Her day started out just like any other. It even ended very much the same way. But something had happened in between. She was no longer the same person.
Something had happened to change her: a journey, a quest, a transformation; whatever it was, she was different. She was stronger, fiercer, more resilient. Somewhere along the way that day, she had lost something. The remnants of fear and anxiety and unease that had been fixtures in the deep pit of her stomach had vanished. She couldn’t tell you when it happened. Somewhere along the way, she had also gained something. Acceptance, compassion, contentment. She couldn’t tell you exactly when that happened either.
Maybe it was that morning as she dressed. She brushed her hair and took a long look at herself in the bathroom mirror. “By this time tomorrow, you will have a run a marathon,” she told herself with a half-smile.
Maybe it was at the start line when she stood with a mere handful of other runners, all a bit thinner than she with their long lean gazelle-like legs, all seemingly repeat marathon runners, laughing and joking with each other as she stood off to the side and just watched. She’d thought there would be more runners doing the marathon. Apparently, most had opted for the half-marathon or for the 5k. As the race announcer shouted, “on your mark, get set, GO!” the few marathon contenders shot off like Olympians, all except for one. Her. She started off with a slow jaunt, continuing to look all around her, as if she was taking snapshots in her mind to remember later, to capture each moment as it went by. She had already told herself that she may come in last place, she knew she wouldn’t be the fastest runner. When she cold no longer see the runners in front of her, she accepted that she probably would finish last.
“It doesn’t matter. You are running your race; not his race, not her race, your race.”
She felt calm, as a blanket of still serenity washed over her. She remembered the poem that only moments ago, she shared with her friends, “Winning is rising every time you fall. Get up and win that race.” No matter what happens that day, by simply crossing that start line and facing her fears head on, she would never ever be the same person again.
She had already won.
And win, I did, friends. I started strong and I finished strong, and I had many unforgettable and special moments in between. I’ll share many of them as my body and mind continue to recover over the next couple of weeks. Sparing the nitty-gritty details, my legs were very sore yesterday, and today, though I am in wonderful spirits, my brain and body are just extremely tired and fatigued.
But in attempt to capture the magnitude and transformation of self, a little story…
My mom and I loved to listen to the David Wilcox song, “Johnny’s Camaro.” It’s actually more of a story set to guitar music, and it is brilliant. We would quote it and laugh over it when something happened that would remind us of a line from the song (and there are many such lines). The song is basically a story of transformation. A young girl changing, growing, leaving as one person, coming back as another.
At one point in my marathon, as I was crossing a major intersection at mile eighteen (of twenty-six), a Sheriff Deputy directing traffic gave me a thumbs up and a sly grin and said to me as I ran by, “I don’t know how you made it this far!”
I wasn’t sure what to make of that at the time, but I smiled and said, “I don’t know either!” and thanked him and kept on running.
It didn’t dawn on me until later the next day. I was thinking of the race and some of the signs and odd things that had happened (there were a lot!). I was thinking also about transformation and growth and the peace and confidence that comes with meeting a goal, how does one put that in words? “I feel content,” I wrote to a friend, “although that’s not quite the right word. It’s more that I feel like I don’t have to prove anything to myself anymore.” And that’s when it hit me, when I remembered the song that mom and I loved. One of its lines echoed in my mind, and I got goosebumps as I realized my Deputy was the same as Laura’s tour guide (in the song). “How’d you get up there?” A question from the song that mom and I would jokingly ask each other sometimes.
“She didn’t know she could jump that high.”
Ah. But I do now.
“I don’t know how you made it this far!”
I didn’t either. Ah, but, I do now.
Thank you for reminding me Mom.
I think I’ll go buy myself a silver bracelet this week.
Please listen to this song/story. I know you’ll love it. The live version is like an extended deluxe version, and even more brilliant at capturing that “transformation” that, that, “well you know”, than the original. But if you’re short on time, the original version HERE is the one Mom and I listened to; it’s brilliant too. It appears on David’s album “East Asheville Hardware” available on Amazon HERE. (As an aside, I think the album and a silver cuff bracelet would make a creative present for any female in your life that has overcome odds and transformed herself in some way.)
More marathon stories to come, my gratitude to you all for the support and encouragement. I hope today finds you well.