Limiting Language: Or How I Learned to Fly…

“I am ONLY running a half marathon this week.”

“I am JUST a beginner.”

“It’s JUST a LITTLE sprint triathlon.”

“I would love to join, BUT I probably couldn’t keep up with you guys.”

“I don’t have one of those fancy bikes.”

“Thanks, but I have so much more to lose.”

“Have I reminded you lately that I’m not fast?”

 

I have heard it a million times from my husband, gently correcting me and telling me how proud he is of me; that I am “doing fantastic.” I hear it from my guy friends that I always worry only run with me to humor me; “you’re doing great.” But something about being called out by a coach you really respect hit me like a lightning bolt. He did it so perfectly, so respectfully, but in a way that told me that he was serious and not just humoring my lack of self-confidence.

“Let’s remove that limiting language. You’re going with the flow, so just enjoy the journey and see where it takes you.”

“Limiting language.” Wow, I hadn’t heard it that way before. It’s always been “don’t be so hard on yourself.” Which, let’s be real, is code for “stop it, you’re fine, insert gratuitous comment and eye roll here.”

I’m a slow learner and it’s take a few weeks for this to sink in, but I see it everywhere now. I have observed it in almost every interaction I have had. I am constantly limiting myself by subconsciously telling myself that I’m not enough. I see it in all of my friends, too. We are always putting ourselves down in that stealthy way and we shouldn’t be. We like to think that we are telling ourselves that we are enough, but then that little demon that sits on the left shoulder whispers in our ear the complete opposite. It whispers those stupid words: ONLY, JUST, BUT.

When we limit our language, we limit what we are capable of.

Enough! I am making the commitment to stop my limiting language NOW. I am proud of what I can accomplish. I am not in competition with anyone, not even myself. I am not who I was yesterday, three months ago, or three years ago. I am choosing to live in the present and find the joy and satisfaction in doing exactly what my body, and my mind, allows today. It doesn’t mean I don’t have goals. On the contrary! But by releasing myself from the chains of “not enough,” I will build a far better foundation with which to reach those goals because I will have the confidence that I CAN.

*****

So my challenge to all of my girlfriends – remove your limiting language and let your truths shine on their own merit. Own it all and be joyous in what your body can accomplish today, because seriously, we are all doing truly epic stuff.

“I am running 13.1 miles this week!”

“I am so excited to learn something new!”

“I am training to swim, bike and run – all in the same race!”

“Thanks for the run, guys!”

“I am squeezing every ounce of awesomeness out of this bike!”

“Thanks for the compliment, I’m working hard!”

“Hey Coach, watch me fly…”

 

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Medal Monday: Crescent City Classic 10K

Heading to Louisiana seems to now be a habit, as this was trip three in three months. A year ago, I bid on an auction at the RRCA National Convention that included two entries to the Crescent City Classic and a hotel room. My sister has never been to New Orleans before and was starting to do 5k races doing run-walk intervals, so she was excited to join in on the fun. I didn’t really know anything about the race other than it was huge and billed as one really long party. It sounded like you could walk it completely and still not be “last.” Spoiler alert: this race is phenomenal!!!

Expo

imageSo, this race actually has an expo! In a time when even a lot of half marathons don’t have expos, this little 10k put on a two day expo. And unlike some of the other race expos I have been to, no one tried to sell me replacement windows or a body massager that looked eerily like an orbital car waxer. It’s held at the Hyatt on Canal St and took up the entire Elite Hall. The only weird thing was that it didn’t flow really well. I had to walk halfway through the expo to go pick up my bib, then walk through the other half to do get my shirt and bag. It’s hard to stay focused on those two items before you start shopping and sampling.

imageI liked that there were booths for all of the charity partners for the race and you could register to run with one of them and get into the charity corral. There were a bunch of booths with fun apparel and a ton of regional race groups. To me, that really makes an expo special because as a visitor, you get the opportunity to see what the local running community looks like. And ummm, yeah, there was free food. In true Louisiana fashion, I could get a bowl of red beans and rice and a beer (or in my case, an iced tea) and just chill while the local physical therapist gave a talk on injury prevention.

