That was me on Sunday right after I crossed the finish line at the San Diego Rock n' Roll Half Marathon. I don't feel like I can put into words the affect this experience had on me. Besides being incredibly proud of raising $3,100 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and being incredibly proud of finishing a half marathon, I feel like I left this past weekend a changed person. I have never been a part of something that was so inspiring and so full of energy. Every time I ran past someone (I know, I was surprised that I ran past anyone! ha ha) that had pictures all over the back of their shirts of their honored patients, or mothers or fathers or sisters or brothers that they were running in memory of or in support of, I felt inspired. When I thought of the OVER $155 million dollars that has been raised over the past 13 years from this race to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, I felt humbled to be a part of it. But mostly, I felt proud to be a part of something so important. Proud that I didn't quit. Proud that I ran the whole first SEVEN miles, walk/ran the next five and then somehow RAN that last mile. Proud that I was very conscious to take everything in from start to finish that day.
I thought a lot about my cousin Lisa during the race. She was the inspiration for me to sign up for this journey in the first place. I thought about her husband and her kids and her sister and her father and her nieces and nephew. I thought about how unfair it is that she isn't here anymore. I wanted to cry every time I saw someone running with a picture of a child on their shirt that said in memory of. I couldn't help thinking what if that was me? What if that was my husband? Or even worse for me... what if that was my child? And then I ran harder. I looked around at all of the amazing scenery around me. I soaked in the beauty of San Diego. I thought about how all of these people around me were running or walking this race because their lives had been touched by cancer in some way. It seemed so unfair that there were SO many people to run in support of or in memory of. And then I stopped feeling so sad and just felt blessed that all of these thirty nine THOUSAND people in this race felt moved enough to contribute to this fight against cancer. I cried during that last mile as I started to realize all that I had just accomplished. All that everyone there had accomplished. I missed my husband and I missed my son. I wished so badly that they could have been there in that moment... not so that they could be proud of me, but so that I could hug them and tell them I love them and tell them how blessed I feel to have them in my life... because never have I been so aware of that feeling. Never have I realized how careful I need to be not to take my family, my friends and the comforts of my life for granted.
When I crossed the finish line, all I could hear was my friend Lauren yelling my name! She had flown across the country from Massachusetts to meet me in San Diego. She got up at 6:30 a.m., took trolleys, shuttle buses and probably walked about four miles that day so that she could be at two places along the race course and at the finish line! She totally ignored the barrier and jumped right into the finishers lane so that she could take my picture and give me a hug and whip a bottle of water out of her bag and tell me how great I looked for just finishing 13.1 miles! Lauren is one of my very best and oldest friends. We don't see each other often enough and our friendship needed this weekend. I love her for many reasons, but on Sunday morning, I loved her for decorating the mirror in our bathroom like this...
It was 3:30 a.m. and I was already starting to cry reading all of the little inspirational sayings she had written on the little stars! I picked one out of the bunch to stick to the back of my race number. I looked down at it several times during the race to remind myself of the person I am trying to become and all of the changes I've been working on in my life this year. There were several times where just looking at that little star made all the difference in my race.
She also gave me a card and a little silver wish token with a star cut out. I made a wish much bigger than myself and then tied it to my sneaker and gave that day my all.
Now I'm back home, realizing that my body hates me every time I try and stand up and walk, and just trying to figure out how to keep this experience with me. How to remember how I felt on Sunday and how to build on the emotions that I'm still experiencing from the weekend. I know that I want to run another half marathon. That is FOR SURE something I never thought I'd say! I want to be able to run the whole 13.1 miles next time. I know that I want to donate more of my time to causes that keep me humbled and remind me of my place in this world. But most of all, I don't want to take anything in my life for granted... ever.