This race was destined to be either my best race ever or my worst race ever. Sure, I was in the middle of a raging UTI, but more importantly, race #2 of the OC Chili Trail Run Series fell on the morning of the funeral for Sweet Baby James. Being an emotional runner to begin with (there’s rarely a race where I don’t tear up at some point), I feared knowing I would have to run home immediately after the race to be on time for the funeral would cause emotions too hard to handle. But if I was able to somehow harness the grief, the pain and the anger, maybe I could use it to push myself further, faster and harder.
The race felt good until mile 4. That’s usually the time my mind starts to lose focus on this 5 mile race and my brain starts telling me it’s time to quit. I quickly tried to quiet the voices and turned my thoughts to Baby James and then to my own baby. But of course, my chest started to tighten and tears began to well. I tried telling myself “you can do this for James” but it didn’t help. It was so hard to breathe. The small hill seemed insurmountable. I wasn’t sure I would make it. A wave of sadness started to envelope me.
Then all of a sudden, my thoughts turned to my friend Erin. I started thinking about how hard it must be for her to even breathe this morning, the morning she would have to say her final goodbye’s to her sweet baby. I thought about how she must be wondering how she will get through this seemingly insurmountable day let alone the next week and month. I thought about how a mother who loses a child must wonder how she will ever survive the heartache.
That’s when I realized I didn’t need to run this race for James, I needed to run it for Erin, because compared to what she was going through at this same moment, what I was going through was nothing. I knew she would find her breath. I knew she would face this day (and many others) with courage and strength. I knew that even in those moments where she will feel like she will never survive, she will, because she is an extraordinary woman with faith, family and friends that won’t let her quit.
It was then that I found the strength through Erin and for Erin to finish the race strong and with a smile on my face (even passing a couple men in the last mile with a sweet “See ya at the finish!” as I went by).
It was neither my best race or my worst race (only 2 seconds slower than the first race in the series), but the entire day will definitely go down in history as one of the most emotionally challenging and memorable days of my life..
Finish Time (5 miles) : 40:10
Overall Finish: 23rd
Age Group Finish: 2nd