Race Day

imageLet me first say, this race really is huge; more than 20,000 crazies committing to 6.2 miles early on the Saturday before Easter. It’s a money race (significant money), so it attracts a lot of elites from Kenya and Ethiopia. To keep the focus local, they have two sets of prizes – money for the overalls and separate prize money for the the local overall winners. That makes this race VERY fast. I think the winners covered the distances in 28 or so minutes. But not to fear if you aren’t a speedy. The race is also VERY slow. They have a separate corral just for walkers and a costume contest that I think gives away just as much prize money as the overall runners win.

The walk to the start line itself was festive. I felt like this is what Mardi Gras is like a little. So much excitement and so many smiles. Also, for there being nine corrals, the start went very fast. Sean started in a few corrals ahead of us, but we really only had to wait a few minutes. What was hysterical was that there was a water station inside of the start line, and people were actually taking the water! But I guess that gets you ready to go because less than a quarter mile into the race, there was a Jell-O shot stop. Oh dear! Note: I didn’t take one. Only bad things could happen if I pulled a stunt like that.

imageThere was a timing mat at every mile marker as well as water stops (really, they had water!). But every quarter mile there was something going on, like spectators hanging off their balconies throwing beads, a mimosa stop, firemen handing out beers, guys dressed up in marching band uniforms handing out hot dogs, men in tuxedos handing out red and white flowers to the ladies, and more Jell-O shots. The course was a great route that went down Canal to the river, onto Decatur, along Esplanade and finally into City Park. You spend at least a mile in the park over by a kids’ amusement park.

The participants also take their costumes very seriously. For real, there was a group of guys dressed up as Vikings pulling a huge “boat” filled with kegs with full intention of partying the whole six miles. And yes, they did move that boat the whole six miles, as did all the groups pulling wagons filled with beer. Other costumes I ran into included a crawfish, a sparkly unicorn princess, a herd of cows and what appeared to be the entire cast of the new Star Wars movie. But my favorite had to be the families pushing strollers of kids. They got all kinds of creative and turned the strollers into giant Pac Mans. The runners dressed as the ghosts from the game. But what made the costumes completely work was the sound effects. Yep, you could hear the chomping as they ran!

image

I probably should have been the one to take the photo with Humpty

So, in true New Orleans fashion, the streets are not great. About mile 5.7, I caught a piece of the uneven pavement with my shoe and did only what my sister described as a “graceful swan dive.” I have fallen once before (see the Drake Half Marathon), but that was after the race and I was texting. I’m not a klutz. But that was embarrassing!! Within seconds I had a ton of people around me trying to help and really I just wanted to go crawl in a hole. But I jumped up and laughed it off, declaring that the iPhone was ok! Maybe a touch of road rash along my leg. And my arm. Yep, my shoulder too. But you’re not a runner until you’ve left a little of you on the course, right?

Post-Race Festival

We were given our medals and Erica and I met the boys to walk to the post-race festival as the rain began to pour down. It felt so awesome! I felt like a kid again. And there was so much food: fruit, cookies, jambalaya, beer, Gatorade, food trucks. The music was great too!

image

Mary and I met up at the festival unexpectedly

I lost my sister and Geoff, but ran into Mary, a Skirt Sports Ambassador from Baton Rouge that I only knew from social media, so we had to get a photo together. (Shameless plug: if you are interested in trying out a running skirt, use this discount code to get 20% off – 20MWT20).

The race provides shuttle buses back to the start line, but if you don’t time it right, you could be in the line a while. I didn’t want to wait, so we Ubered it back to the hotel.

I had such a great time at this race and wish more races were as fun as this one. We are already planning on coming back next year. Come join us!!

An Unexpected Twist of Events…

My sister is a runner.

I’m going to let that sink in there for a moment.

My. Sister. Is. A runner.

My sister has never been athletic. In school she would struggle to run even one lap in PE class. She never played any sports. We figured out why a few years ago. In her early thirties, she had to have open-heart surgery to correct some pretty nasty heart defects she was born with that went undiagnosed FOR-EV-ER. And while her cardiologist has encouraged her to exercise now, it’s never something she had any experience with. After she was cleared by her doctor a couple of years ago, I pushed her into joining me in my running. Christmas and birthday gifts were cute running skirts and her membership and training paid for.

