A couple weeks ago, I found what sounded like the perfect race event to wrap up our (at least for me) winter in Jacksonville. It was a 5k/10k Walk/Run event held ON Jacksonville Beach, at low tide, and most likely excellent weather. It even came with some pretty sweet bling/swag! So, I sat my happy little self down and signed up for the 10k – after all, it was just a 10k…(and I did consult with my social secretary/financial manager for appropriate approvals). Besides, I kind of liked the theme – “Never Quit” – and the website had some cool inspirational stories.
Shortly after I signed up, a friend agreed to try the 5k – she is new to running – and an amazing young woman. She will be running circles around me very, very soon! Bill jumped on the bandwagon and signed up for the 5k also.
Our race bibs had a place for us to write who or what we will never quit for. Wow, when I started thinking about that, I realized there were countless reasons – and they wouldn’t all fit in that little space. So I pondered…and pondered a little more.
Coincidentally – concurrently – I kept reading the same basic message in a variety of sources. It’s not the first time that this has happened – and I think that God realizes that it takes more than one “in my face” message for me to get it. Anyway, the concept was that of treating oneself with tenderness and compassion – the way you would treat someone that you love, respect, and admire. In my mind, this was a big leap from just trying to be nice to myself – cut myself some slack sort of thing. Even the yoga instructor encouraged us to embrace ourselves the way that God does.
Back to the bib. After thinking about the kindness and compassion bit for a while, I decided that I would write “myself” on my bib. I quickly got out the Sharpie and started writing before the guilty, doubting voices could kick in and persuade me to do otherwise. I decided that by promising to never quit and never give up on myself, I would be extending that promise to all those other people that I had considered writing on that bib. Really glad I used a Sharpie and did it quickly – because I would have changed that answer many times over. Even more glad I didn’t.
This morning, we finished the run. The weather was rainy/misty/windy/cold/gray – and a great day for a run? This particularly run has a very strong patriot theme to it. Runners are given the opportunity to carry the Colors (American Flag), and much emphasis is placed on military and first responders/police/fire personnel. The National Anthem was led by a WWII vet that will be 100 in 2 months. There were several other distinguished veterans there supporting the race. We were asked to introduce ourselves to someone we didn’t know, and share our story about who/what we were never quitting for. I met a young woman that was running for her brother – active duty and deployed. When it was my turn to share, I was surprised at how emotional it was for me to express my reason.
I will be very careful about saying a race is “just a 10k”. Sure, it is only 6 miles and some change. The “why” is the kicker. Let me share some incredible “whys” – besides the WWII vet, and the young lady running for her brother…there was the lady pushing a front-wheeled walker on the sand – finishing a 5k – I’m guessing she was recovering from a stroke. The guy that I passed on the 10k route that had a very noticeable gait disturbance, every step looked to be a struggle – and a victory. Three kids taking turns pushing an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair (think sandy beach). All the really cool why stories I was privileged to hear when I asked on our journey. My friend that finished her 3rd 5k today, and PR’d. Bill finishing the 5k (early morning, rain, cold, running on minimal caffeine, but supporting my crazy). All the active duty men and women that came out to present us with our medals. My “what/who” feels pretty insignificant compared to the incredible things I’ve seen and heard today, but I am incredibly proud to have been a part of this event. It is my sincere hope/wish/intent to be a part of this next year, and to step up and carry the Colors for the 10k.
Give it some thought – what would you write on your bib? Never Quit!