So now what you’re thinking is, “How did this love of life come about because of a bucket list”? Let’s go back to my “younger years”, my early 20’s to be precise (well as precise as you’re going to get). I started making a bucket list of things I wanted to do before I turned 30. You know things that most people would put on a bucket list…. backpack Europe with a “stranger” – check; learn to cook something new – check, check, check; run a marathon… Hold up… Did you say run a marathon? Uh no! Not on my bucket list. Well remember I said I was in my early 20’s, why wouldn’t this sound like a great idea; I mean I’d run exactly 4 road races in my life at that point – none of which without stopping for a walk break.
Let’s fast forward a few years and I just turned 29 … It’s now or never. At this point too many people knew about the bucket list not to do it, so I go to my local chapter of Team In Training, because, let’s face it, it’s always better to have others who can enjoy “the suck” with you. And I agree to raise money for those battling blood cancer while training for my first marathon, sounds better than simply crossing off a bucket list item.
I show up at the orientation in awe of about 30 people who all have the same goal, running a marathon – the Disney Marathon to be exact. I meet our team leaders and a very charming young man who from now on will be referred to as “Coach Prince Charming” (or CPC for short) after all he was our running coach for the Disney marathon. After the hoopla of the meeting was over I kindly told CPC that I was ready to “do this”. He asked how many half marathons I had run. I quickly replied “zero”. He was slightly perplexed and asked how many road races I had done. To which I replied “four but none over a 15k”. At this point his perplexed look turned to a look of horror as he realized he had his work cut out for him.
Let’s fast forward through the 6ish months of training where I learned a lot about love of myself and the love of the solidarity of training long runs. Your “inner me” can get pretty loud when you’re running 15, 16, 20+ miles alone. There are things that you wish you never said to yourself and times when you are your biggest fan. I also learned that I LOVED training with a group. Miles go by much faster when you have someone to “share the suck” with.
So it’s race day…. It’s a very
warm freezing day in Florida – 34 degrees to be exact. It’s January 2010. I got up at about 3:00 am to prepare for the day I had trained for, for the last 6 months. My teammates surrounded me, CPC was there and we all made our way to the start line for the 5:30 am start. The 26.2 miles of the Disney Marathon winds it’s way through the Disney World parks. At mile 13 I had a surprise “fan” – one of my college friends! It was so great to see her even if it was for a few seconds. I saw my family at mile 18. At mile 20 (the true half way for a marathon runner) I picked up CPC. To this day he will say I was the last Team In Training member on course so he had to finish with me… I remember it a bit differently, but this is the first time that I felt that something different for CPC… a little spark if you will. I literally spent the last 6.2 miles running into love, with CPC. I crossed the finish line and met up with my family; it was a fantastic feeling and one I will do again.
One would imagine that the rest would be history, but that was not the case…. In fact our first date wasn’t for another 7 months when I stood him up for the birth of my nephew, but a few days later the rest was history. History in that I found “my person”, I found a love of endurance sports, I found a love of competition, I found a love of life and most importantly – I found out I LOVE finding myself!