Friday, May 29, 2015

"Back of the Pack"

Runners.....TAKE YOUR MARK.....Ready......Set.........GO!!!

Thousands of anxious runners began their 8K race through the streets of University Village just a few short weeks ago.  "Beat the Bridge" is a well established race which funds research on Juvenile Diabetes.  It was our privilege to run the race this year for many reasons.  Mer Udovich, one of the young girls on Morgan's soccer team, who is also precious to our family, was diagnosed with Juvenile diabetes.  Nothing like adding purpose to a race by knowing someone personally that it will benefit! 
I have run this race many, many times, but this year it was different; it was better.  This was Jacoby's first OFFICIAL race, besides her own.  She knew it would be challenging because it was cold, but she was so excited to be there for Mere and to show her support for people who live with diabetes.  
As Jacoby and I waited to start, until there was space for the wheelchair to "edge in", I surveyed the runners.  The scene was all too familiar to me...runners frantically checking to see if heart rate monitors were ready to go, music being set, watches being re-checked and runners darting in and out of one another to find an open spot.  
Jacoby and I were some of the last ones to step over the starting line; no point in fighting the crowd.  As her chair rolled over the starting tracker, that "competitive gymnast" resurfaced. SHE WAS IN A COMPETITION; we were going to DO THE THING!   Emotions ran high,  but I decided right away I could either run or cry, but I didn't have enough air to do both.  
Jacoby was readily looking for divots in the road and wheeling toward the smoothest areas.  BLESSED CHILD! In all the years I had ran this race, NEVER did I have to pay attention to the condition of the roads and sidewalks.  But, we were having a MARVELOUS time, just she and I.  Running as fast as we could ....when we could, and slowing down when the pavement demanded it.  We had to get to the bridge before it went up, and it was in our blood to BEAT THIS BRIDGE!

As we ran together, I had a whole new experience; the "Back of the Pack" Experience.  No longer did I pass people and try not to breathe hard....because the people we were running beside were breathing JUST AS HARD as we were, maybe harder. Frankly, it was awesome! We were all giving each other the "I got your back" glance and nods; we had become a family in the back.  We obviously all had our unique "hang ups" , but it created an atmosphere of "realness" I had never experienced in a race.  We were at Mile 3 and we had not even glanced at a watch once! 
We smiled at the people taking the time to cheer us on.  We noticed a precious little girl who had opened her window and was wavering at the runners that morning; we saw her little hand and waved back wildly at her.  She was absolutely thrilled we had seen her and reciprocated an equally "wild wave" and smile.  Tears burned my eyes as I realized we would have NEVER appreciated that precious little child had we not been in the circumstances we are in now.  Our "problem" was turning into an opportunity to see life from a different angle.  Perhaps we all need to view our problems differently.....a challenge to opportunity to succeed. 

p.s. We DID beat the bridge.....BARELY!