I have this colleague who is a marathon runner. Well, technically, I have several colleagues who are distance runners, but this one in particular did something that I always remembered when he ran the New York marathon a few years back. He'd just lost his mother and, though he'd run many long distance races before, his mind was in a different place for that race. New York was home for his family. This race would be more meaningful.
So what did he do? He took out a piece of paper and created a list. A list of special people who'd had a great impact on him in his life and then dedicated one of those twenty six miles to each of them. He kept that list on his person--and even memorized a lot of it---and you know what? It really motivated him.
Especially the "mama miles."
I'm not interested in running a full marathon. No ma'am, no sir, I am not. But this weekend will be a pivotal one for me. It's the Army Ten Miler and amongst the 35,000 runners out there, one of them will be me.
Harry has run that race lots of times as a former Army guy. When I went to cheer him on in the past, I loved the energy of the race and always secretly aspired to be out there one day. I remember telling Deanna at my kitchen table that I wanted to do that race at some point in my life. And, of course, she said, "Then do it!" And then, in true Deanna form, she started sending me emails with contact information for friends of hers that had gotten into distance running. One of those friends was Crystal H. who I've leaned upon many times since I got more serious about this goal.
So I thought of my colleague and that practice of dedicating miles to those who've inspired him. I imagined him exhausted on that fifteenth mile and pushing on with the image of one of his sons in his head. And of course I could see him powering through the toughest parts of the race-- those "mama miles"--with her love and encouragement getting under his feet like jets.
He adored his mother and was very, very sad when she passed on. I could see that pain that day when he told me about that New York marathon and knew that this practice of dedicating parts of the race to her would be therapeutic. I made a point of remembering the time of year that he lost his mom. And every year during that time I ask him something about her. I do. He always looks so moved when I do and you know? You can still see the hurt seared deep down into him. I now know that some parts of that kind of pain just doesn't go away.
So me? I'm going to sit down and dedicate my ten miles. I am. I already know that miles three and five will be for Deanna for sure because three was her favorite number and the fifth mile of any run is always hard for me. And maybe I will dedicate mile ten to Deanna, Will and JoLai together. Either way, I'm going to write it down and memorize it. I'm going to visualize each person cheering for me on the sidelines for that whole mile. And then I'm going to give it my all.
My all, man.
I missed my sister terribly this week. It's like I saw her in every little thing and all of that kept making me want to talk to her. The other day I felt the fall bite in the air. While looking for a jacket, I touched one of the scarves she'd crocheted for me that I saw hanging in the closet. I thought about how, if she were here, she would have made me at least two more including one for Zachary's football team. Then I just dropped my head and wept. Hard. And this time it was mostly because there are so many days that I still can't believe she's gone and this was one of them. I still can't believe she's gone.
But I tell you. I get it. I get it when people find some meaningful activity to do after losing someone important. And, for me, something about that activity being one that betters my heart and makes me feel strong is a comfort. It really is. Knowing that I told her that this was something I wanted to do and that I have put in work to actually do it feels like I'm honoring her. And Deanna was all about celebrating and honoring people. She was intentional about these kinds of things and taught me a lot about being that way, too.
I don't know exactly which mile will go to whom. But I am excited about the idea. And, okay, technically my colleague got that mile dedication idea from an article he read about the Republican dude Mike Huckabee who'd done that when running a marathon. Though I have nothing against Mike Huckabee and am sure he's a nice man, I think I'd rather just let my colleague have props for my decision to put faces with miles instead Mr. Huckabee.
So the huddle today is about adding some meaning behind what you do. Set goals with you in mind but also see if it might help to dedicate some part of the goal to a special person. Or special people. No question: This goal of running a long distance race has been 100% dedicated to my sister Deanna. And her inspiration has made me stronger and more diligent. I will see her face smiling and hear her voice cheering. I will.
And then? I'll win.
That I know for sure.
Happy Thursday-almost-Friday. Wish me luck! Wooah!!
My linesister Glencia was also inspired by Deanna when she did a triathlon on my sissy's birthday. She finished strong and I love knowing that Deanna helped her.