It was hard to do, but I did it! When I sat down to write out my goals for 2008, I never imagined I would find myself actually wanting to go downtown and be around a whole bunch of people walking in the rain. I started my walking program to help me lose weight. This has been particularly frustrating since it isn't happening the way I would like (but that is for another blog). When Maura mentioned walking the 5K at the Flying Pig Marathon, I thought, "ok, I can do this."
I worked really hard in January and February to get my walking distance up to 4 miles at time. In March I started having some health issues so cut back a bit and I completely stopped in April. I was very frustrated and wasn't even sure I would be able to do the 5K even up to last week. On Tuesday I made the decision that I had set this goal and I was going to do it even though I had not walked in over a month. I put in my slow walking DVD and managed to do 2 miles before I quit. I did ok so figured I would just go for it.
Friday at the Health Expo was a total blast. Maura and I checked in and picked up our posters, T-shirts and other goodies. We walked around and I just took in the atmosphere. At this point, I have to interject that I usually avoid crowds, events and the like so this was highly out of character for me. Maura was so knowledgeable about things and I loved her enthusiasm. It really lit my fire and made me eager for the events of the next day.
I hardly slept at all Friday night. We got up at 5am and were out to door by 6 to pick up Maura. We got downtown and parked in a great spot--I have to say here that this was my real fear--where to park so that Eric didn't have to do a ton of walking. I prayed that things would go well and they did. Shane told us exactly how to get where we wanted to be and we parked about as close to the action as you could get. Once we were there, I was more relaxed.
It was wet and drizzly when Maura started, but I really enjoyed cheering her on as she left. She inspired me so much and I was extremely proud of how well she finished. It was a highlight of my day to stand there at the "finish swine" and clap as she crossed. She totally rocks! It was fun to see all the cool stuff they had for the racers once they finished and it made me excited for my turn.
We went back to the car and hung out for a while. We ate snacks and watched the people walking by on the sidewalk. We could see that the rain was starting again--so much for the weather forecast that said the rain would be over by 9am! Silly weathermen!!! When it came time for my race, it was pouring down rain. I was really excited despite the wet conditions. The thing that impressed me the most was the participants...there were all kinds of people: young, old, skinny, not so skinny, people in wheelchairs and some were even blind. When Maura initially mentioned I should do this walk, she told me about all the different people who participated. Seeing it for myself, just drove home the point that everyone can participate if they want.
I started off strong and confident, the first mile was easy. Maura was talking to me and coaching me the whole way and I was so thankful. I could have done it alone, but she wanted to be there with me. Her encouragement helped me get through some really rough spots where I would have been tempted to quit. Before we got to the 2nd mile marker, I could feel the blisters starting to form on my feet because my socks were so wet. There was a point where the course was not marked well and we--like many others, because we were following the crowd (also a lesson for another blog) went the wrong way. We had to backtrack so that we could get back on course. We could see the finish line, but still had about half the course to run so we joked about going across, but decided we did not want to cheat ourselves from having the full experience. On we walked.
When I was nearing the "Finish Swine" Maura broke off from me and ran ahead to meet up with Eric. I was left to walk the last part on my own. It was at this point that I had two profound thoughts which brought tears to my eyes. The first was that I was actually going to accomplish my goal which made all the work and sacrifice worth the effort. The second thought was about the Savior when He atoned for our sins. When the suffering got difficult, an angel was sent to strengthen him, however, there was a point where he had to finish the task alone...and he did. Maura was the angel that strengthened me. She stayed with me until it was time for me to finish the race on my own.
This experience has changed my life forever. I am now really excited about walking and running other marathons. I have set a goal to run the 10K next year and I also want to walk the 5K with my sweetheart, Eric. My heart is full today as I contemplate the numerous blessings the Lord has bestowed upon me. Maura, you are the best. You were sent to me at a time when I really needed you.Thank you for your support and encouragement. To those of you reading this (since you have persevered to the end of this rather long posting) this is an open invitation to join us next year. We would love to share a walk/run with you.