I was such a newbie runner. I thought I could change the world if I just got everyone I knew to run.

I learned (not so quickly) that I couldn’t run those races for anyone but me. I couldn’t want health for someone more than they wanted it themselves.

So, I gave up. I decided that I wouldn’t ask anyone again to come join me in a run. I decided to just run.

goofy erinOK, I am an unapologetic, obnoxious post-workout selfie machine. I don’t compose them or do some strange pose, but I have been guilty of a 5 am post to scream “GOOD MORNING?” to my friends. Mostly I do it because my life is pretty boring otherwise and because I can’t stand all the negative stuff on social media. So I fill it with my goofy photos, my exhausted photos, my “ I seriously need to find better hair products because there is no way hair is supposed to look that crazy” photos. People are welcome to like, comment, unfollow or unfriend me as they see fit.

But something magical happened. My sister, who doesn’t exercise, quietly signed up to walk a 5K with a friend from work. And then she did it again. And again. And apparently she began to have fun.

And then one night at our family dinner, I mentioned that I had won an auction for a weekend in New Orleans with entries to the Crescent City Classic 10K and somehow, I don’t know, it just happened… I asked if she wanted to go do it too. “But I only walk,” she said. “That’s ok, I hear it’s just a six mile parade of drunks unless you’re an elite, anyway,” I said.

So, we’re heading to NOLA for beignets and a 10K!

erin and erica 3But fast forward to a random club race in January, my daughter was going to do the 5K. Erica said she would stay close to her and I cautioned Emma Grace on running too fast and not letting Auntie Erica keep her in sight. By some miracle, Erica managed to generally keep up with Emma Grace. But this crazy seven year old showed my sister that it was possible to run just a little bit and walk when tired and cross the finish line faster than she had before.

erin and erica 1

Six weeks later, my sister is officially a bad ass. She has more determination than ever that she will run-walk her way to the finish line of the 10K. A little birdie may have suggested that she was eyeing a (gasp!) half marathon.

.

While I was running, I thought no one was watching.

But apparently they were, because my sister is a runner.

inspire

 

Medal Monday: Drake Hy-Vee Half Marathon Race Recap

Race ready!This weekend I found myself running a third half marathon in a fifteen day stretch. My biggest concern was being able to end the third race injury free. It’s no secret that I don’t do anything in moderation and have found myself sidelined on a few occasions because of it. The body part I hear the loudest is usually my calves.

The race this weekend was the Drake Relays Hy-Vee Half Marathon in Des Moines, Iowa. It is held in conjunction with the Drake Relays (the 106th this year!) on the famous blue oval track. This was never any sort of bucket list race and I had frankly never heard of it before a few months ago. However, I was in town for the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) National Convention and this was the race the convention paired up with. Side note: More to come on my adventures at the convention – I learned so much!!

So, I believe there was a small expo before the race, but as a conference attendee, there was a volunteer that brought our packets directly to us. This was a sweet perk in light of the icky, cold rain Des Moines decided to bring on Saturday. The race bag included my bib, a drawstring bag to be used for bag check, a long sleeve tech shirt and a few small goodies. Nothing big, but I’ve certainly received less for a race. The only bummer about the shirt is that it was unisex sizing. I’m usually a small in that case, but it was still too big and they ran out of extra smalls. Ha ha ha! That’s awesome that my name and extra small were in the same sentence. Seriously, a big boost to the ego!

