Saturday was a rough day. But when I really think about it, the months leading up to Saturday made it seem par for the course.
I had been training for the Country Music Marathon/Half Marathon since November. I started out training for the full marathon- hoping to improve on last year's time- but stomach issues kept me from getting a single good workout. So I switched to the half marathon training program.
At that point, my life became infinitely more busy, and the added stress didn't make my stomach settle any easier. There was the fundraising, which, while I tried to maintain a positive attitude that everything would come together [which it did], I was still in panic mode for several months. And the stress of my everyday [read: spastic] life simply left me nothing short of scatter-brained.
So Friday night came around, and I raced over to the convention center to pick up my packet just before the expo shut down. I left with my t-shirt, swag bag full of coupons and... oh wait. Completely forgot my Team In Training jersey. Fail.
Saturday morning, I got up at 5 a.m. I had slept in my shorts, so I was already halfway ready. I threw on my sports bra, last year's TNT jersey, socks and shoes. I mapped my route to the stadium and grabbed some peanut butter toast, a glass of water, my keys, phone and wallet before I walked out the door.
I got to the stadium at 6:45 a.m. and was welcomed by an insanely long line of cars. So, I did what any other Nashville driver would do and I cut someone off and snagged a place in the line. It was at that moment, heart racing- still not sure if it was nerves because of the race or because I just royally pissed off someone in a car that could run over mine and flatten it like a pancake- that I looked down and realized that something was missing, something important... my race bib. Epic fail.
So I pulled another trick out of the Nashville driving handbook and made a U-turn in the middle of the road. I got back to my apartment in record time, grabbed my number, made a quick panic-stricken phone call and raced right back out the door.
Before I got back to stadium I was assured that there was one more shuttle bus still running. AWESOME! But then I got to the stadium only to find out that the bus had broken down. Awesome.
After asking several police officers and a few strangers about the road closures, I quickly found that my efforts were useless. I just wasn't supposed to be in the race this year.
So, as I was wallowing in defeat, I drove over to the finish line to see my mom, who was working to keep traffic out of the way of the runners. She and the other people working with her reassured me that it was ok, there's always next year. And I knew that. But I still felt sad as I cheered on the first person to cross the finish line.
That feeling quickly went away when I saw a gentleman walk by, carrying a Team In Training [TNT] poster. I went up to him, introduced myself and showed off my purple jersey [even though it was so last year]. He told me that his daughter was running the half marathon and had trained with TNT. He went on and on about how great he thought the organization was, and how wonderful the participants were. I told him that I wholeheartedly agreed, and that I had made some great friends in the two years that I've been doing this.
At this point, I was just happy to hear that someone else was having such a positive experience with running and TNT, but I was completely unprepared for what he said next.
He told me how heartwarming it was to see so many purple jerseys on the course, so many people running because they wanted to help find a cure. He told me he has leukemia, and he knows the pain and torture it brings to not only himself, but his family, too. But because the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society found a medication called Gleevec, that man is enjoying a practically full life. He told me that had it not been for that drug, he wouldn't be here today.
I fought back tears as I realized what Saturday was really about for me. It wasn't about running. It wasn't about the months of training [or not-so-much-training]. It wasn't about trying to figure out why God didn't want me out on the course. It was about saving lives.
So, in the end, the marathon was still a success for me, even though I didn't run a single step.