Runners are goal-oriented planners. When we’ve paid the race fee, we’re committed to an event, so short-term training helps measure progress and work towards the goals accountability. It’s empowering to set your heart and mind towards a goal and then go out and make it happen.
Often, runners plan an entire year of racing, breaking the events down into smaller training cycles that lead up to a major event such as a marathon. Occasionally, despite all the preparation and planning, things don’t go as envisioned and we find ourselves spending time on the “pain train.”
2018 went according to “Plan A” until Mother’s Day and then quickly shifted towards “Plan B.” Mid-June everything changed once more, this time to “Plan C.”
Everyone knows injury is difficult, but for committed runners who pay race fees a long time in advance and spend many months training, injuries are especially challenging. Some events offer a transfer or deferment option up until a few weeks before the race and some events are “use it or lose it.”
With “Plan C” now happening, the Heber Half Marathon Run for Autism became the Heber 5k. A dear friend has a child with Autism and many other difficult health challenges. Jared Call was born premature almost 13-years ago with clubbed feet, hearing impairment, developmental delays, and severe kidney disease that required a transplant at the age of 4.
Several years ago, Jared was also diagnosed with Autism. For the last 12 years, I’ve watched Jared and his family endure numerous medical difficulties and procedures that have demonstrated Jared’s indomitable strength and courage. I always planned to run this race for Jared, so despite being injured, I didn’t want to pass.
The night before the race, I googled power-walking a decided to go for it. Just because I couldn’t race or run a half-marathon, didn’t mean I couldn’t walk a fast 5k, because that’s what I normally do, show up and go fast. This event was different; it felt odd to show up so late for a race (normally it’s a 4 am bus for a half marathon- followed by waiting and visiting with friends till the race starts) I had time to kill, so I helped the volunteers with finish line prep.
At 10-minutes till race start, I headed over toward the starting line and made my way to the back of the pack; another new feeling. Race morning always feels like Christmas morning to me because I’m so excited to finally race. I’m never nervous or scared, just happy and ready to get going.
As the race began, I walked forward toward the starting line with others around me. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel awkward speed-walking and it was easy to resist the urge to just run, but anything new feels uncomfortable at first. I’m sure I looked as strange and uncoordinated as I felt, but I just kept moving forward as quickly as possible towards the finish line.
During the last mile of the race, I saw pictures and short summaries of children with Autism and other physical difficulties along the race course. Immediately, I finally realized how selfish and self-absorbed I was; acting like a total moron. As my running times have improved, so has my ability to quickly forget what really matters.
The ability to move independently at any speed is an amazing blessing. The ability to articulate and express my feelings to loved ones who care about me is another blessing. I seem to forget these simple truths so quickly.
I finished the 5k and waited for some running friends to finish their half too. Nearly everyone had a phenomenal race and I was happy for their personal victories.
That night as I laid in bed reflecting on my idiocy, I vowed at my next race to be gracious and grateful and act accordingly. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less…” CS Lewis