As 2017 comes to an end, one thing has become crystal clear. If you want magic in your life, you have to create it. Magic doesn’t find you. You have to bring it to your life.
Living life awake doesn’t just happen. Every day you have to deliberately make the choice to wake up.
It’s risky. Sometimes it hurts. It leaves you exposed. And it’s magical.
Maybe that’s what makes New Year’ Eve and the New Year so appealing. It’s an ending and a beginning all within one second of each other. The ball drops, and you get a brand new year.
That’s the magic. That’s being awake.
Within one second of everything in life is being alive. You never know when your one breath away from your best or your worst. When the ball drops or things fall apart, you get to start again. If we never let the ball drop, we never get a new beginning.
As 2018 approaches, I have one goal. It’s to observe life without judgement. It’s to allow myself (and others) to exist as I am.
I belong awake.
We belong awake.
The only way to live is to allow ourselves to be one second and one breath away from our best or maybe our worst.
Cheers to a life of magic. Cheers to being awake.
“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert
Cheers to 2018, a year to let go of judgement, to observe, and to participate relentlessly in living life awake!
Just observe. Do not judge. These words have become the echo to all my thoughts and actions. I didn’t know it when I went to that yoga class a month ago that the practice would become the welcome mat to this next chapter in my life. I didn’t even realize on that night I was turning the page to a new chapter.
When life is challenging, how do you feel? How do you react? Our instructor asked us these questions? I answered them. During my practice, when it got hard I judged myself. I’ve done the same in life. I’ve felt weak and not strong enough. I’ve questioned my mind and my heart. I’ve forgotten to welcome it all. I’ve forgotten that there is no right or wrong. There is just being.
You can’t exist in the present if your not observing what your feeling.
You can’t exist in the present if you’re judging your reactions.
This practice doesn’t just apply to the times when life is challenging. It also applies to the times when life is good, when you feel alive, and when you feel awake. Just Observe. Don’t judge. My year of waking up started as a goal for my spring race season. It twisted and turned and become less about running and more about living.
It’s a simple practice, yet it is nearly impossible to implement. Since that yoga practice, I have craved more. I’ve felt myself being drawn back to my roots and all the thing that ground me. I feel myself being pulled towards my yoga mat, the trails, and movement. I feel myself existing in my body and through my body.
When asked what is next, I’ve answered over and over again that I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. But I do know. This new chapter is less about what and more about existing.
Existence comes from observation. Existence lacks judgment. Existence happens when we embrace who we are.
This week I placed my rooted mala around my neck. It’s been a long time since I’ve reached for this set of beads. I was feeling unsteady and unsure. When I bought this set of beads, I wanted a reminder to stay rooted in my life, in my family, and in my community. I was creating a foundation. This time it feels different. This time the roots are not things, this time the roots are me.
Life can be so complicated and noisy. Marriage gets hard. Parenting is never easy. It’s easy to fall away from who you are.
But then something happens, and your invited back to who you are. It can be something as simple as unrolling your yoga mat and a simple movement of your body. Just Observe. Don’t Judge. If you don’t, you’ll miss the invitation to exist in your entirety. You’ll miss the welcome mat to your life.
“Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
There’s a reason why the word full is part of fulfillment. In order to be fulfilled, life has to feel full. Your heart has to feel full. This weekend I came head on with the meaning of being full. If you’re not careful, if your perspective isn’t right, fulfillment can feel heavy.
My alarm went off Saturday at 4:20am, and I contemplated sleeping in. I knew if I did I’d be robbing myself of my Sunday, so I woke up. I headed towards the beach to tackle another long run in this training cycle. I was tired. I’ve had a full two weeks that included travel, working a race expo, racing, and a charity gala on top of my daily duties of self, wife and mother. As Saturday approached my full week was tipping the scale towards exhaustion instead of fulfillment.
I ran predawn miles with a new friend. I met my training team for more miles as the sun rose. As the miles ticked by, I felt heavy. I felt tired. I started to feel overwhelmed and burden by all that I’ve been carrying. I knew it was time to let my pack run ahead of me.
