For the past 14 weeks I have been training 15 Tech High School kids to run the 500 Festival Mini Marathon. It has been a little exhausting, but very much worth it. On race day, as one of the kids, Amber was on mile 10, she mentioned she was planning on also doing the Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon in September. Then her friend on the team, who also happens to be named Amber chimed in and said she was going to do it too. OK- of the fifteen kids that trained for this race and completed it, two of them are saying they want to do it again…. and not only are they saying that, but they are saying that at mile TEN nonetheless.
I stayed with Sierra, Liza, Courtney, and the Amber’s for most of the race. Although we’ve been practicing for quite some time- I have never seen this group work so hard. They were all determined to finish and had really great attitudes the whole time. I really felt honored to be able to experience this race with these girls.
Once the group I ran with finished, I made my way backwards on the course to find the rest of the group. There were four in front of us, but the rest were behind us. Ideally I would love to run with everyone, but there is the obvious fact that you can only be in one place at a time. Part of me wanted to run back and forth between groups, but I felt that would prevent me from having quality time with any of them. So, as I headed back to cheer the rest of the team on in for their last mile or two, everything in me wanted to stay with each and every one of them to the finish, but I knew I was heading straight back to Tyla. Tyla has worked so hard during this training and this girl was determined to finish her race. I found her at mile twelve. She was with one of our amazing volunteer pace leaders (Carol Franz… you rock!) who had stayed with her the entire race and encouraged her. She had also picked up another lady, who was from Utah and had already finished the race. Tyla’s new friend had made her way to the back looking for a friend. When this woman couldn’t find her friend, she made it her goal to get these last struggling runners and walkers to the finish line. What a woman. She knew Tyla by name and together we all finished that last mile with her. I think everyone can learn a little bit from the lady from Utah.
Two weeks prior to the race, we completed our longest run which as 10 miles. At the end of that practice, Tyla busted into the classroom completley emotional, but and worn out with tears streaming down her face. At this point, I knew I had to see her and be with her when she crossed the finish line on race day. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Tears of happiness and exhaustion came over her face and once again, I was reassured that this program had a positive impact on the life of a kid that really needed it. No matter how you train, who you train with, how fast, or how slow you run or walk- YOU are the person who got yourself to the finish line. Nobody else can put in the work for you, and that is something you can own and truly be proud of. The fact of the matter is that, while Tyla may have been one of the last individuals to cross that finish line- she did it, and I know she is proud of herself- one step at a time her confidence has improved and I am thankful for that.
A lesson I have been learning through this whole process is- the race isn’t always about YOU- the race can be about you sometimes- but incorporating others into your racing journey makes it so much more worth it. Of course- I love having new PRs and improving myself, but there is nothing better than being with someone when they have that same moment of pride you had when you crossed the finish line of a new distance for the first time. At the end of the day, if just one of the kids or seniors who participated in this journey decides to regularly incorporate these kind of activities in their lives, then mission accomplished. We did what we set out to do.
One more mention on about Race Day- Thank you to the United Hope Foundation for our awesome Team Legacy shirts! Not only were they bright, which made it easy to spot one another in the race- they were super cute!
As one might imagine, there is a lot of cost and support that goes into putting on a program such as this. From M&I Bank paying for the entry fees to all of the individuals who stepped up to purchase new running shoes for the kids- we are sincerely grateful. We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to each and every supporter of this team. You all were just as much a part of the team as the next- and because of you, a positive impact has been made in the lives of individuals who needed just that.
And let’s not forget the Seniors from JHBCC who completed the 5K! Some of these ladies are in their eighties folks! Two years ago a handful of this crew walked the entire 13.1. You can read a little bit about my reflections on doing these walks with the seniors here.
M&I Bank, INHP, United Hope Foundation, The Runners Forum, 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee, John H. Boner Community Center, Arsenal Tech, Ernst & Young, Northview Church, Mass Ave. Pub, Steer In, Office Max, Kroger, Sam’s Club, Spades Park Library, Riley Area Developement Corporation, Kimball Lloyd-Jones, Kitti & Tom Drake, Lori Andersen, Carol Franz, Patricia Griffin, Lance Ratliff, Moria Carlstedt, St. Patrick’s Day Party Donator’s, Liell Lloyd-Hostetter, Cairo, Melissa Deer, Joan Morris, Kathy Helman, Leslie Wright, Susan Voght, Connie and Greg Server