
“It’s hard to have your mind willing and your body not. You must listen to it and go slow to go fast. You will not disappoint us all if you don’t get the Pig in this year. To me, the real victory came months ago when you registered. To be willing to commit to that race is HUGE. I briefly thought about signing up for it again after you did and then reconsidered. I chickened out. It’s the mindset, Lori. You wanted it and weren’t intimidated. Or at least you weren’t intimidated enough. Really think about that for a minute. In just a couple of years how far you have come from trying to get up the guts to do a 5K and then you were joining in for a half marathon? Especially knowing it would mean a lot of work over the winter – and let’s be clear, this winter was crazy hard. That takes true courage and I’m hoping you just learned something about yourself. You got steel in there, girl. I’m sure it doesn’t feel like it at times but try to be objective for just a moment and stand outside yourself. How impressed would you be with someone like you? What would you think about your resolve, work ethic, and resilience? My god, the resilience. I continue to be so proud of you. I just can’t say it enough.”
First of all, the gift of having someone with such perspective who is willing to say the words, and challenge me to the questions might be part of the lesson, actually I know without a doubt it IS the lesson learned. As I thought about those questions, it occurred to me my old self who was so good at making excuses, was no longer in the drivers seat. I was not being the queen of masterminding an excuse to not follow through with something that scared me and certainly not something as big as committing to a half marathon, this was something that happened to me, not because of me and I will have to deal with it. I so badly wanted to do this race, I was training, I had worked hard and when I got injured, my knee simply could not take doing the 13.1 miles, not walking and certainly not running. If I pushed through, the result could possibly have sidelined me for several months.
How impressed would you be with someone like you? I got up this morning on race day and with a bit of a heavy heart, but I could not stay away. I walked the bridge from the Kentucky side over into Ohio and along the race route. I walked about a half mile from the finish line and I parked myself right up against the heavy metal barricade fencing, picking out what turned out to be the perfect spot for what was about to happen.
What would you think about your resolve? As the runners and walkers streamed by I thought about Billie rooting me on the WHOLE way of my very first race, those 3.2 miles were filled with her enthusiasm and kind spirit, her words blowing life into my failing feet. This morning it started out like a small pinprick yelling meagerly to the first man who looked like he was struggling, “You’re almost there, you can do it”! Then I looked down the stretch and saw a little boy holding out his hand for any of the participants to come to him for a boast of encouragement, it was there unconditionally for the taking. It matters, the support matters and what if there are people who don’t have anyone rooting for them? I found the words rushing right through me as I yelled to each and every person I could. “You got this!”, “You’re almost there, PUSH, PUSH, PUSH” I also began clapping and I even called out to one woman who looked like she was beginning to break.. “Don’t you give up sweetheart, you’re almost there!” I saw Jessica come through the path, doing an amazing job in the relay for the PawJoggers team, I only wished I could have seen her other team mates come through, Jessy and of course Billie, even though I didn’t see them they were the target of much cheering! I saw Nikki long enough to grab a hug as she had just finished a great race doing the half marathon, and I also ran into Deb, who had made her way to BOTH of the finish lines for my races in the previous two years always there with a smile and hug. She had a amazing race, and I am so proud of her! I was sad to miss seeing my friend Justin, who has worked so, so hard to complete his first full marathon, but he knows I was thinking of him and rooting him on in spirit the whole way. I think that being a part of something like this becomes about so much more than yourself, it’s about reaching out to those around you in a moment of need, without expecting anything back in return. Imagine in your hardest moments of life you had a crowd of people who you didn’t really know unconditionally offering up heartfelt encouragement to just keep going. It’s a simple gesture really, but one that motivates, fulfills lifelong dreams, and perhaps gives hope to one girl to simply keep moving forward to the finish line, perhaps this girl.
Work ethic? I do have to heal, and my knee will get better. If I want to run, really run, I have to lose more weight, those were the words from the doctor who was very encouraging but the reality is that running any long distance is not going to happen unless I am thinner. Do I want to run? Does it mean that much to me? I think it does. I may never be able to run a whole half marathon without stopping to walk portions of it but I will give it everything I have to try again next year, to be the one struggling through the last half mile to the finish line.
Resilience? The day I stopped being my own worst enemy is the day I began living my life. We are about to find out just how much I have in me, don’t count me out just yet. Krista, my attempt to complete 2015 Flying Pig Half goes out to you, friend.