My sister Devin ran The "Last Chance for Boston" Marathon this morning.
The race consisted of 26 1-mile loops, and the course was steps outside of our hotel. The race started in pouring rain, heavy winds and freezing cold.
Devin ran a blistering 19 miles, but the wind and her nutrition would compromise her final miles and her ultimate goal of qualifying. She finished in 3:48, just over her needed qualifying time.
However, Devin placed THIRD in her age group. THIRD!!!!!!!
That is the race in summary. However, I have a few thoughts I wanted to share (you know I do - I always have something to say!)
I had the honor of running with Devin for the last three and a half miles. By that point, she had dug about as deep as she could to pull out whatever she had left. I am not sure at what point she realized she did not make the cut, but it didn't matter - she kept going. In those miles I ran next to her, she spoke not one word. She pulled her arms in close, held her head high, set her eyes ahead, and plodded along. What she was thinking, I may never know. But what I did know is that she left it out there, that she did everything she could to meet the goal she set, and she finished. That, despite feeling the worst pain she has ever felt, she finished her 26 loops.
Devin never once quit. Devin never quits. Devin never looked at that clock and thought, "Eff it, it's over, I am done." Just like everything else she does in her life, she saw it through to the end.
At about Mile 25, I looked over at her and I knew she was struggling. I would have given anything at that point to strap her to my back and carry her home. I felt helpless, so I just keep talking, joking, even singing "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen. I told her small steps, high cadence, I told her she was stronger than the wind, I told her she was toughest person I knew. I didn't tell her I loved her, but I hoped she knew it.
And when I left her at that final 1/4 mile before the finish, I told her that I was proud of her. It was all I could to do to hold back my tears, but it wasn't because I was sad. In fact, I was so bursting with pride that she let me join her, that she fought it out, and that she never once let the race break her.
And that I can call this woman my sister is the biggest honor I have.
In eight weeks from today, I hope that I can attack my own race with the same intensity and focus and strength that Devin put out there today. I hope that, no matter what is thrown at me that day, that I will overcome it. I hope that my family will watch me with the same pride as I had today, and that they will walk away knowing that I left it all on the road.
Like many things in life - racing, relationships, work- we don't always know how things are going to turn out. Sometimes all we can do is set goals, try our best, and hope for the best. For me, the best I can do is put all my heart into these aspects of my life, and then walk away knowing I did what I could. I know life isn't easy - I don't expect it to be - but I know that, so far, I have been able to take on and over "the difficult." Do I overanalyze my life? Absolutely (have you read my blog?!?!) But beyond the obsessive compulsiveness it might present as, this need to look so deeply at things, to me, is my way of showing how much I truly care about that issue.
If I didn't care, I wouldn't waste my time.
And like Devin's race, the things in my life may not always work out how I had hoped. Sometimes, they work out better, and sometimes not at all. But if I can say anything about myself, it's that I never walk away leaving stones unturned. If I truly love something or someone, I give my heart, my energy, my being to making it the best it can be.
So if things don't work out how I hope for them, then I can be at peace knowing at least I took that risk. For Devin, she may not have qualified, but she found out something about herself today, she never quit, and she came in third for her age group. She learned a lot of lessons on the course, some race-related (like nutrition), and some personal (like how to run through the worst pain she has ever known).
For me, the multitude of life issues I have on my plate will all ultimately teach me something, even if they do not work out as I hope. Does that thought break my heart? Absolutely. Even writing out the words "do not work out" squeezes my heart. Sometimes I can barely breathe with the thought of certain things not developing into what I believe they can be – but I have the utmost faith in things working. However, I can only do my part, and you can bet I will do it to the best of my abilities.