As I slowed to a walk, my running partner Jaime slowed down too. With nothing but compassion and encouragement in her eyes she said to me I’ll slow down if you need me, but I’ll let you be if you need that too. In that moment I knew I needed to turn inward, and I needed to do it alone.
I moved forward. Slower than my new normal pace, but I was moving forward.
Our team ran trails on Saturday. When I came time to head towards the exit of the park, I made the decision to turn left. I still had at least 7 more miles to conquer. The moment I turned left to head deep into the woods on the back trails, I knew I was going to be okay. I didn’t give up. I didn’t give in. I kept moving forward.
I walked most for those 5 miles in the woods. I walked, and I sorted things out in my brain.
Things can be hard, and I can be okay.
A run can be slow, and I can be okay.
It’s a new concept for me. When things have been hard, it’s defined my entire life. Hard things equal a hard life. Turning left into the woods was a defining moment for me. I realized while wandering through the woods that sometimes to get out of your head you have to be willing to go into you head. Hard things simple equals a hard thing.
I’ve been busy. I’ve been tired. I’ve also never been happier. My new busy and tired has forced me to reprioritize my time and where I place my energy. It’s made me more intentional at home as a wife and as a mother. It’s made me reflect on how I take care of myself and my body.
Never in my life have I felt more fulfilled. That fulfillment, that feeling so full, can be quickly twisted into exhaustion and being overwhelmed if you forget to approach life with gratitude.
After my five miles of walking, a little running, and a lot of thinking, I left the woods feeling renewed. I was greeted by my Training Team the moment I emerged. They sent me off to finish the last 2+ miles of my run with a smile on my face.
The moment I finished I knew it was worth it. I had my Sunday back to spend time with my boys. This particular Sunday was better than most. It included squeals of delight as Chet experienced flying through the sky for the first time. It included Cole experiencing freedom as he wandered Busch Gardens with a friend by himself for the first time.
Life is full, and my heart is so incredibly fulfilled. I may just need to go to bed a little earlier to fight off the exhaustion.
This is the number on the race clock as I crossed the finish line beaming today at the Rock n Roll Philly Half Marathon.
Let’s start with the truth. I’ve been struggling with confidence as my running has slowed down. Years of chasing sub 2, and missing it by one minute and missing it by a lot left a void in my journey. Somewhere along the way faster equaled better. Sub 2 was good. Everything else felt like failure (for me and my personal journey). I’ve had so many wins along the way, but a cloud clung to me as I failed to perform physically at the speed I wanted to perform.
Summer running rocked my confidence some more. With a marathon on the horizon, I’ve run more miles this summer than I’ve ever run. Runs have been slow. The 9 minute miles are a distant memory. Not running 9s anymore caused me to doubt my ability to run. Somehow running 10s, 11s, and 12s seemed less than (for me and my personal journey).
Let’s talk about the reality of this race. I was in Philly to work the expo. This meant standing for hours each day on concrete floors. This was also my first visit to Philly. This meant walking double digit miles each day to explore. My goal for this race was to run faster than 2:30. Based on my recent runs, the humid and hot forecast for race day and my lack of confidence, this felt like the appropriate goal for me.
The first 3 miles hurt. My legs and feet were fatigued. My calves were cramping. I doubted my race. I held on. I knew I’d walk through each water stop to hydrate, so I just needed to make it to each stop.
By mile 3, my legs loosened up! The course entertainment was amazing, and I reminded myself to smile. I wasn’t there to prove anything, but I was there to prove to myself I could embrace my race regardless of pace and all those false lies I have told myself for years of faster being better. I could have my best race yet without setting a personal record on the race clock. Mentally I felt better than I’ve ever felt in a race.
At Mile 5, my favorite elite runners ran by cooling down from their own blazing fast race. I love the sport of running and sharing the course with these athletes is one of the many reasons I run. What other sport allows you to compete with the pros?
