Today I was given the opportunity to run a race as a coach. I have run with my Girls on the Run as a buddy but this time I was a coach for other runners. It was an opportunity I was going to make the most of …
My BRF (best running friend) and I headed down to the race early. She was chosen to lead the ‘back of the packers’ the 3:30’s. I know it sounds like an easy job but run/walking a race and keeping people moving forward is no easy task.
I headed to the GOTR tent to get my bib and meet the other Solemates. We headed to the start corrals together and soon the race began. I knew I was not going to get an “official’ time so I just had it in my head that this was my long training run for the week….boy was I wrong.
The first mile had me running up on a girl that was already walking. She looked at me as I asked if she was ok and said, “This is harder than I thought” I told her that she had a long way to go and she just needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other. We ran together a bit and soon she was off in front of me.

My Cousin and his wife

I just kept moving and grooving forward. I crossed the bridge at the Chicago River and as I crossed wacker, I looked up. I saw a man with a camera that looked familiar. I looked again as I got closer…it was my oldest cousin who I have not seen in about 4 years (maybe more!). They live out of state and there he was!  He called his wife over and you snapped a pic. Their oldest daughter was running the 1/2 and they were looking for her!  We hugged again and I was off and moving.

ABC& News Anchors

A few minutes later, I ran past the ABC7 tv studio and 2 reporters were out front. “Hey!  Can we take a picture with you?” “Sure” I replied. The female reporter looked at me and said, “Can I touch your tutu?” I laughed and we took our pictures and I took off again. As I continued running I noticed a young lasy all by herself on the side of the street with her shoe off…not a good sign. I slowed and asked if she was ok. She told me that her foot kept falling asleep. New laces and shoes that were too small were the problems I figured out after listening to her. We loosened her laces and started running together. She felt better as she was alone at the race and soon she was off ahead of me.
I ran for a while just handing out high fives and encouragement as I moved through the miles. At mile 5, one of the girls from my training group ran up next to me. We ran together for a while and chatted. We both realized that this was not going to be easy. It was humid and we were in it to finish. I lost her at the water but kept moving. She had told me where her husband and baby daughter were  going to be so I was on the lookout and soon I saw them. I told them she was right behind me….and soon, there she was…running right to her daughter!  It was so sweet to see them together and the boost she got from seeing them!
I left her and headed on forward to soon be joined by one of my fellow Solemates. We ran together and talked a little, getting to know each other but she was so much faster than me and I could not keep up so off she went.
I stopped to talk to a few girls that were starting to cramp and had not had enough sports drink. They made it to water and were determined to finish. I saw many struggling runners at miles 9-10. More and more people were beginning to walk.
At Mile 11 a man and woman came up beside me and we ran together for a bit. I told the man he was my hero and was so amazing. Why? He was pushing her wife in the wheelchair. She told me that she was a star runner until the recently she was diagnosed with a progressive form of MS. He was not a runner and started running to push her and allow her to continue her passion!  WOW!  And Boy was he Fast!  Soon he was in front of me and I was crying!
Coming off the Lakefront  path I got some water and as I looked up I saw a runner in front of me wobble and then fall down…out cold. First responders were there in seconds taking care of her but it was frightening.  As I headed up the final incline and towards the finish line the young woman in front of me tripped and fell on all 4’s. I came up next to her and asked if she was ok and she looked at me with tears, “I’m fine” she whimpered and blood spilled from her hands and knees. I took off my water bottle and got out a paper towel and washed her off. She told me she was tired and worried that she was supposed to call her mom when she finished. I told her, “Momma is right here….she sent me” She laughed and we started running together. She told me she would be sure that she and her mom would pray for me, her angel. Well, alrighty then!  I love prayers!
And here it was…the finish line!  I could see it! The last band was cranking and one of the guys came over and handed me the tambourine. I played and danced to “Happy” as I worked towards the finish.
And then I was passed by another young man pushing his girlfriend. She held a sign that said “stronger together” on one side and “I Love him” on the other. As they closed in on the finish line, He stopped and she got out of the chair. She was wearing a large leg brace but she stood up and used the arm of the chair for balance as she walked across the finish line with her man. Again, I was in tears.
A wonderful young man put a medal on my neck, I took a finisher photo and I headed towards the GOTR tent. I was a mess of emotion.
When I reached the tent, I saw out Solemates coordinator and thanked her for the amazing experience. It was amazing!
I didn’t get an official chip time. I didn’t get a PR. But I got so much more than a medal. I got to help others. I got to encourage others. I got to give back and spread the message of GOTR. I got so much more than a race time. A funny thing happens when I stop caring about time…I find the pace of my heart. Peace.

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