There are some very important “firsts” that most of us will never forget; our first kiss, our first car, our first job, etc. But this is about a girl and her very first half marathon. I completed my first half marathon in 1997. I walked the Indianapolis Life 500 Festival Mini Marathon, which is a half marathon. That was so long ago and half marathons weren’t all the rave like they are now so I don’t remember too much about it. I digress…this isn’t about me.
I have known MYMW since high school; we also went to the same college. But then as life often does, we all move on in different directions. There is work, family, hobbies. There are joys, celebrations, sadness and tears along the way. Life can change us in many ways. And then some times we learn that we can change our life.
This is a picture of MYMW from 3 years ago. She is on the left. She is beautiful soul with a heart of gold who always gives of herself to others.
But she decided it was time to also take care of herself and in April of 2013, she had bariatric surgery. She began a walking program and then began running. She did 5Ks, and 10Ks and 15Ks and felt ready to tackle her first half marathon. I shared my thoughts on half marathons that I had done and she did her research as well. I tried to suggest half marathons that would be scenic and that would give her the best “FIRST” she could have. It was settled, she would do the Christie Clinic Illinois Half Marathon on April 26, 2014. A very good choice in my opinion. I had done it in 2010 and so I signed up to do it again as well.
Completing your first half marathon is no small accomplishment. She had been training relentlessly and so many people had been cheering for her through every training run along the way.
I’m a big fan of trying to make people feel special and to help create a lasting memory for them. I’m also a BIG FAN of people that have signs for their friends/loved ones along a half marathon or flowers for them as they cross the finish line. Thus my plan was set in motion. I would make a CONGRATS sign for her and be right there as she finished. Plus I contacted many of her friends via a Facebook message and suggested that they send Congratulations cards to me and I would present those to her after the race.
I thought about and worked on her poster for two weeks. I wanted to incorporate things that meant something special to her (the Wonder Woman logo, an owl for Chi Omega, the logo of the race she was doing) and I also put some inspirational quotes on there.
It was so enjoyable going to the mailbox each day knowing that there potentially was something FUN in there. I gathered all the cards and put them in a gift bag. After arriving at the hotel Friday night – while she was in the shower – I asked her husband if he would help me with some stuff in my car. We then transferred the poster to their car and he would bring it to the race.
We boarded the bus Saturday morning and we were headed to the starting area. We took the obligatory pre-race photos and then waited in her corral until it was time to start. We chatted about this, that and the other. We talked to other runners and met a girl who was doing her first half marathon. I think all of this helped keep her nerves calm and her mind occupied. But then it was time to go, my wave was about to start so we hugged and wished each other well.
After finishing the half myself, I found her husband, got the poster and waited at the finish line. I was very thankful that they weren't shooing people away – some races do that.
And then I see her…coming into the stadium. I’ve got the poster in one hand, my iPhone in the other snapping away with the camera feature, all the while yelling my fool head off for her. It was all so FREAKING exciting!!!
We got her medal, got some water and kept her moving for a bit before going over and having the OFFICIAL finishers photos taken. Just look at that smile on her face.
Next stop was to take her to where her husband was (non-participants weren't allowed on the football field) and I think you can see how proud he is of her as well.
After a quick bite to eat and some foam rolling, we were headed back to the hotel.
It was then time to present her with the cards that had been sent. Needless to say she was very surprised. I’m so thankful to those that participated.
On race day, she was down 177 pounds from her heaviest weight. Although she has “lost” a lot of weight along the way, I think what she has gained during this journey cannot be measured on a scale.
Keep running my friend. You are an inspiration to so many.