By Mile 9, I was feeling the fatigue, the hills, and the humidity. But that’s race day. Mile 9 shouldn’t feel good. Mile 9 is the place to start working. After my third stop at medical for Vaseline for my chafed thighs, I spotted a girl I had seen at every medical tent dealing with the same issues. We said hi and decided to run together. I found energy in my run again.
By mile 12, I felt like a brand new runner. All the fatigue had left my body. All the doubt had left my mind. A mile later I crossed the finish line feeling more confident than I’ve felt in a very long time.
The cloud of doubt that was lingering over my ability to preform at the New York City Marathon disappeared today. I’m working on getting physically ready, but today I proved I’m mentally ready.
Faster doesn’t equal better. Not for me. Pouring my heart into something I love, dedicating my time and my effort to achieve something great, and overcoming mental doubts and insecurities, that’s my version of best. That’s why I run. I run to know that I can handle whatever gets thrown my way and I’ll always cross the finish line feeling proud.
Tomorrow morning is Day 1 of marathon training. I’m staring at the start line of a new chapter that I know will transform me. Marathon training has a way of stirring my soul. Every marathon has a story. I can’t wait to run my way through this one.
New York City Marathon Prologue: The Day before Training Begins.
I’ve lost confidence in my physical ability. My body feels weak. My running feels clunky. Staring at my training plan scares me.
How I got here doesn’t matter. How I move forward does. My challenge at the start of this training cycle is to meet myself where I’m at while allowing myself to grow. My challenge is to not look back and compare this training cycle to the other 3 marathons I have run. This marathon is new. The good and the bad of previous trainings have nothing to do with right now.
I know the only way to start this training cycle is to write. Words are how I face my emotions, yet my writing right now feels as awkward and as clunky as my running. While I know exactly how it feels to train for and run a marathon, I have no idea how this training cycle will go. While I know how to write, my words aren’t coming naturally right now.
And that’s okay! Starting this cycle feeling insecure about my physical ability is making me want to control every outcome. Isn’t this how it always work? When uncertainty appears, my need to control kicks in to overdrive.
Tomorrow is Training Day 1. I will tackle Day 1. I’ll put a check next to tomorrow’s workout. Then I’ll tackle Day 2. The only thing I can control is the moment I’m in.
Because of work obligations, I won’t be pacing for the J&A Racing Training Team this fall. While I’ve run for myself for years prior to pacing, the last two years I’ve been pacing others towards their goals. Running for myself feels forgeign again.
I’ve always relied on my running to fulfill all other aspects of my life. Running has made me a better wife and mom. It has pushed me to explore. It has given me friendships. It has given me success. For the first time ever, I’ll be relying on my confidence in other aspects of my life to fulfill my running. My confidence in every aspect of life has grown because of running. My career is blossoming because of running.
Running will be simply running. It will be just me and my running shoes tackling miles every week. I’ll be running simply for the joy of running. I’ll be running for me. This is new, awkward, clunky, and slightly terrifying. But tomorrow it begins. Tomorrow I start training.
It’s just running. I’ll find my stride. I’ll get there, but for now, it’s simply time to start.
When this training cycle all began back in January, I wasn’t trying to accomplish anything. My only goal was to recommit to my training. I saw gaps in my previous training cycles, and I wanted to over come them. I wanted to conquer early morning runs so family time in the evening wasn’t sacrificed. I wanted to tackle tempo runs that terrified me. I wanted to be invested in myself and my family, and I knew my running shoes would take me there. I knew those early morning wake ups would result in better days. I knew tackling my tempo runs would add vibrancy to daily interactions.
With each training run, I felt more alive. I became more engaged. Work flourished. My commitment to the running community took off. Every corner of my life felt fulfilled.
When life is good, running is good.
While the weeks between the Shamrock Marathon and my race in Delaware were not picture perfect (hello Flu and goodbye husband who was out of town for work commitments), my coach was quick to remind me that there are many chapters that make up our race day story. I was ready for race day.
