I’ve posted about #Run3rd before. I normally keep the babies taken too soon close to my heart for races, and this past Saturday’s 8k was no different. That is, until I was less than a mile in to my race.
The race was run through a very small college town. We ran through the streets of town, through neighborhoods and by houses. Many people came out to watch us race by and cheer us on, it was great. There was someone who stuck out to me, someone that really touched me and motivated me. I don’t know her name. We started up a tree lined street, and I saw her, there on the side of the road, watching runners with another child and her parents. She looked to be about the same age as my oldest son, 8 years old. She was in a pretty pink wheelchair, not a regular wheelchair, but one of the custom ones for a child who is in the chair permanently. Her legs were skinny and slightly bowed, a sign that they saw no use. She was on the right side of the road, I was closer to the left side when I saw her. I was moving faster than I normally was and seeing as I hadn’t had a real run since my half marathon nearly 3 weeks before, I was feeling it. I choked up almost immediately upon seeing her, and I began to check behind me to make sure I wouldn’t get in anyone’s way as I made my way to the right side of the street. I got very close to her and slowed my pace, and stuck out my hand for a high five. She smiled and extended her hand, as did the little girl watching with her. Now normally I’m a bit of a germaphobe and don’t high five people often when I’m racing. Usually I will high five police officers as I go by, because I very much respect them and their line of work. But this time was different, and she was delighted to have the attention of a runner.
I sped away with tears in my eyes. This little girl is a reminder of the gift I have been given, the simple gift of the use of my legs and the ability to run. I picked up my pace, continued to push on, finished my race in great time, and all because I was running 3rd for a little girl that would never have the chance.
This is motivation. There are days when we feel tired, when life has gotten in the way, when the routine of work, kids, family, mundane day to day life and stress clouds our head, and we just don’t feel like getting out there for a run. Think of all of the people who simply can’t do that, even if they wanted to. It really puts things in to perspective, and it makes it much harder to take our gift of running for granted.