As I ran up the iconic route to the finish line my legs felt like jelly and my body wanted to stop. The flags from all the diverse nations waved in the rain and the crowds yelled that we were almost there. My brain said to move faster but my legs wouldn’t listen. I knew that I had people waiting for me in the stands and although I looked for them I was happily alone in this moment. As I approached the finish line my emotions rejoiced in the end but it wasn’t really the end was it? Like many of the people I spent the last 10 weeks sweating with, growing with, and loving with, my journey started at the end. Many times in life we can’t see past what we are losing but when we are able to let the dust settle, we truly are awakened to see what’s been right in front of us all along.
This journey for me started at the end of a life I had grown to love. I was just letting go of a relationship that on paper was perfect but I knew was holding me back, I had to move on from a job that I was clinging to, and I had to say goodbye to an identity that was never really mine. It’s not easy waking up one day and realizing that you don’t truly know who you are anymore. It felt like the end and how was I supposed to get past that?
I heard stories of love lost, abilities lost, independence lost, family and friends lost. I heard near death experiences and living lives that were slowly killing. How can someone go from lying in a hospital bed clinging to life and wake up the next day ready to live? That was the difference about these stories, they weren’t told with the expectation of getting to an ending, but rather the opposite. The ending was just the preface to the real story. They were not expressed as a reason to mourn but rather a chance to celebrate and inspire to take one more breath, more more step, one more jump forward into the life in front of all of us.
At the beginning of every race I spend the first half asking the question, “Why do I run?”. No I don’t ask it in that sarcastic “why am I doing this to myself?” way but in a way that reminds me how far I have come. I think about my first race and how running one mile landed me in the hospital. You see I was never naturally talented and no my body wasn’t built to run the amount of miles I have put on these knees. I think about the children in hospitals and my friends and family who have been so very sick. I think about my family and parents who didn’t think they could live a healthy lifestyle and my mom who has proven that even at 57 she can just start racing 5ks. I think about all the people who were dealt a bad hand at birth and would give anything to have the chance to not only run one more step but just walk one step and the people who are slowly killing themselves in situations they think they have no control over. I think about how close I was to throwing away my health and feel every bit appreciative that I have the chance and strength to put my body through this pain willingly. I then think about how far I have come and how many more step I have to take. But this time was different, New York was different. I had a new group of people to think about, to dedicate the miles to. My teammates who inspire me everyday to just find the best me in that moment. The people who are living life starting at the end. You see at the beginning, well most things just seem impossible, too far away to ever catch. However at the end, although there is struggle to overcome, you have already proven that you are strong enough to get past the hard part. Sometimes when the dust settles we see the beginnings that we never noticed before and sometimes we need someone or a group of people to to clear the path.
10 weeks before I crossed that finish line, started off as the end for me. It’s funny how one email can change the way you look at things. I thought NYC was going to be my redemption, my way back to who I was. NYC was actually the beginning to who I am becoming. Sometimes the most beautiful things come from the scariest points in our lives and as I more deeply become intertwined with the people I now call family, I can not deny that the race is just the warm up to what is about to come next and the finish line is anything but the end.
This is dedicated to my entire TeamULTRA family. Thanks for letting me grow, sweat, and love with you all. Here is to many more races that lead to the real journey!