A solemn walk

Tomorrow, I’ll be doing the Outer Banks Half Marathon in, well, the Outer Banks, NC, with a group of friends. This will be my second time doing this race and my 17th half marathon overall. (Whew!)


Most of our gang after the OBX race in 2012

Generally I don’t make a habit of returning to races. I’ve only done so for certain reasons: to revisit the site of my first race or to help support other walkers. There are far too many races out there and new places to explore via their courses to want to repeat any.

But this weekend marks my second trip to the OBX race, and it’s in honor of a friend. About a year ago, I wrote about Lana, how her determination helped her tackle a race course and how she motivated so many people.

When our group gathered in NC in 2012 to do the race together the first time, North Carolina native Lana signed up too, doing the 8K. I spent some time with her on the course (the two routes merged at one point). I remember feeling happy to spot her ahead of me and know that I’d be able to cheer her on — and get energy from her as well.

After Lana died late last year, our group decided to return to the race this fall and participate in her honor. That purpose is definitely worth a repeat trip to a race, in my book. We’ll celebrate Lana and remember her with love.

In the past few weeks, though, our mission has grown. Among those planning to join us were our dear friends J and G. To our heartbreak, G has recently and suddenly been diagnosed with a very serious illness, preventing the couple from joining us while they fight this medical battle.

Like Lana, both J and G are incredible sources of inspiration; two people more full of life and light you would be hard-pressed to find. I walked alongside them for most of the course in 2012, in fact (and have shared other race course with them, too).

So we will fondly remember Lana as we walk those 13.1 miles on Sunday. And now, we will send healing wishes and love to G (and J) with each step along the way, emphasizing our good hopes for them in every footfall and our wishes that they’ll be striding alongside us again soon.

Word to live by

My lovely friend Robynn recently posted a picture on Facebook. It was a post-workout selfie, and what she was wearing really caught my attention (and that of many of her friends).

I’ve seen a lot of inspirational sayings on T-shirts, but this one is so strong in its simplicity.

That night, I ordered one of the shirts for myself. I had to have it! Now, I just need the weather to cooperate so I can wear it. In the meantime, I’m keeping its encouraging words in mind as a mantra of sorts. Check out this terrific philosophy for yourself:

IMG_2553Robynn, the store should give you a commission. Thanks for being an inspiration! 🙂

Thanks, Lana

LanaIn 10 years of doing half marathons and marathons, I’ve met countless people and made many friends. Lana L. was one of them.

I got to know her when Team Prevention went to a race in Dallas in late 2008. I’m afraid I don’t remember if I met her before the event, but I definitely remember interacting with her during the race, when I was along the sidelines midway to cheer for our team. I walked a few blocks with her, making sure she was OK, and she was. I saw her again at the finish line — boy, was she glad to finish! — and helped her celebrate.

We saw each other again a few months later when she did a half marathon with our team in Myrtle Beach, SC. She improved her finish time by about 15 minutes!

And then she was among the group for our final event, in Las Vegas in late 2009. I remember sitting at dinner with her and catching up. Her finish time in that race was 55 minutes BETTER than her race in Dallas a year earlier.

Lana (left) and Pam at a 5K in 2013

Lana (left) and Pam at a 5K in 2013

I didn’t see her again until fall 2012, when a group of friends got together in the Outer Banks for a race and a visit. I was so pumped to see her along the joint half marathon-8K course. It put a spring in my step to share some of the distance with her.

As a race team coordinator and participant, I’ve seen half and full marathoners of every shape and size and ability. To look at Lana, it would be easy to assume that she could not complete even 1 mile, let alone 13.1 — and improve her finish time from 4:40 to 3:45, to boot.

But they didn’t know Lana. Determination was her middle name. That’s not to say she didn’t do some lighthearted whining when the race was done, about her sore feet or other body parts. But damn if she didn’t have her mind set on completing what she set out to do and cross that finish line.

Her determination was so motivating and inspiring. She was full of spirit and energy, and she brightened up any gathering. She had such presence and shared her spirit and energy with those she encountered.

So it’s with a heavy heart that I have to say that Lana lost her battle with some medical issues this week. I can only hope that she’ll hear her walking friends call on her when they hit a wall in a race and that she’ll send a burst of energy our way to make it the final stretch to the finish line. One could find no better source of inspiration.


It goes both ways

Today I was having quite a case of the Mondays. Didn’t sleep well at all last night, found myself easily annoyed most of the day, and had very little desire to apply myself to my to-do list at work.

And Monday evenings are when I teach an hour-long walking class. Tonight was the fifth week, and it was the first time I felt myself sort of wishing I could just go straight home from work, rather than hold class. Plus, there was a threat of thunderstorms, and although we’ve held our walking class indoors once before, I thought that might be a deterrent to attendance.

But then an awesome thing happened.

I got to the classroom, started setting up, started greeting members as they came in — and started feeling a boost in my mood. Not only was the weather not a deterrent but it was the biggest class attendance to date!

As we got underway, everyone seemed to be in a great mood and having fun. I found myself making a few light jokes and getting into the groove of teaching the class. I’d grumbled to myself earlier about how having to hold class indoors would likely cause the hour to drag by, but on the contrary it went faster than I expected.

At the end, to my surprise, there was even a smattering of “great class” applause.

I don’t say the last sentence or any of this to pat myself on the back. Instead, I relate this story as an illustration of how the class can inspire and motivate the teacher. How exercise can brighten your mood, whether you’re in the back row trying to follow along or up front leading the way.

So tonight… thanks to my class for sweeping away my case of the Mondays.

Cheer, illustrated / Photo by Chris M. Junior

Cheer, illustrated / Photo by Chris M. Junior