In 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.
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.