Today I will run the Runner's World Half Marathon.
Today... and with a goal of doing so everyday... I will celebrate progress.
The progress I have made physically, spiritually, emotionally and as an all around individual this last year over the last several months has been significant for me. Today's run is about remembering how far I have come, learning to believe in myself in a deeper way and thank and recognize those who have played a role in that over the last year.
As this came to me recently on one of my long runs, I ran a little faster because I have gratitude in my heart for each of these individuals. Much could be said about them, but as I go in to my run, while I push towards a good race, I also will thank God for these people as part of my path as the miles tick away.
Mile 1- My Colombia team mates.
Not enough words can be said about each of these people. By name: Michael, Paula, James, Eric, Paula Lou, Barb, Angie, Gil, Keith, and Ed. Each one of them played a role in helping me grow. I have written blogs about them, so I won't overload this one, but they all became special. This team made a difference in helping me see who I am. They loved me, laughed with me, cried with me, prayed for me and helped me see Jesus in all new ways. I am forever changed because of my interaction with them and how they taught me about life, love, and the Lord. With this team, for the first time since I'd lived in Ohio again, I felt a huge part of something. A few have become lifetime friends for me. You guys know who you are and the fact that you play a role in my every day life today. I cannot say enough about how they have become a huge piece of my progress forward.
Mile 2- My Colombian Family
Tia, Paola, Yuleida, Sol, Mileth, Christina, Christian. Each of these individuals is unique. Each one has played a part in reshaping me this year. All of them come from a place of little to nothing. All of them are fighters for what they believe in. All of them live a way of life that I, as an American, will never be able to fully grasp. And all of them have true happiness radiating from the inside out because of their relationship with God. They helped me realize that who I am is beautiful. They have helped me grow and become strong. And they have helped me appreciate life on a deeper level. As with each of these miles and each of these individuals, I cannot say enough about how my little Colombian family has come to be a part of my heart.
Mile 3- Sharon E.
Sharon and I have only been friends for one year. I met her through my job and we connected. She was a runner, but she has become so much more in my life. She supported my mission trip with great interest, prayer and investment. She has been there for me when I needed to talk out life. She sends random gifts in the mail to me, which means a great deal to me because each little thing she sends me seems to be just what I need at that time. She knows me well, even though we've only been friends for a year. Faith connects us, even though miles separate us. She helps me believe in me and she helps me find my voice sometimes. She is a special piece of my journey in 2016.
Mile 4- Ed and Aunie
I had to couple these 2 together only because if I don't, I will have to run a full marathon to share the various people who have played a role in the last year. Ed I have known for 3 years. We speak a few times a year and he comes in to Dayton once a year for the AF Marathon. As time has gone on, he has led an example that I have come to admire and learn from. He leads strongly, though not loudly. He is confident in who he is and what his standards are. He is loving and loved by all around him. He has most taught me to fight for me. To fight through the bad days. To be a stronger woman because of the rocky patches. And most of all, to not let others look down on me, even if I view myself as the underdog. He probably has no idea he's done all that just from our brief interactions, but I am a deep thinker and an observer, and I admire his example. He has played a role this year.
Aunie lives miles away, too. But she is so encouraging. Her dedication to her faith and her fitness inspire me to be more dedicated to mine. When I haven't believed in my goals, Aunie has helped tell me it's ok. Her determination to never quit has set an example for me to do the very same. As she has pounded out miles through her races, even when she was exhausted and wanted to quit.... I will pound out mine tomorrow, too. And celebrate the fact that God has placed her in my life
Mile 5- Janet H.
Janet is a special woman in my life. She has supported my journey every step of the way. She knows my flaws and my strong points. She loves me through them all. She has prayed for me and listened to me, cried with me, and laughed with me. She has probably been my longest standing friend here in Ohio since we moved here. She doesn't always understand my battles, but she is always there to support me nonetheless. And honestly, she is one of the very few people I have reached out to in my darkest of days when I have had life-threatening thoughts. This year she has helped me see the real me and helped me grow more into that woman. She celebrates my progress. She helps me from going backwards. She is a strong beam of support in my journey.
Mile 6- Steck and Tammy
These 2 have come to be incredibly special people in my life. I had been praying for some friends and then I stumbled into a TRX class. Little did I know what that class and those people would come to mean to me. Tammy makes me laugh so hard; Steck is hilarious as well. Together they make a great team. In time they became great friends to me. Steck is the instructor of TRX and he pushes me to limits I didn't know could be possible. He has believed in me unlike many have and he has celebrated my progress just as much as I have. He has pushed me physically, but he encourages me emotionally more than he knows. He has helped me reach strength I didn't know I had. And when I reach one point he pushes me to another, all the while encouraging and celebrating it. He is more than an instructor, he is my friend. Tammy, his wife, is beautiful. She makes me laugh. She has cried with me. She has listened to my anxieties and fears. She has helped me see myself in a different light. She understands me and even remembers what some of my bad day triggers are. She is funny as all get out, but fierce when need be and helps me find that same fighter inside me. She has become one in whom I can confide. I had no idea when I stumbled into that class that it would become such an answer to prayer in my life. Those 2 have played a huge role in my progress over the last 6 months, and I will run a mile for them.
