Yeah! I ran/walked the 500 Festival Mini Marathon on May 7, 2011 in 3 hours and 36 minutes. It was my single greatest physical achievement in my life (other than giving birth to my son). I definitely learned a lot during the process of “training” for the event. It was a very valuable experience in my life’s journey. I have heard it said before that the destination we find in life is not as important as the journey. I think that is very true with the exception of something that challenges you physically. At every mile marker during the Mini, with my sighted guide, Nicole Hull, ALL I could think about was the destination. I wanted to make it to the FINISH LINE!
The first lesson I learned on the path is, I could not have made it to the end without the camaraderie of my teammates, especially Nicole, an Employment Specialist at Bosma Enterprises who was selfless as a sighted guide. As she does everyday in her job, she let me run MY race. She simply guided me through the challenge. And, as part of the Bosma Enterprises’ team, I knew I owed it to my teammates to finish the race and to support the other people who were participating in the event.
The second lesson was realized at about mile ten. Our team coach, Heather Quigley-Allen, who happens to also be my boss, told the team, your mind will tell you to quit long before your body. I hate to admit, this is so true! My mind gave me a million reasons to quite several times but, I heeded her warning and my body persevered. I think that in my life’s journey when I think “I can’t, it won’t work, how could I possibly?” I will draw on the strength that I found somewhere deep inside to keep going. I had a lot of reasons why I could have not even started the race, “I had major surgery, I am blind, my dad died, fill-in-the-blank” but, not only did I start, I finished!
The last thing through the Mini Marathon journey is we all need support. Bosma Enterprises had a tent in the Runner’s Village where my thoughtful, early rising volunteers were there to greet me prior to the race. Then, at the very last Pit Station of the race, there were 40 volunteers manning the Bosma Pit Station. Aren’t volunteers the GREATEST? The Pit Station volunteers had to be positioned even before the race participants arrived. Not to mention, they had to stay later to clean up. They are the heroes in my eyes! I cannot even describe what it felt like to have friends, family, AmeriCorps* VISTAs cheering me on when I did not think I had the inner strength to go on. At Pit Station 16, my mind and body were in definite conflict. The support of others made my journey successful. And, isn’t just finishing to the best of your potential—good enough?
All my life I have been a perfectionist. This experience made me realize that in some cases, it is okay to accept finishing. I do not desire to be a world class runner. What I want is to embrace every journey in this life and to accept the destination when it makes sense to do so. I want to treasure my mentors, my friends, and supporters. Lastly, I know now that I can trust myself and others implicitly. Life is mostly about the journey but, the destination is important too, especially when it is 13.1 miles away.