It's hard to believe a year has passed and we are once again, gearing up for Team Mitch and our participation in the Flying Pig Marathon. This has been a year of incredible growth for not only me, but for some of my friends and family members as well. I've been witness to so many acts of boldness and bravery that when I take a step back and look and the people I am surrounded by, it comes as no surprise that a new perspective on running, life and achieving things I never imagined possible has come out of this year.
In July, my brother Jack ran his first 100 mile ultramarathon. He will tell you himself that he was not trained to complete the distance, yet he did it. After reading his reflection on the "race", I began to realize that the way Jack attacks any challenge before him is the reason it was possible. He simply knows he can do it. There never seems to be any anxiety or nervousness tied to his attempted accomplishments (or at least if there is, it is very well hidden). I am looking forward to crewing him and pacing him for 20 or 30 miles of his 100 mile ultra this July and getting a taste of the lure of ultramarathoning. I mean, how could anyone NOT want to be up running for over 24 hours through dark woods, cold and hot temp extremes, tripping, hitting the wall and vomiting many times over? Sounds like a blast! I never claimed to be normal.
Sarah has embarked on a new adventure... opening up her own fitness studio. After 17 or 18 years at her previous job, she had the guts to leave her comfortable place in pursuit of her dream. How can I describe what it takes and what it must feel like to do that? I can't. Never done it. In the midst of her sleepless nights, fleeting moments of panic (or as I like to call them "holy shit, what have I DONE???" moments) and crazy busy schedule, I'd like to her to know that she will do awesome! She has the incredible ability to cater to beginners, or those just starting a fitness routine, as well as those who have been at it for years. Always pushing, challenging and encouraging to do our best (In fact, at times I find it quite annoying during TRX when she says "If you are just starting out, begin like this. But if you have been doing it awhile, challenge yourself like this...." Ok, Sarah, you may as well just say "Quit being a lazy ass Kate and step it up")
Last June or July, Jen came out for her first day of track repeats. Jen is no stranger to running. She has done a couple of marathons, including Alaska and Chicago. But many years and three kids later, she was ready to start running again. I remember seeing her go around the track at a slow jogging pace with some walk breaks thrown in. That was 10 months ago. Tomorrow, Jen will be running the Flying Pig Marathon with the goal of a Boston Qualifier. I don't know if I've ever seen anyone blossom and take off the way she has. I remember running with Jen for the first time last September. I was training for the full marathon and she had signed up to run the half with Kim and Tammy. Only having observed her on the track that day in June, imagine my surprise as she came running up beside me after we had tackled Marvin Road (bitch of a hill I tell ya). We chatted for awhile and I expected that soon she would drop back (I was not being cocky... I knew she had only just started a couple of months ago and after all, I was marathon training. Surely I was faster, right?). Jen never left my side. As we raced down New Biddenger, I remember thinking "OH MY.... this chic cannot be the same girl at the track!" Weeks later Jen ran the Columbus half marathon, her first race in years, in a 1:46.... faster than my own half marathon PR. Humbling runner moment. You just never know the ability of others. Tomorrow my job is to run with Jen for the first 5 miles of the marathon. At mile 5, I will do my best to "race" the remainder of the half marathon, while Jen continues to run at a BQ pace. This is a scary job for me as I have the tendency to race like an ass and go out too fast causing the final miles to be agony in any race of any distance. But tomorrow I will reign in it (and her anxious, jumpy, start out too fast self), finish my race and set out to find her and help run her in for her BQ. If I could tell Jen anything, it would be that she is ready to nail it. She had what it takes to go from walking the track to a 1:46 half marathon in a matter of 3 months. She has trained through a tough winter in the cold and snow. She has done this while juggling a busy life of 3 small children, a husband who travels often for work and a demanding job of her own. Relax, run easy and you will reach your goal.
These are just a few examples (before this gets too lengthy and I am rushing around to leave the house at 7:45) of the people who serve as examples of strength and perserverence. My friend Tammy is running the Flying Pig (her FIRST marathon) with an injury. Greg is running with a broken heart after losing his sister on Easter Sunday. My sister Barbara has moved multiple times in the last 2 years toting 4 small children and a dog. I'd have locked myself in a padded room by now if I had to deal with moving that many times. But Scott's job mandated the moves and so she pressed on. Seemingly maintaining her sanity while doing so. I also have neighbors with busy families and kids who have gone back to school to pursue advanced degrees. The list of people I know who constantly strive, push and achieve goes on and again, these are the people who surround me every day.
But my sister Maria takes the cake and that is the reason for the celebration this weekend. As the years without Mitch roll by and her babies grow into adorable, free spirited, fun loving kids, I have to say that when I think about Maria, I undoubtedly know that there is absolutely nothing I am incapable of if I so decide to go after it. Nothing at all... no matter what walls pop up before me (including that blasted wall at the 20 mile mark of a marathon).
May the pacing gods be with us all tomorrow as we run with in memory of lost loved ones and as we run with joy, gratitude and soggy feet (AGAIN!).