I was confident. I was scared. I was excited. For the first time in a long time, I wanted a personal best. I didn’t just want a strong race and a happy race, I wanted to be my best.
There is no better time to risk failing than when life is good. I had nothing to loose. I finally had the confidence to recognize that I do want a 1 as the first number of my half marathon PR. I’ve never doubted that my legs have the ability to move so much faster than they ever have, but I have always doubted that my training was perfect enough, that my body felt strong enough or fast enough for it to happen on race day.
Going into this race I still wasn’t sure, but I didn’t care. I wanted to try. I wanted to take the risk. I needed to take the risk.
Race day arrived. I had nerves, but I knew this was good. It was a sign of my desire to reach for something just out of my reach. I knew I could do it. I felt it. It was mine to claim. With my dear friend Karen by my side, our race started as corral 2 was released on to the course. We made our way north along the coastal highway. The weather was perfect. The light breeze felt refreshing. The course that was waiting for us was gorgeous. It was going to be a great day.
We were running. My body felt engage. I wasn’t having hip pain. As doubts appeared, I quickly pushed them away. But something wasn’t right. I had no energy to give. I hoped that mile 1 was a liar, but mile 2 told the same story. So did mile 3, 4, 5 and 6. By the time we crossed the 10k mark, I had used every trick I knew to keep myself going. All I wanted to do was nap. I wanted to stop, lay down, close my eyes, and try again. My legs felt great, my breathing was easy, but I was so fatigued.
In my self proclaimed year of waking up, the last thing I expected to feel on race day was a deep desire to sleep. When I couldn’t will myself to move forward any more, I walked and all those ugly doubts I’ve spent a lifetime telling to move on took my break as an invitation to move back in. I was sad. I was embarrassed. I was disappointed. I felt like I let everyone down. At mile 11 after run/walking for the last 3 miles, a sob came out of nowhere.
I wanted that 1:xx half marathon time not just for me, but for my husband who has supported my crazy love of running for longer than our marriage. I wanted it for my coach who has invested so much into me as a runner but even more so as a person. I wanted it for my boys and my parents who give up weekends so I can race.
My race plan was to place an exclamation point at the end of this training cycle for myself but also as a thank you to everyone who invests in me. At mile 11 I felt like the opposite of an exclamation point. I just felt sad. And tired.
I crossed the finish 11 minutes later than I had hoped, and I knew I needed a few minutes to digest everything that had just happened on the race course. After a few intentional inhales and exhales, I wiped the tears off my face and joined my husband (who just so happened to place 2nd in his age group at the 9k) and friends for a celebratory beer!
The disappointment clung to me on Sunday. It followed me to dinner and to coffee and to a walk on the boardwalk. It hung out through dinner and while playing scrabble with my husband. I fell asleep with my sadness, and I slept more deeply than I have in ages.
I woke up on Monday with a fresh perspective. I woke up with gratitude for everything that went wrong the day before. I woke up and loved every moment of the 2 hours and 11 minutes I spent on the race course.
On Sunday, I showed up to race day ready to take the risk. I took the leap. I didn’t fly this time, but I showed up to the race with the courage to try. I showed up with the desire to want more.
This race brought me right back to the reason why I run. I’ll always run happy. I’ll always run for the community of running. But I also run for me. I run to be the best version of myself. I run to polish my heart. Chasing dreams is what I’m made of. This race connected every dot for me. In my failure to fly on race day, I saw all the beauty around me as I made my way back to the ground.
Aiming to be your best does exactly that. It makes you your best. Just like I knew my running shoes would deliver me to my year of waking up, my running shoes will also deliver me to be the best version of myself. Whether I snag a PR on race day or not, its the journey of wanting it, going after it, and showing up for it that matters most.
Running is never just running for me, but it is also just running. This entire training cycle has been layered with so much success. My worlds are colliding in the best possible ways and this race brought that all into focus for me. I’m awake. I’m engaged. I’m loving this life of mine.
