Aide

Four years ago today I ran what would be my last marathon. I did not know that at the time but I had an idea….I was tired. Training is difficult, time consuming and takes a toll on the body.
I just could not sit on the sidelines. The FOMO was real and I needed to be out there on Marathon day….so what is a girl to do? VOLUNTEER!
Two years ago my friend Khit asked for help with her aide station and jumped at the chance. I was put in charge of Gatotrade. Now, to some that would not be a big deal, but to me it was huge. I was in change of a battalion of volunteers that mix, pour and serve Gatorade to runners. Mixing it correctly is important…too weak and runners do not get enough nourishment. Too strong and runners get sick. Prepping table to serve it all is a big deal as well. Layers of cups are filled and often blow off the tables.
The day is long and starts early. I was up and ready to go by 4:30am, finishing about 12:30/1pm. And yes….wearing the tutu!
In between all that time, we are serving and cheering runners. Our aide station is about mile 12. Today it was unusually busy, even though the number of runners was lower than in past years. Why? Medical tent. Today was hot and humid. The conditions went from yellow to red as the day progressed and that progression was evident in the faces and bodies of runners.
Spotting hurting runners and keeping spectators off the course as well as out of the medical area was a full time job today. I mean….people do not like to be told no and feel a bit entitled sometimes. I was called a bitch 39 times. I was shooting for an even 40 but….it is a dream deferred! Like the Cub fan I am…there is always next year!
I was cheering runners all morning. The elite runners are a site to behold but the wheelchair athletes, endurance athletes, and those with special needs? Those folks are my inspiration!
“You got this!”
“Today is your Day!”
“You are going to finish and get a medal today!”
“You look so strong and amazing!”
I shouted and high fived runners as they passed for hours. Eventually a spectator called me over to the side. She looked at her young son and said, “tell her what you just said…” The teacher in my thinks she is trying to teach a lesson…..and yes, she was.
“I said that you are really inspirational. If I were running this, you would make me feel so good.”
I stood, stunned for a minute and replied, “These runners are MY inspiration. I know what is takes to train for and run a marathon. It is not easy and someday WHEN you run the marathon, I will be right her to cheer you on!”
He smiled and so did I….and then I was back to cheering on the runners.
I saw 2 of my former students running (one of which cheered for me once before!). I saw my friend, the running priest! I saw so many friends who knew just where I would be. The two most important, my BRF (best running friend) and another running buddy of ours gave me tight long sweaty hugs that I will never forget. The transfer of energy was electric!
As the end drew near, there were still runners on the course….walking now but determined to finish. We started to break things down and clean up and the crowds thinned. I took a moment, standing in the middle of the street and took it all in…all that had been accomplished by not only the runners, but the volunteers as well.
The Chicago Marathon only happens because so many people work so hard in tandem with others to make it all possible. It is no small operation.
Once everything was picked up and packed up, it was time to say goodbye and head home. Another year in the books. My heart is so full.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Stories

I met a woman through a mutual friend. She said she was divorced as well and while we talked, I realized she was holding back. As her kids ran towards the water, I said “Tell me more.”
She said a few things and then looked at me sideways…..
“You get it! You understand…..I can just tell….. “
And then the real conversation began….
We as women need to own our truth and our story. When we do, we allow other women to do the same especially the women that surround us. Our story may not always be pretty but impression management has gotten a better of us. I know because I did it for years. We use social media to manage other people’s vision of us which has made it worse. While we are looking for the carefully curated photo and post, we have lost ourselves. We want others to believe our life is perfect, but that is not reality. That further widens the divide.  Other women feel they can not relate to our lives….when, in-fact, if we were more real, we would realize we have far more in common. 
The women that I love and relate most to are those that are imperfect. They own their story making them the bravest, most badass warriors in my eyes.  I may not know all the details of the story or those imperfections but I know that they struggle with all sorts of different issues. I know that their life is not all sunshine and rainbows, Again they may not share all the gritty details but I know they’ve been through some shit. I can relate to and admire that authenticity.  
We women need to own our story. Good, the bad and the ugly. We all have chapters that are short, some are shorter than others. We all have those long chapters we thought would never end. We have chapters that we only write in draft form and never share. We have some chapters, the details of which, have only been shared with those that are closest with us. All those chapters make up who we are as a human. 
There will always be those that want to tell our story for us.  Some that tell stories that are not theirs to tell and stories they do not understand. We can not stop them.  What we can do is fearlessly own our story and live our truth allowing our strength, truth, honesty and transparency to inspire others. 
Let’s stop worrying about what other people think. Those closest to us know the truth, appreciate our honesty and will love us unconditionally.  
 Peace,
#tutulady
#forwardisapace