imageThe morning of the race, my travel and running buddy for the weekend ditched me for the 10K. It was apparently a great night after the dinner Saturday night! I decided to wear my regular long-run shoes for the race rather than my new Cloudracers. They are a lot lighter, but I second guessed how I would feel at race time and erred on the side of “I could be out here a while.” Let me just begin by saying I am a complete baby in the cold weather. And by cold weather I mean anything under 50 degrees. Really. Run tights in the 40s. However, I didn’t remember to bring them to Des Moines because it was nearly 85 in Dallas. (I am seriously proud of the packing job…) So, I sucked it up and put on my adorable new purple polka-dot running skirt and two layers of tops. It was a little chilly, but I figured I would warm up – I totally felt like a real runner with so little clothing on!!
imageAs the race was beginning, I ran into a couple of girls that also attended the convention and I had run with them on the social run two days earlier. We began chatting and I made the decision to stay with them rather than push ahead for a PR I’ve been chasing for two years. Almost immediately I noticed that there was no back of the pack. Really. We went out with the 2:45 pacer and there were only a few of us. This didn’t look good. Maybe I should have downgraded back to the 10K???
The course was really pretty. We ran by the river and over a couple of That's a really big shovel!bridges, though a park, around some amazing buildings and through a large sculpture garden. I just had to stop and take pictures a few times. Although the water stops were small, they were well-run and well-stocked. There were even a few musicians along the course playing for us. Add in a couple of hills and you had yourself a race. The most notorious hill was about mile 11ish – Bulldog Hill.  Everyone kept warning us of this hill. When I finally got there, yep, I didn’t really need a sign to let me know I was there. This thing was STEEP! Like, steep Welcome to Bulldog Hill is right...enough to probably be a good idea to set your parking brake on your car; maybe half to three quarters of a mile in length, just enough to be a real pain. I stopped for a second to take a photo of the signs and began to hear the Drake drum line. I will tell you that I LOVE drum lines. I don’t know why, but it’s just awesome to hear and feel that beat. I closed my eyes and smiled. I remembered everything I had been taught about powering up a hill and I went for it, matching my cadence with the drum line. IT WAS GLORIOUS. I totally had to stop What hill? Hahaha!and catch my breath when I got to the top and a nice spectator was more than happy to take my photo after I gave a high five to one of the drummers. My pace was actually faster up that hill
than it had been the entire race. The final mile was a hot mess. The small group of us still running had to ask several times where the next turn was and if we were still on the course. There were just a ton of people milling about and not enough course monitors. We finally made it to the entrance of the famous blue oval track and it was so cool! The stands were filled in anticipation of the elites that would finish the 5K about 10 minutes later (and had just started the race as we were trying to find the entrance to the track). It was definitely a highlight to be able to run on the very track in which world records were broken on two days earlier. Many of the greatest track runners have run this track. If we are really lucky, my son will have an opportunity to run there in the next several years while in college. It was imagereally an amazing location for a finish. I made it through for my medal and a bottle of water and then kept going along the track to the other side where the post-race tents were set up outside of the stadium.

It’s important to remember that I said the stadium was full at this point. I must not have been fully paying attention to where my feet were going because I ended up tripping on a large metal bar that I think was part of the high jump apparatus that was dismantled. “Ass over teakettle” tripped – I flew. I was MORTIFIED. The sound of the metal rattling on the ground was loud enough that a few people stopped to help. All I could do was laugh it off and pretend it didn’t hurt, but it really hurt. I’m still crying. I landed on my hip and the inhaler that was in my skirt pocket punctured the skin in my leg. I was bleeding and hurting and so darn embarrassed. My only hope is that no one caught a I'm actually on the track!!!photo of that perfect-ten. Determined to high tail it out of the stadium as quickly as possible, I ran to grab a cookie from the food tent and then made sure my speedy friends that were waiting for me weren’t in the stadium when I fell.
Overall, this was a great race! I made some wonderful new friends, shared my love of all things Skirt Sports, took lots of photos and almost ended the race injury free. For speedier runners, I would definitely recommend this race. For those of us in the back of the pack (2:30+ finishers), I would say bring some friends.

Medal Monday: Divas Half Marathon, Galveston

When we last spoke, I had finished the first of three half marathons in fifteen days. I still think I’m kind of silly for doing this many races in three weekends, but it’s been a fun ride so far. For the record, I am already a Half Fanatic, so I can’t say this is any sort of challenge or bucket list item. I’m just truly certifiable sometimes. I am really susceptible to the whims of my running buddies (seriously, I signed up to run a full marathon two years ago because Kathy said “it will be fun and have you seen the size of that medal???”).  But I digress; so without further ramblings, my race recap of the Divas Half Marathon. And maybe a few other ramblings. LOL

Along the seawall on Saturday.

