How did this come to be? Well, it just so happened that two very important purposes were represented in two different races on the same day. Luckily, those two different races were at two very different times of day, making it logistically possible for me (crazy as I am) to do both. The races were also in two very different locations (Richmond and DC). I am so fortunate to have a wonderfully supportive family who did what they needed to do this weekend to help me manage the logistics of this “twofer” day!
The first race was the Speak Up 5K in support of the CKG Memorial Foundation. (http://speakup5k.com/ckg-foundation/). Their mission: To fulfill Cameron’s dream and legacy by being a positive force that works to cultivate awareness and understanding of teenage depression and anxiety. Cameron Gallagher was a young woman who lost her life much too soon when she died from an unknown heart condition during a half marathon. She also struggled with teenage depression and anxiety. Given that this race was in support of depression awareness, I felt it was critical that I participate.
It was pouring rain on my way to the race. I was tempted to not even leave my hotel room given how dreary it was. My number one cheerleader husband, however, encouraged me to still go, to at least show up. They might cancel the race, but at least I will have made the effort. Well, sure enough, I show up to Byrd Park in Richmond, the clouds parted, and the sun shown through – it’s funny how those things happen, isn’t it? There was a great crowd, lots of positive energy flowing, and the rain had helped to cool things off a bit.
I attended this race alone. I didn’t know anyone there. There was no one there to cheer me on. There was no external motivation to push me forward. Sure, there were wonderful volunteers and a great crowd in attendance, but no one there just for me. At first, I was a little bummed I was by myself. But then, as I started the race, I realized, it was kind of fitting that I was alone for this race. Why? When the race started to get tough, it was up to me to dig deep and find the motivation to keep going, just like it’s up to me to dig deep every day and not let my depression get me down. Granted, in my everyday life, I do have so many amazing cheerleaders and supporters there by my side, but even then, it’s always still up to me. Ultimately, it’s MY choice to say I matter, to say today is important, to say “I got this”. So I found my experience at the Speak Up 5K tremendously symbolic and inspiring – I got this, I really do.
After a shower and quick respite at the hotel, it was time to head north on 95 to the Arlington Police, Fire and Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K Run. None of us will ever forgot Sept. 11, 2001, and so many of us were closely affected. My father was in the Pentagon that day, and the terrible darkness and fear that entered my mind when the Pentagon was hit still haunts me sometimes. By the grace of God, through all the crazy phone issues that day, Dad was able to get through to my mom at the same time I was on the phone with her, so we found out together that he was OK. We’ve all been changed by that dreadful day, but one thing’s for sure – for every bit of evil out there, there is still plenty of good, plenty of beauty, plenty of love, and that is worth fighting for, every day.
So, needless to say, the purpose behind this race was also very significant and meaningful. You can see why I had to do both races, right?? And did I mention this race course went around the Pentagon??? And, there were bag pipes??? And a marching band??? And giant American flags everywhere??? And tons of free beer afterward?? I could barely contain my warm and tingly “proud to be an American” feelings!! It really was an awesome race, a great way to celebrate and honor those we lost that day, those who helped people survive, those who continue to fight to keep our communities and our country safe. And, it felt great to run again, even after doing another race that morning! Surprisingly, no pain, good energy, perfect mentality.