I wanted an exclamation point on race day. I didn’t get it. What I got instead was a training cycle and a life worthy of ending with a exclamation.
Perfection is found in the process.
Our best is found in trying.
Give me a life of striving!
I’d much rather enjoy the journey than simply celebrating the finish line.
As the days have grown longer, running after work on Tuesdays and Thursdays has quickly become my new pattern. With daylight illuminating every new path, I have an endless amount of new ground to cover. Each week my runs have expanded. My normal 3 mile loop has grown into four or five or six miles. On my map, my reach has expanded. More sunshine has casted light on my confidence to explore.
Isn’t this how it always works? A new running route, a new adventure, or a new chapter of life can cause me to become timid. While navigating the new course, I’m cautious. Then the light creeps in. Comfort is discovered. Confidence grows. My circles expand.
This year has been all about recognizing the ripples in life. Circles are expanding. Some of them are literal circles like my running path at work. Others are as figurative as the expansion of energy rippling outward from my heart and lungs.
On Friday I sat across from my running coach. It’s two weeks until race day. Like all the other ripples in my life , our trust and understanding of each other has also expanded. He has known long before me what I need from my running. Today I’m trusting it too.
For some people, running is simply running. Race day is the day to put your game face on, turn off your emotion and compete. I wanted this. I wanted nothing more than to take my head and my heart out of the equation. I thought to compete I needed to silence the part of me that felt too much and thought too much. In order to perform at my best, I spent many years trying to simply perform. Give me a race plan. Let me execute it. I thought that was the winning strategy because for some it is. For some runners it works brilliantly. My running coach may have always know this doesn’t work for me.
Silencing the part of me that thinks too much and feels too much is like chopping of my legs. I was fighting myself instead of racing. I had lost before I even started. Feeling too much and thinking too much is my strength.
I left that meeting with a very simple race plan. Race day is my exclamation point.
Two Tuesdays ago I was supposed to run mile repeats: three of them, four if I was feeling on fire. My legs wanted nothing to do with it. They’d only run one pace, and that was easy. I finished my run a little deflated. I had some thinking to do. Did I want race day to be an attempt at a personal best or did I want to run easy? What did I need from the race?
All week I had dreams filled with memories that made me feel alive. I had dreams that kept connecting me to times where I felt uninhibited and free. When I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and recall life moments that take my breath away, there is always one that stands out the most. It wasn’t my wedding day or the day I birthed my boys. It’s a simple night in Austin, Texas. After sitting speechless on a staircase listening to Andrew McMahon play music on his piano, I walked out on to Sixth Street. Surrounded by friends, we raced. We ran down the streets chasing nothing but the feeling of being alive. Maybe it was Austin, maybe it was the music, maybe it was the brand new territory in my life, but that night I knew what magic felt like.Because I know better than to try to seperate my life from my running, I knew there was something hidden in my dreams.
That’s the one thing.
There’s no safety in desire.
Preserving life is as good as dying.
🎵Andrew McMahon, So Close
This ripple pattern that I’ve come to notice in my life, it expands or contracts based on me. So many times I feel myself shrinking and caving in. So many times in my life I’ve felt so close to achieving it, touching it, experiencing it, and I’ve shrunk back out of fear.
And these could be the best or the darkest days.
The lines we walk are paper thin
And we could pull this off or push away
🎵Andrew McMahon, So Close
My biggest challenge is in letting go. Once I find my edge, too many times I’ve retreated backwards. How many times have I cheated myself out of enjoying the free fall that comes once we embrace the edge? How many times have I not run down the street for no other reason than it feels good to run? Once you push beyond the panic, the magic of life is waiting.
So close to giving up
So close to going all the way
So close to taking off
So close to going no where
🎵Andrew McMahon, So Close
At the beginning of this training cycle, I drove to the oceanfront with Andrew McMahom playing in my car. His song So Close playing too loudly for 6am.
