As I mentioned in my most recent post, I was registered for a half marathon last Saturday. I had a really bad week leading up to it and I simply did not have the energy to participate.
I emailed the other members of my office half marathon team to let them know I would be cheering them on from the sidelines. A few minutes later I was visited by a colleague, Krista who was also registered for the race. She came by to tell me that she had received a life-altering diagnosis a few weeks ago. A week-long hospital stay combined with feeling beyond-lousy and adjusting to medications meant she was not trained for the half but she wanted to try to walk it anyway. This would be her first endurance event and her heart was set on it. I found myself telling her I would walk it with her. What had I done?!
This particular half marathon requires participants to make it to Mile 6 within a certain time frame or be removed from the course. Given how poorly my colleague and I were feeling, there was no guarantee we would make it, but at least we would try.
Saturday morning arrived and we met at 5:30 a.m. Krista was a nervous wreck; I was exhausted. We found our fellow teammates and posed for a photo. Soon it was time to line up. Another team member, Debe lined up with us toward the back of the field. Like us, she didn’t feel prepared and asked if she could walk with us so as not to spend 13.1 miles (assuming we made it to Mile 6 in time) alone.
We began the event with a walk/run rotation. Krista spent the first four miles stressing about whether or not we would make it to Mile 6. When it seemed obvious she wasn’t experiencing any adverse health effects, I sent her ahead of us. I really wanted her to achieve this milestone and didn’t want Debe and I to hold her back (we were less stressed about our own accomplishments). Debe and I would walk the remaining miles together.
Somehow, all three of us made it to the Mile 6 marker within the allotted time frame. I was still feeling fatigued so I met this milestone with mixed feelings. A seat on the sag wagon seemed sort of nice.
We kept putting one foot in front of the other, solving the world’s problems along the way. At Mile 10 or so I learned this was Debe’s first half marathon as well. When we arrived at Mile 13 she began to cry. She was so moved at what she would achieve in just .10 miles. Soon we crossed the finish line and volunteers hung medals around our necks. We immediately found Krista who had finished a few minutes earlier. I could not have been more proud of these women.
Walking most of this event meant my eighth half marathon was my slowest. It was also one of my most rewarding. I was honored to be given the opportunity to help two people achieve goals they didn’t think were possible. Of course, I knew they could do it; they just had to figure that out for themselves.
I’ve had so many people help me in my fitness efforts, it felt great to pay it forward. Suddenly, my fatigue vanished.