April 28, 2014

Are you moving forward?

IMG_20140427_064215We headed out as the sun was trying to peek through some clouds and shine on the earth. There were a few holes where the pink could shine through and we could imagine the beauty being hidden. When we got downtown we circled around, drove backwards down a street, and finally found a place to leave the car. Keep your valuables hidden though, because they are not responsible for any theft which may take place. So we took our rain gear with us.

It sprinkled off and on as we walked through the streets. I felt blind. While I could see the magnificent buildings and towering structures I had no idea where we were going. It made me giggle when we found shelter next to the Hemingway Cafe, and if you follow me on Facebook you understand why. As the rain eased we started out to the next area. Statues were hidden under trees, buildings stood guarding what they held, and people everywhere ran to escape the possible storms on their way. We felt a bit like salmon going upstream, but we had no hotel room to wait out the race delay.

IMG_20140427_070930We did find a parking garage which suited us fairly well. A place to sit and stay dry were all we required, so picky wouldn't describe us. We sang songs which got stuck in our heads, "Let's Go Fly a Kite" is still in my brain this morning. We laughed and took pictures which were blurry but felt right for portraying our morning. We heard thunder which sounded as if it came from Texas and we watched big fat drops of water fall from the sky. There was pea sized hail, and the dampness began to make our cover smell like pea as well. We were thankful when the rain came to a halt and the race was about to start.

IMG_20140427_082209We realized we were one block away from the starting line when we heard the anthem sung and the crowds cheer, so we ran up the block and stood on the corner. We watched for the one running the first leg thinking the possibility of seeing her in the sea of people was not very strong. We did see Captain America, some ballerinas, several matching t-shirts, and some costumes which defy explanation. Before we headed back to the transit station to go to our relay points our girl ran right past us. Contact was made and the run up the block seemed legitimized.

As I got on the bus which would take me to the last relay exchange I sat in the very first seat which was available, which was on the first row. I couldn't imagine working my way to the back looking everyone in the face trying to find a seat. Memories of the school bus invaded my brain, and I quietly said hello to the man in the seat next to mine. As the bus filled up the driver was told he could go, so he closed the doors and told us, "I've never been in your city before, so good luck!"

That might perk your ears, but what he said next surely did, "I'm just following instructions. I have no idea where I'm going."

There was small laughter between myself and the gentleman next to me. Comments about ending up in Amarillo after the driver had to turn the bus around for turning the wrong way, and speechlessness as he got instructions from others on the bus. I couldn't help him. I was counting on him to know where we were going. Thankfully there were others who had the information and were alert enough to share.

IMG_20140427_092648When we got to the exchange there were people sitting everywhere, for when you are running the last leg of the race you have some waiting to do. Snacks, port-a-potties, and special blankets kept everyone happy for the first few hours as we waited. Once the runners began to come through no one needed to be kept happy.

The sun had finally come out, the rain had long since stopped, and the numbers were being called for the different relay teams. The crowds cheering and waiting for their person had filled all but one lane of the four lane road. I heard our number and waited. And waited. And wondered if I heard wrong. But then I saw him, my Captain, running towards me waving an arm. I waved back as if he hadn't seen me yet. When he reached me we exchanged the relay timer, and I directed him to the food, drinks, and bus to return him back to the finish line. The finish line I was now expected to run towards.

I've been running for two years now. I tell people all the time, so stop me if you have heard this, but when I first began I couldn't run 1/12th of a mile straight. I had no endurance or distance. I have run a few 5K's since that time, and that was what I was going to run this time. But Captain got sick, and he needed the 5K so I took the 10K. I ran it at the gym to show myself I could do it, but running in the gym is so much different than running in Oklahoma outside. Now, I know I sound like I am making excuses and I very well may be, but I did keep moving and for that I am proud. Because, friends, if I can be honest here, there were a few times I wanted to sit down and cry. But four other people had already done their part and they were waiting for me to cross that finish line for them at the best possible time I could get.

So I told myself to move, one foot after the other. And I would always run down the hills because gravity was helping me. And if the wind was ever to my back I took that advantage as well. And I heard those on the side of the road cheering the marathoners on, and knew I couldn't wimp out after they had done so much more, even if we are all running our own race. And I heard one man say, "I know it hurts, dig deep." And my mind raced back to the reason we were doing the race...

We traveled to visit my family. It was our first vacation home and I was so excited. Oldest was one, and it was his first plane ride. Or maybe second. But I couldn't wait to see my parents as we unloaded the plane. Coming into the area where they stood waiting, the feeling in the airport seemed to be electric. Before the hugs were done they asked us if we knew. Of course we didn't, the airport cable doesn't put real news on their televisions. There had been a bombing, in the heartland. Oklahoma City had been hit by a terrorist bomb and people were hurt and dead. And I remember following my parents out of the airport holding my child tight.

Yes, at that point in the race I hurt, but the heart reminded me that because I could do this I had to finish. Would it change anything from the past? No. Would it bring anyone back? No. But I would be living while I could, and I would be remembering those who don't. And my mind raced to all those things I was too scared to do, to timid to begin, and to worried to achieve, and I thought to myself, "If I'm alive I need to live."

And those thoughts, along with me yelling at myself to run and keep going, is what got me closer and closer to the finish line. I could see the word at the end of the street. FINISH. No more turns. Just the straight way. And suddenly three of my team members were running with me cheering me on. Honestly, part of me wished I could have been cheering right along side them, but I needed them in that moment and they got me where we were all headed. The finish line was crossed, and we beat our goal time by 6 minutes.

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I ended the day with a medal, a free hamburger, lots of memories, and a new challenge for myself. If I am allowed to live on this earth for one more day, what am I going to do in that day to show I was alive? Not that I don't have things to show already, but that is the past. Let's live the present so that we can move into the future.

Keep moving forward, friends.

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