To My Running Team

Last weekend I ran in the third annual Shawn Silvera 5K Memorial Run and beat my time from last year of 30:02 with 28:07! Participating with 200 other runners was invigorating. Specifically motivating was the privilege of running with my own personal running team consisting of Ben–one of the co-chairs for the run, Karissa–my dear friend and personal trainer, Sarah-my college roommate and her friend, Kathy (both avid runners).  Without a doubt, my drop in time is linked to this dedicated coaching group and their unfailing cheers that told me I could keep going.

Dear Running Team,

What a highlight to my summer to run with each of you. Usually when I tell people about my running endeavors I quickly follow up my explanation with, “I am not a runner.” I often feel inadequate in my athletic abilities and I easily allow my mind to convince me that I am not up to the challenge.

At least on Saturday before the race I felt relaxed and willing to try. Still I was nervous with what the actual results would show. This is where my thank you list begins.

Karissa, thank you for helping me warm-up before the run. My body felt flexible and ready to start when the race began. I felt your energy and adopted it as my own.

Ben, thank you for instructing me how to breathe: to relax and let the air enter and exit on its own-using my mouth as an open channel–making it effortless really. You coached me to stay upright and not restrict the breathing. The key was to let my entire body work together instead of hunching over or tightening up. You told me not to look down, but set my eyes ahead. And so it is with life I believe- it works so much better when we don’t force it– when we don’t constrict and control.

Sarah, I loved when you told me at the half way mark to think about Shawn. I felt immense pride in my next stride and a sense to be strong with my run.

Ben, thank you for tracking my pace and running in front of me when I became overwhelmed. I remember you pointing to your back and I immediately knew that sign meant focus. Your direction kept me steady.

In the last mile I wanted to give up. Still convinced I am not a runner, I wanted to sit down on the pavement and be finished. My mental strength couldn’t feed my physical strength and I heard myself mutter in defeat, “I am done.”

Kathy heard me and rallied to my side. I noticed her fall back a step as if to cover me or“have my back.” I heard her and Sarah say, “You can do this…you are doing this…you are doing great.” Ultimately I heard them say, “You are not done.”

I grabbed Sarah’s elbow wishing I had a rope. I would have rather been dragged.

Reaching behind to pull me forward by my hand, Karissa’s voice was in front of me. “You were made to do this,” she said.

We passed the final bend around the lake. The water was green and shimmering with the early summer sun. Ben told me I was keeping my time. I was positive I was on the edge of thirty minutes. Then I heard Karissa yell the number twenty-eight and even though I couldn’t read the runner’s clock at the end of the route, I knew to run hard.

Crossing the finish line I dared myself to think, maybe I am a runner. Maybe I do have what it takes. Maybe I am able to push myself and succeed. Maybe it is as much in my mind as it is in my body. Maybe I am designed to keep going, keep trying…keep running.

To all of you, who helped me, thank you. Thank you for your devotion. I know each one of you could have run much faster than me with impressive times and accomplishment. Instead you chose to take my speed–bringing me along with you and allowing me to see new possibilities. I cannot define friendship in a better way.

My best to you,

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