As I sit in front of my computer, journals open, words of the past two weeks scrawled on post it notes and lined paper, and a pile of Jujyfruits on the table to my left, I feel rewarded. I feel another wave of pride for my recent accomplishments.
As most of you know, I trained very hard for the Baltimore Running Festival's Half Marathon that was held last Saturday. About three weeks before the race, I started getting pains in my right lower leg. I ran through the pain, and even smiled at times as I was half running, half hobbling up a hill during training, wanting so badly to quit, and then hearing Dan's favorite saying to me, "Don't be a big baby." I swear I could be sick as a dog and not able to get off the floor, and he would say, "Are you being a big baby?" He always did it with that smirk and half smile, and even at my sickest, I had to laugh and roll my eyes...before telling him to get some freakin' Pepto or Tylenol ASAP!!
Days before the race, I decided to make an appointment to get my leg X-rayed. The results were inconclusive, so I then went for an MRI. Waiting for the MRI results (on the Friday before the race) was like holding my breath under water for hours. I kept thinking, "Come on God, are you really going to strip this away from me too?" "The pounding of the pavement I've grown to know as my therapy and healing?" "You really haven't taken enough??" "Really?" I felt myself getting bitter and had to talk myself out (again) of feeling like I was being punished.
I received the news Friday evening that I did not have a stress fracture! I amazed myself at how excited I actually was at running 13.1 miles the next day at the crack of dawn, but for some odd reason, I was ecstatic.
The morning of the race was a whirlwind of excitement. I tagged along with Team Legrand and enjoyed the entire atmosphere and tangible elation of the throngs of people in Baltimore that day. For the second year in a row, Allyson, Brian, and Bo came to see me off at my starting point, that in itself made me teary, because of the wonderful friend that Allyson is. Then Michelle and I hugged as our corral was being called to start. We wished each other luck, and we were off. My first three miles are always my hardest, as my legs are getting warmed up. After that, I got my groove, steadied my pace, controlled my breathing, and took in my surroundings.
I spotted the sign for MILE 8, and thought..."Are you kidding me?? I am only at mile 8???" "AND ANOTHER HILL TO BOOT??" (Insert as many cuss words as you can think of. I think I even made up some of my own.) Jogging up that hill, there were not as many spectators as at the other mile markers. I saw one girl standing on the side with a sign. When I ran by, I felt the chills. I am sure that through my music, I heard the sound of beating wings next to me. The sign said simply, "Don't Stop Believing." If you knew Dan, you knew that Journey = The Greatest Band That EVER Was. You couldn't get into that pearly white Infinity after a night at Woody's without partially losing your hearing over the blaring 80's sensation. That sign was all the motivation I needed for the remaining 5.1 miles. I finished in 2 hours and 5 minutes, shaving 6 minutes off my Nashville time.
Even though I found out today that I have repetitive stress injuries in BOTH of my legs, and should take a couple of weeks off, I am so happy I ran the race. (And to be perfectly honest chances are I will only take a week off of running...tops.)
The signs continued to be posted on my road throughout the weekend. "Sunday Morning" at Ropewalk on Saturday night - Thank you Jaime and Eileen for the dance. Journey popped up again on Sunday, as I shared another dance, smiles, and laughs-Thank you David. The signs are motivators, ushering me to continue to move forward. Never to take a day for granted. Love the ones around you, and let yourself be loved. Smile and laugh until your sides hurt. And DON'T (ever, ever ever) STOP BELIEVING.