As I drove I thought to myself, running is the punctuation of my life. It defines the content. It gives structure and shape to everything I do.
On Friday as I told my running coach I didn’t want a race plan, that I wanted to run reckless, that I wanted to get so close and not give up out of fear.
I wanna go there.
I wanna go there.
🎵Andrew McMahon, So Close
With every thought, every feeling, I’m showing up in Delaware. There is no plan A, B or C. There is no pace to hit for each mile. There are no bullet points outlining the details of my plan. There is only an exclamation point – the one my coach drew on my notebook after I told him what I needed from this race.
As much as I love pacing my training team and supporting on race day, I have discovered that in order to push my teammates, I need to push myself. Since I’d be on the sidelines during the half and full marathon on Sunday, I took the opportunity to race the 8k on Saturday.
I had two goals: PR (sub 44:09) and run faster than I did at the Wicked 10k (8:39 pace).
I didn’t taper. I didn’t prepare for this race. The day before I worked from 6:30am until 9:00pm. There was a lot stacked against me and if I wanted to look for an excuse to have a bad race, there was a lot I could have grabbed a hold of race morning.
Quite frankly, I’m sick of not PRing. I’m sick of having mediocre races. I was either going to hit my goal, or I was going to crash and burn. I was going for it.
Race morning I took my place in the second corral with my kickass friend Karen by my side. She was ready to be my reality check if I started to falter. In front of me in corral 1 was my husband. Given the day and our own individual races, I knew he had a great shot at beating me for the first time. I also had a shot at catching him.
Karen and I started fast. Heading south we had the wind in our face. We both laughed knowing I was too fast for a conservative start, but sometimes you just have to roll with it. The first 3 miles felt like work, but in a five mile race I knew I needed to work the entire race.
8:26 8:39 8:44
After mile 3, I was freed from the boardwalk. I may have let out a primal moan as Karen and I made our way North. I was ready to be done. At mile 4, my teammates had created an epic cheer zone. I felt like a celebrity.
As I hit my last mile, I felt the all to familiar feeling of panic. My head started spinning. Breathing felt impossible. For the first time ever in a race I said out loud “I need to calm myself down”. As soon as the words left my mouth, my anxiety followed. I had acknowledged it, and I had let it go. Mile 4 felt awful and amazing all at the same time. I knew a PR belonged to me.
As soon as I crossed the finish line, I saw my husband’s smiling face. I had forgotten about him on the course as I ran my own race, but was curious to see who won the Maute show down.
The race wasn’t even close. He destroyed it with a finish time of sub 40 (sub 8 minute miles). Christian is the official owner of the fastest Maute crown. Not too shabby for a guy who ran 11 minute miles a year ago.
My official time: 42:40 (8:33 pace). A new PR and a perfect set up for my half marathon next month.
While the PR and the pace feel amazing, I’m even more proud of my ability to mentally overcome the panic that normally takes me down. The wheels didn’t fall off. I’ve got this!
“On a given day, a given circumstance, you think you have a limit. And you then go for this limit and you touch this limit, and you think, ‘Okay, this is the limit’. And so you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high.” ~Aytron Senna
31 days until the Coastal Delaware Half Marathon. With Shamrock behind me, I plan on being selfish with my running for the next four weeks to see what my legs (and my head) can do for a half marathon. The goal is the same as always! Sub 2.
“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.” ~Mark Amend
If I could pick the shape of my heart, I’d draw a shamrock in the middle of my chest. Shamrock Marathon weekend is my heartbeat. It’s the place I discovered my strength. Over the course of 13.1 miles in 2010, I became the narrator of my own life. Prior to that race, I lived the life I thought I should love. After I crossed that finish line, I began to live the life I wanted. Shamrock Marathon weekend empowers me year after year.
This year my shamrock story began to take shape as I stood on the sidelines of the Richmond marathon last November. I witnessed “coaches” running up and down the course encouraging their runners. The moment I saw it, I knew that was the role I wanted to own race weekend.
