running and sisterhood

After dropping my tiny off in the care of the YMCA nursery I headed out for yet another training run. As usual my body needed a talkin’ to for motivation in the very first mile.

“This is gonna hurt. So you’d better get used to it. It could take all you’ve got so you might as well get a reward from the struggle. Remember why you’re doing this. In a few weeks you’re gonna cross that finish line in step with your best friend, your little sister, raising your hand in hers, celebrating victory. That is the moment you will hold close to heart when she is no longer close at hand. Moving . . . that’s coming up . . . soon.”

Every. single. run. I had to go though this thought process. Keeping the goal in mind. Purposing to push through when it got tough. Telling my body what it was going to do, instead of doing what it told me to do. And most importantly, training my mind to focus on the current mile, resisting the urge to mentally calculate the probability of making it to my goal that day.

The pep talk was pretty routine, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how I would react that day. It was my first run after Match Day, and moving was becoming more and more a reality. Tears started falling, my breathing quickened as my throat tightened with emotion. Pretty soon I was pumping my legs down the street faster and faster, bawling my eyes out, hyperventilating hysterically because of lack of oxygen. Have you ever tried crying while running? You can barely see where you’re going and you’re too out of breath to get there. You have to be very talented to pull it off. Very talented indeed.

I passed a woman standing in her front lawn and just briefly caught her expression of deep concern and perplexity. Only briefly though, because I was too embarrassed to make full eye contact. I was relieved to be out of view once I had passed, but was slightly concerned that she might jump in her car and follow me. “She looked horrified and probably believes I’m dying”, I remember thinking to myself.

Yet, not only did I keep running and collect my senses, but I ran further that day than ever before.

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You see, what mainly fueled my running wasn’t a desire to be healthy {sad, I know}, fast, trendy, fit, or accomplished. The allure of the finish line wasn’t the crowd cheering {there would only be 5 people left standing there by the time I finished anyway}, the specialty coffee mugs given to finishers {yeah right, I don’t even like coffee}, or the time on the clock as I passed under the banner {I forgot to look}. The finish line was a beautiful sight only because my sister was there, by my side, holding my hand, whooping and hollering like an idiot just like me.

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Beth is my twin sister, just delayed by 10 years. Poor girl kinda looks like me, talks like me, thinks like me, is built like me, struggles like me, and laughs like me. Thankfully for her, she does it all 10 times better than me.

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She got into cross-country last year, and I got off my couch and decided I was gonna be like her when I grew up. It was slow going, but I was determined to run a race with that girl before moving away. We settled on the Greer Earth Day Half Marathon. April 20th, 2013. It was gonna be my first race {her first half marathon} . . . ever. No 10ks, no 5ks, no nothing on my record. It honestly made me a bit nervous.

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Every Saturday we met to run, our first time starting off with 4.7 miles. Those weekends were so sweet. We didn’t rush through the runs with a particular pace in mind. Our goal was not speed, it was sisterhood. We chatted, laughed, motivated one another, and prayed for one another.

The whole concept of the half marathon was just a clever ruse to sneak in extra time with her. I freely admit that now that my plan is complete.

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The day of the run was actually quite cold to start off with. We shivered and stretched and shivered some more. I doubt the stretching made much of a difference because by the time the race started, our muscles were cold again.

We ran side-by-side the whole way. Our goals were to not stop running, to finish, and to simply enjoy ourselves.

There was no music playing as we ran except the song of sister conversation.

Mile 1-8 passed pretty quickly. 9 seemed to be a long time in coming. I’m almost certain they misplaced 10. And by mile 11 I was hurtin’. 12 and 13 were uncharted territory as we hadn’t ever run farther than 11. Beth was strong and pushed me through it. She made me laugh coming up the last big hill, and I almost fell over.

With what little energy we had left we took off on a strong sprint to the finish in the last few tenths of a mile and were greeted by my tiny holding her green balloon in one hand and pointing us to the finish line with the other.

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And then the moment we had been working towards for so many weeks finally did come, the vision did become reality, our goal was reached: side-by-side finishers, clasping hands, shouting victory, hearts knit together through struggle and reward.

And it will always be ours.

I love you dear sister, my friend. I’m so proud of you! Thank you for this gift.

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2 comments

  1. […] I could take a cool evening run last night. I’m embarrassed to say it was the first run since my half marathon 3 weeks ago! I honestly was all run out and just wanted a break from it all. It felt so good to […]

  2. […] run. I have felt a distinct weakness in my body since I’ve tapered off from running after my half marathon a month ago, and it was time to get out there again. Dr. Hubs drove into downtown for the […]

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