Along the seawall on Saturday.

When Marcy and I signed up for the half marathon in Galveston, Texas in April, it was likely somewhere in the twenty degree range in Dallas and we were on day three of icepocalypse. I blame the cabin fever, but we just didn’t even consider the likely heat and humidity of running on the Gulf of Mexico. Or maybe I can blame the blinding light of the tiara I was promised or the hotties that would be at the finish line waiting??? But no matter what, Marcy and I have run a couple hundred miles this spring with our eyes on a PR in Galveston… and a girl’s weekend.

imageThere are a bunch of hotels on the island, but they tend to be pretty pricey. Add a race full of women and the hotels booked up fast. Marcy and I were able to get a nice hotel on the beach for about $225, which is about average. It was about six miles from the race start and finish line, but parking is quite plentiful in the Strand, so it didn’t seem like a big deal to be that far away. And parking ranged from $5-7 per day.

Officially a cheap date - one margarita and I'm riding the carousel horse in front of the restaurant...

Officially a cheap date – one margarita and I’m riding the carousel horse in front of the restaurant…

We got to the Expo early Saturday afternoon. The expo was a lot smaller than I envisioned, but it was packed. Getting our bibs and shirts was very efficient. Marcy and I then worked our way through the vendor tables and picked up a couple of new shoe charms and other goodies. I mentally made a note that the space was about the size of the expo we put on for the DRC Half in November, but it felt so much more crowded and

claustrophobic. It was good to see that the layout makes all the difference because I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Marcy and I spent the afternoon after the expo just wandering through the Strand, walking along the seawall and the beach, and enjoying a banana margarita. A BANANA MARGARITA! This is ingenious… a girl needs potassium and salt to ward off calf cramps during the race, right??? This seems like a win-win. 😉 We spent the evening at a big group dinner at the Fisherman’s Wharf with the other Divas from Dallas Running Club. It was a complete blast being able to hang out with such great friends. But the time came for us to hit the hay if we were going to do this race in the morning.

Pre-race dinner with DRCDivas!

Pre-race dinner with DRCDivas!

Ready to run!

Ready to run!

Race morning was glorious. We were all decked out in our skirts and pink flowers and met in the Wave 2 corral. I felt bad for the announcer because he had a really tough job to do. Convincing thousands of women to get in their corrals because the race was starting in “three minutes” was a lot like herding cats. A quick pre-race picture was an order and then in was time to run. Marcy and I took off at the pace we were targeting for a PR, but three and a half miles in, we knew it was not

Look who we saw along the seawall? One of our adoring fans!

Look who we saw along the seawall? One of our adoring fans!

going to happen. We could see the seawall ahead and there was not a cloud in the sky. The temperature was already climbing rapidly and sweat was dripping from us already. I looked down at my Garmin and my heart rate was 180! This was not good. We made the decision to walk briskly until the rest of the group caught up to us and then we would finish with them. My only goal for the morning was to cross that finish line with a smile on my face, ready to run another day. The decision was declared a smart one when we passed by three different girls that were on the ground in pain or dealing with heat exhaustion, waiting for medics. I just didn’t want that to be how my race ended and the heat was definitely a factor. As we walked, we

Priscilla's first "Mile 10"!

Priscilla’s first “Mile 10”!

discussed taking this show on the road internationally (Paris, baby!) and everything else under the sun. Sunny, Suzanne, Denise and the others caught up to us as we left East Beach and we began running again. One of Suzanne’s friends from college, Priscilla, was with the group and running her very first half. She hadn’t run double digits before, so we had to take pictures at the mile markers and generally enjoy the morning.