Mile 7- Aaron and Meghan
There is no such thing as coincidence. Finding the TRX class was a God-given move. I met Aaron there, and through Aaron, I met Meghan. Both have come to play a huge role in my life in the last few months. Aaron's compassion touched a place in my heart that needed help. He has encouraged me to keep loving when I've wanted to quit. He's prayed for me when no one else had asked that for months. He has high five and encouraged and helped me grow. He's the best in the class and so he pushes me to be stronger physically too. But one of the greatest things is that he has become my friend ... and my pastor. He encourages me spiritually. As I'd been praying for a new place to call home along with my family, Aaron played a role I didn't expect. And our family has shifted to become part of his church family. He leads with love. He's asked if I'm ok on days when others had no idea. And he's a God-given gift in helping me learn to celebrate progress, even when I am fighting through tough times.
Meghan also is from the church. To say how our friendship unfolded takes too many pages, but I am thankful of the outreach she does through social media which led me to meeting her. We've become coffee friends, running friends, and she's become another one in whom I can confide. She's listened gracefully and supported faithfully. I am so thankful that she has been placed in my path. she lives Jesus and helps me to do the same.
Mile 8- Cheri
Cheri is special. She works down the hall and many days I have found myself in her office in tears. Or we have shared laughs. But more often than not, she is listening to me on my bad days. She's been there for my meltdowns and she's helped pick me up. We've shared races together. We've prayed for each other. We've discussed religion and faith and marriage and kids. She is strong and I admire her strength. She has helped with my 5K and she has helped me know that I'm ok on days I feel I'm falling apart. She has become a faithful, special, dear friend. I am better because Cheri is in my life.
Mile 9- Rob
Rob plays a unique role in my life. He's my boss, but he is also my friend. I have learned so much from watching Rob manage in how to better manage things myself. I have learned skills that I don't think I could have learned elsewhere and he has truly taken time to invest in my growth. He pushes me to be better, to find myself, to be me and to keep going. He listens and he guides. He is a great leader and has helped me to develop those same qualities in my own style. He's silly and fun but so hard working and determined. He has taught me to keep going. He has brought out the fighter in me and helped me throw the punches when need be. He allows me to be deep and tries to understand the crazy side of me, too. He's not always on the front page of what's going on with my growth, but he's always there to encourage it and push it one step forward. I am stronger because of how he's helped me grow.
Mile 10- Michelle
My cousin Michelle and I are a few years apart. We live states apart. And we never spent a ton of time together growing up. But in the last year we have grown super close. Her mom, my aunt, is one of the few women close to me who truly understand my journey because she has known me my entire life. Somehow, through all that, as my aunt and cousin came to visit this summer, Michelle and I connected in a new way. We now talk every day. We confide in one another. We push each other to keep going and keep growing. She has cheered me on. We have worked on fitness in a sense together and we have worked on life together over the last few months. It came as a surprise to me, but Michelle has come to play a large role in helping me celebrate progress and keep going.
Mile 11- Michael
This blog cannot go without my writing about how my family has helped my progress. Michael and I have our bumps and rocky spots. But marriage is probably one of the biggest triggers of growth- be it through good days or bad. He puts up with my moods, endures my long hours training, watches me plug away in school and picks up the pieces when I cannot. I love him and I would not be the same person were he not in my life.
Mile 12- Elizabeth
My daughter is growing in to a young woman now. In a few short years, she will be graduating. As she grows, and this year especially, she has helped me to grow as well. She challenges me at times with her spiritual questions. She wants to know things that I don't know and I have to look in to to give her a sufficient answer. She openly shares with me, which helps me to answer things for her that I am afraid to answer for myself at times. She likes to hug as much as I do. We are both crazy emotional at times, but it's like looking in a mirror some days, which honestly helps me to push to be better. She strives to be the best at what she does and she inquires about life as deeply as I do. She reminds me of my mom in her looks and mannerisms. And she is breaking out of her shell, encouraging me to keep doing the same.
Mile 13- Joseph
I saved my son for my last mile. Because this year he has pushed me to a new level of growth and progress. As he enters slowly into becoming a young man, I am watching him transform. He's figuring himself out and he's doing it mostly on his own. We have had new conversations this year that will be ones to sit in my soul for a lifetime. He loves God and wants others to love God, too. He's strong but he is sensitive. And he is a fighter, not a quitter. As he has run cross country, I have watched him grow leaps and bounds and it has inspired me. I had to miss his last meet this weekend for work, but he got his best time ever, which only pushes me to want to do well today. I want him to be proud of me, as I am of him. He took 11 minutes off his time this season. And he did it by not quitting. The truth is, he came in last place at every meet. But he never cared. He never quit. He never even let that bother him. He pushed through the tough feelings he had and he kept going. Never once did I see him walking. He kept a steady pace. He pushed. He fought. And he will help me do the same through this last mile. I am a proud mama, yes. But I believe sometimes it's ok to be that. He has helped me grow this year and in my last mile, I will fight through and I will celebrate him and I will celebrate the progress... and the finish of the race
All of these people have played a large role in my growth this year. In the days that I want to quit, some of them have been the only ones to cheer me on, in their own way. Today I run.
Today I celebrate progress.
Today I thank God for these people.
Today I will finish strong.
I don't have any clue what my time will be. This race is HILLY. But I know that really, I've already come out a winner. Even this weekend I have allowed myself to see new concepts and that has pushed me further. So... here's to another half marathon and the celebration of progress.....
Stay tuned tomorrow for a recap.