Inspirational Motivation

Thanksgiving Day Subaru Half Marathon

Team in Training is about running for a cause.  It is about running for someone other than yourself.  You feel more dedicated to running when it is about something greater than yourself.  You get swept up in the waves of inspiration that seem to be around every corner.  Amazing families doing amazing things under tragic circumstances.  During my time with the TEAM, I met mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, friends of someone who had battled cancer… not to mention actual cancer survivors. Unfortunately, cancer was everywhere.  I couldn’t avoid talking about my own father’s battle with cancer, nor could I avoid listening to all of the stories of others who had faced similar fates… some not as fortunate as my father.  It was extremely sad knowing that children were also suffering from this evil disease.

I remember seeing Alan at the information meeting I attended.  I learned about his battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  I don’t know why, but he immediately reminded me of my own father (I told him not to be offended because my dad is still young :)).  Alan shared his stories with me as we ran together.  He became a new running buddy and I always enjoyed our conversations.  I ran that first marathon in honor of Alan and my father.  They were my inspiration to get across the finish line.

But that wasn’t the end of the inspiration.  A few months after I had completed my marathon, Alan suffered a terrible loss.  His beautiful wife, Carmen, had passed away.  I was at a loss for words.  I knew that there wasn’t anything I could do or say that would make anything better.  Yet, there was always running.  I knew a bit about running and I knew how Alan felt about running.  It was his saving grace after he had cancer.

A couple of months later, Alan made the decision to run the Never Quit 5K… a fitting race title.  He was supposed to do it with Carmen and he still kept his promise to do just that.  All I could do was say that I would be there and run by his side if he wanted me to.  So, that is what Tracey and I did.  Now, every time I look at that beautiful sea turtle pendant I think of that moment when Alan crossed the finish line as he looked up into the sky.  That was truly an inspiration.

Alan never quit despite the many obstacles he had faced.  I would often see him at group runs and he even talked me into doing an overnight relay for another great cause.  Sometimes injuries prevented him from running, but Alan would always come back.  He is definitely a fighter and I admire him for that.  Sure, Alan wasn’t as fast as me back then, but I hear he will be passing me soon!  Somehow that tough guy has managed to surprise even his own doctors with that determination!  Alan was the running buddy that I could always talk to about anything.  I truly miss that.

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Never Quit

Words cannot express the feeling of sorrow I felt as I stood, braced for running, at the starting line.  The National Anthem only brought tears to my eyes and the pre-race speeches left me wondering why pain seems to always accompany joy.  Standing next to me was a friend.  A new friend, but a friend nonetheless.  A friend who had battled and survived cancer just a few years ago.  A friend who just lost his wife only weeks ago.  That kind of pain is unimaginable.  I understand what it is like to lose a loved one, but I do not understand what it is like to lose a spouse, a soulmate who knows you like no one else.

She knew that he loved to run.  I imagine that it didn’t take long to convince her to join him at the race.  That is the kind of thing we do for the ones we love.  Yet, as we stood at the starting line, she was the one missing in body…. however, she was present in spirit.  I know it took my friend a lot of strength and courage to show up to the race that day.  I deeply respect him for that because I don’t think I would have been able to do it with so much peace and love still in my heart.

We anxiously awaited the firing of the gun along with 6,000 other participants.  It was a great day to be on the beach if you were a runner… not so sure if it was a great day to be lounging in the middle of a race course. When we were given the signal to start, my friend took off with so much determination that I feared I would not be able to keep up.  We ran in silence most of the way, but every once in awhile commented on the distraught beachgoers or complained about the sweat pouring down our backs like a waterfall.  When my friend slowed down I would take the lead to maintain the motivation to keep pushing forward.  However, all of the motivation he needed was found within and above.  When I asked him how he was doing, he would simply state that he was doing good and it was more than convincing.

The finish line was fast approaching and I did not need to reflect too long on what was going through my friend’s mind.  The answer was written all over him.  He glanced up and raised his arm to the sky.  The crossing of the finish line was an emotional passage that I was honored to be a part of.  Even though she was not physically present, I knew that she was there cheering for her husband.  I have no doubt that my friend will never quit for her.  Regardless of how painful the road will be at times, he will continue moving forward.  There is still too much joy remaining.

I thought about all of the things that I often take for granted and I am thankful to my friend for opening my eyes to the world around me.  I will never quit living life no matter what challenges I may face in the future.  We all have the strength within ourselves to pick up the pieces and carry on… it is just a matter of whether or not you will try.