For the most part, the water stops were plentiful and well stocked. The volunteers encouraged people to take two waters, one to drink and one to cool down with by dumping it on our heads and backs, which really helped with the humidity. We finally made it to mile 13, where we went through the tiara and boa

Ready for the finish line

Ready for the finish line

station and could see the finish line ahead. Champagne and hotties with medals awaited us at the finish line (seriously, I’m really not one to go for a race with firemen waiting for us, but dang they were cute!). The weird part was the food tent was a block away, so it seemed kind of disjointed.

imageThis is a race that is clearly focused on women and caters to a lot of first-time half marathoners. The course time limit is generous at 4 hours and allows you to completely walk the entire race should you choose to do so. There were definitely some fast women (but when they passed us by, my smile was far bigger than theirs) and there were about a dozen men that had great senses of humor and wore tutus to run with the divas. The only downside to the race was the drive back to Dallas when it was over – I so didn’t want this weekend to end! Overall, I enjoyed the race. I don’t typically like the big national events from for-profit entities because I’m more a fan of the underdog, the little races put on by local non-profits – they are important. But this race was really fun and I would definitely do it again. Especially with my divas!

Thirteen hot, sweaty miles done!

Thirteen hot, sweaty miles done!

As this was also the weekend of the Boston Marathon (I know a lot of fast friends, lol), this was also a “virtual” run through Skirt Sports to honor women’s running. They have a campaign called 261fearless because Kathrine Switzer was the first female to register and run Boston and her race number was 261. Because she had used her initials when registering, it wasn’t discovered that she was female until mid-race and the pictures of her being bullied off the course by a race director are iconic still today. I began reading her book, Marathon Woman, last week and will give more thoughts on the issue soon, but let’s just say I am blown away by her courage and the courage of all the women runners back in the 60s and early 70s that dared to buck convention and pave the way for all of us to push our own limits physically and mentally. Every race we do honors what she stood for that day in Boston.image

Next stop: Des Moines for the National RRCA Convention and the Hy-Vee Drake Half Marathon!

Medal Monday: Big D Half Marathon

Big D Half Marathon - DONE!I think I might have lost my mind. I’m not sure what happened that I find myself looking at April with a little apprehension. I signed up with Marcy to run the Diva Half Marathon in Galveston on April 19th. This would be our goal race. But I am also going to Des Moines, Iowa for the National RRCA Convention the weekend of the 25th and there is a race. Knowing that it would be a week after my goal race, I smartly signed up for the 10K. Safe, right? But then my fellow board members of DRC talked me into upgrading to the half (It will be slow! We will have fun! – famous last words before I always seem to pull that trigger… hahaha). So imagine my surprise when I get asked to then also pace the Big D Half Marathon…the week before Galveston. I didn’t want to run. In fact, I had the perfect spot picked out to go cheer everyone on at! But here I am, running Big D.

Pretty cool that even my boy got to pace this morning!

Pretty cool that even my boy got to pace this morning!

The Big D Half and Full Marathon has been run for a number of years and this year they changed up the course, promising a flat course for your fastest half marathon finish. In Dallas, that’s usually code for “this is gonna suck, we’ve found every elevation change we could and shoved it all into this awesome course.” True to form, there was no elevation map included with the course map online. However, a quick perusal of the streets, I knew it wasn’t flat. I’ve run West Shore before. Seriously. After my calves nearly blew up on the Rock n Roll Dallas course, I started to dread the race. I know what my legs are capable of and no amount of training or running slower or faster or ingesting various forms of electrolytes or water is going to change that my legs and I have a love-hate relationship. My kidney’s decision to sometimes not function on all cylinders typically causes most of my angst. It’s certainly a delicate balancing act of water, salt and other electrolytes to keep from cramping up because of the toxin build-up inside my pesky kidney.

Best Pace Sister EVAHH!!Determined to make this a great race, Marcy and I grabbed our blue running skirts (Skirt Sports, of course!) and our orange flowers. The orange flower from FellowFlowers.com represents runners “fiercely united.” It’s one of my favorite flowers to wear when I am with my running friends. Marcy and I set out doing 2:1 intervals. We were pacing the 2:50 finish group and this interval made the most sense. Within a quarter of a mile, we had been asked by people running near us about the intervals and asked if they could join us. The answer is always “of course!” Pacing a race is hard because you HAVE to have a great race. You can’t be the one to fall apart because runners who paid to run are counting on you to help them reach their goals. But, pacing a race is also one of the most rewarding things I do. That pace stick breaks down barriers, pulls headphones out of ears, and lets you meet the most amazing athletes. Every walk of life can be found out on a course, all running for various reasons, all with great stories of obstacles overcome.