It didn’t take much convincing for my coach to say yes. In fact I think he said yes before I finished asking. My friend and fellow pacer, Steve and I would strategically place ourselves outside Fort Story before mile 10 and mile 23 of the Shamrock half and full marathon.
Race morning arrived along with terrible weather. You won’t read a race report that doesn’t talk about how the cold/rain/snow/sleet/hail/gail force winds impacted everyone’s race. As course support, I couldn’t let this impact me. I packed multiple outfits, extra shoes, and four coats. I needed to be ready.
My job as a spectator started with the half. I watched the first half of the race head north from 80th street. With enough time to catch the front runners, I made my way to 89th street. This is when my real work began. It was time to run with my team.
Our fast runners came through. Tucked in with pace groups, they looked strong. I knew the race belonged to them. One by one my teammates came off the fort. They arrived faster than I expected.
Every half marathoner looked strong. They were focused. They had fight. Not a single one faltered. Steve and I ran up and down Atlantic Ave between 89th and 82nd street running with our teammates and cheering on every other racer. It was a tough day, and if I could give someone a boost of energy, I was going to do it.
As the last half marathoner came through, the weather took a turn for the worse. Maybe it had already been that bad but when I was running with my team I was oblivious to the weather. When I stopped moving and waited for the marathoners to make their way to us, my body began to falter. Wet, cold, shivering, and a slight shade of blue, Steve and I took cover under a tree. Time stood still, and the ugly doubt that creeps in on race day found me. Trembling, I wasn’t sure I could endure several more hours of the weather. Steve saw me falter, and like a true friend and pacer he came to my rescue. He was able to move my car from 80th to 89th so I could remove my wet layers, blast my heat, and warm my body up. He took over so I could stop shaking.
Our first marathoner came through. Seeing Steve run with our dear friend unfroze my brain. I had a job to do. I put dry socks on my feet, layered on clothes that felt the least wet, and I resumed my position on the course.
The marathoners needed us more than ever. By Mile 23, everyone hurt. Everyone was frozen. Everyone had doubts. Everyone wanted to be done. My job was to shower them with positivity and praise as they attacked their final 5k.
One by one Steve and I ran with every runner. The race course felt like a ghost town. Unlike the crowded half, the marathon felt empty. The familiar faces of our team were easy to spot. We tied shoes. We opened Gus. We dug water bottles out of camelbaks. We ran. We high fived. We didn’t stop until we found our last runner.
After nearly 8 hours of running with our team, Steve and I had crossed our finish line. The race was done.
While the logistics of the day are easy to describe, the emotion of the day keeps slipping away from my finger tips. I got to witness everything. I saw hope and strength. I saw gratitude and fight. I saw desperation and panic. I saw courage. I saw the spirit of what it means to be human for 8 hours, and for a moment I was able to add positivity to someone’s day.
While every single runner responded to Mile 10 and Mile 23 in a different way, there was one common theme amongst all my teammates. When they were at their edge and at the point of breaking, they all had one question. They wanted to know how everyone else was doing? They wanted to know if a teammate and friend was on pace for their goal. They wanted me to know a teammate was right behind them. They told me what they were wearing so I wouldn’t miss anyone. Everyone was more concerned about a teammate then themselves. At their lowest, my teammates wanted to make sure their teammates were given the support they needed.
I learned more than I ever thought I would on Sunday, and yet I saw once again the same lesson every marathon I’ve ever run has been trying to show me. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you run. It doesn’t matter how many miles you conquer.
Strength matters. Be strong enough to stand alone.
Being smart matters. Be smart enough to know when you need help.
Bravery matters. Be brave enough to ask for help.
Collectively our entire team was strong, smart and brave on race day. This is the magic of our team. We are our best when we are together.
And just like that, the season is over. The bad weather moved out. The sun started to shine as the finish line came down. Spring is here, and we all endured more than we every thought we could.
So long Shamrock 2017! This year we learned there is nothing we can’t handle.