part 1: Best day ever
part 2: We had it all
part 3: My darkest hour
After Allison and John took a mile or more each to finish what was to be my run (so generous of them) It was Linda's, Jen, Allison, Carly and John's turn to take on their legs. During this time, I tried to hydrate, pick myself up from the crappy night I had, dry my tears and support my team on their runs. The sun barely broke the horizon and the heat was returning.
I still had to get cleared by medical to ensure that I could run that day but I was sure I'd have the chance. I was feeling fearful of that run though. It was only a 4.1 mile run but now I was doubting myself. What if I failed again? What if I couldn't do it? My tummy never recovered and walking around with a lack of sleep, a bad stomach, heat, and nursing the wounds from the night before was tough. But I tried to put on a brave face and suck it up. I still wanted to enjoy this experience in spite of it all.
I reached medical and they asked how I felt - I said, "OK" they told me to drink water and gave me some salt pills and I was cleared. Ok. That was easy.
The thing that did come from all of this was my "It's a Wonderful Life" moments.
Once Katie and others from Van 1 started to hear of my night, i got beautiful messages of support and worry from them. The whole team started to work out what needed to be done to get us all to the finish line in time. They never once made me feel like I f'ed everything up - they never once expressed to me how I set them back and I appreciated that so much.
I couldn't really even talk to my hubby about it yet but he simply had my son text me this:
Just what I needed.
And then I reached out to my Moms In Motion running coach, Dana, and told her I had a bad night. I'm not sure what she did or what she said, but she must've put out word to the other moms that I had a third leg coming up and to send me some support. I'm sure she didn't mention my bad time because no one brought it up, but my email was flooding with messages like, "Jen, you are so inspirational to all of us! Run strong and have a great race this afternoon!"
It all made me feel like George Bailey at the end of "It's a Wonderful Life." It didn't matter if I tried and failed, it didn't matter if I had to walk or crawl or even bow out. I had all of these people who legitimately cared about me. If I was George Bailey and facing jail, people would help and Clarence would get his wings. I was the luckiest girl alive. The love of my family, van, team and fellow moms really made me re-prioritze and appreciate all that I have instead of "woe as me-ing" over the bad run the night before. My heart swelled with gratitude for it all.
I was nervous but I was determined. We kicked around for a few hours, stopped for lunch and headed to the transition. I was still shaky but looked down at the pink band that I wear in honor of Heather Boyum, I thought of the kind words from my fellow MIM's, teammates and the sign from my son - and I soaked in the fact that the two vans converged to see me off on this run. People cared and were rooting for me, they would love me no less if I failed. As a perfectionist, and someone who puts so much pressure on herself to succeed - this was a big revelation for me. I could relax and just do my best, whatever my best was.
I told myself, I was going to do this. I was going to make this count in a big way. I was going to have the best run of my life or die trying.
It. was. hot. And it was slow. But I never stopped running. Not for one second. I didn't walk. I plowed on, head up and smiling. I would touch my pink bracelet and run for Heather. I was lucky and blessed to be there. I was lucky and blessed to run. My van beeped, hooted and hollered as they passed by - so did van 1. I kept going. I downloaded "Key Largo" to my iPod after our sing-a-long and it made me so happy to hear that I laughed to myself the whole time it played. I saw my team around 2 miles and barely slowed to swig some coconut water. They knew by my smile that I was running strong. I had this.
In Ragnar, if you pass a runner, it's called "roadkill." Now I was the one usually being 'killed' but in this run, I "killed" two runners. Yes. I did. Go me.
Because of the heat and lack of shade, it did feel like a long 4 miles (in fact my Nike and Garmin says the run was more like 4.6 miles and not the 4.1 the books says… but who's counting?) As I was towards the end of the last mile I spotted my team off in the distance. I pointed at them and screamed, "I'm coming home!" I started to Jersey-girl fist pump and my team began to jump up and down enthusiastically. Come what may, I was finishing my third leg and finishing strong!! Tears sprung to my eyes as I passed the baton to Linda for her run and collapsed into the hugs of my other van mates. I was never so happy to overcome something. I felt like it was my come-back run. And of-course in my enthusiasm I had to tell my team about my passing other runners, "And I killed two people!" I shouted in my full-on Jersey accent. My team laughed and told me that I might want to keep that quiet. I guess when you sound like Tony Soprano, it just doesn't sound so cute.
First the great salt caper and now the kills. Key West never knew what hit them! Hee hee.
I am so thankful for everything that day. I'm happy that I had to run again because if I hadn't, that night-before run might've paralyzed me from running for a while and this forced me to "get over it" and not just wallow in it forever. I learned so many lessons and so much joy came out of that dark hour that, while I wouldn't wish it to happen to anyone or to me ever again, I can find some peace in it now.
Now, with this run behind me, we were just a few short hours from the finish line.