The nitty gritty of the race: this was hilly! OK, not San Francisco-hilly, but for imageDallas, there were some inclines! Training with Dallas Running Club, we run those hills every weekend. If I was running by myself, I would likely skip those streets and only run on flat land. But that wouldn’t make me a better, faster or stronger runner, so I could do the hills, but I certainly felt inclined to complain a little under my breath as we approached each one. The day was exceptionally humid. In the end, this was the deciding factor for a whole lot of runners Sunday morning. The higher than expected temperature with 85% humidity was like running through pea soup. The water stops were spaced really weird. We would go almost three miles with no water then hit two stops in less than one mile. Stuff like that is why I ALWAYS carry my own water. That and the pesky kidney. Every water stop, I grabbed water, took a sip or two and then dumped the rest of it on my neck to try to keep cool. I really struggled with cooling myself off during the race and looking back at my Garmin, my heart rate was really high too… curiouser and curiouser.

imageAs Marcy and I approached mile 7, we got a text from my hubby who was pacing a much faster group. The humidity caught up with him and he had gotten sick on the course. He was unable to keep going at his pace (that’s why we have two pacers for each time – anything can happen on race morning). Marcy and I told him to just walk and we would catch up with him. He could finish with us. Ironically, he has never finished a half with me (he’s speedy, even if he is having an “off” race). We picked him up about mile 9. Marcy and I were really happy that everyone who wanted to run with the group was still with us and doing really well. We tried to pass the time with some jokes and I called out the miles with elapsed time as we got there.

We had just passed mile 12 when a girl collapsed to her knees right in front of us. She had been in front of us the whole race and she looked really strong, so the three of us immediately ran over to help. Her leg was cramping up and she was crying. It had locked up and she couldn’t move her foot and the cramping was so bad it was beginning to radiate to her hamstring and quad. I knew exactly what the cramping was like and hoped I could help her get it to subside, but it would take a minute. We agreed that Marcy would get the stick and the others across the finish line at the goal time and Sean and I would stay back with the injured runner. Thank goodness, the final water stop of the course was just ahead. We worked the cramp back a little and I ran ahead to get her water and Gatorade. She said she didn’t have any more energy gels left. Quick thinking prevailed. As a pacer, I always carry extra pretzels and jelly beans in a pouch for anyone that needs them. I knew she needed salt, so I offered her the pretzels, which she thankfully took. They quickly helped and she wanted to try to run it in. Sean and I assured her we would not leave her side until she crossed the finish line to her family.

Marcy, Sean and I with Elizabeth. She is truly an inspiration!

Marcy, Sean and I with Elizabeth. She is truly an inspiration!

We learned that her name was Elizabeth and this was her first half in five years. Sean told every story he could think of to take her mind off of any pain she might have been experiencing and gave her tips on running form and we invited her to come run with us at DRC. The best part was seeing the kick she had left in her as she saw that finish line. I could almost not keep up. As we crossed the mat, I grabbed a medal from a volunteer and put it on her neck. Elizabeth hugged me tight and just started to cry. She whispered that she hadn’t run a half in five years because she was looking for a kidney in that time and had just had a kidney transplant. Everything began to make sense and I told her I understood more than she knew. I was so proud of her and what she had accomplished. Marcy met the three of us at the finish line for pictures and we got to meet Elizabeth’s husband. The orange flower made so much sense at that moment. My orange flower was my declaration that we were there for all the runners out there that needed a boost, a little laugh, a few pretzels, or someone to just help you across the finish line. I was reminded that every day I get to run is a good day. Everything happens for a reason and I am now certain that I was meant to pace and be there to meet Elizabeth.

Seriously, the blog is called The Cupcake Mile. How does one not add the cupcake-after-the-race pic? ;)

Seriously, the blog is called The Cupcake Mile. How does one not add the cupcake-after-the-race pic? 😉