On February 22, 2012, I received an email from an esteemed young woman whose blog I had been following religiously. I first found her page on Sparkpeople, then after realizing that I could completely and utterly relate with her, I found myself hooked to her blog. I considered her to be a normal woman set about on a task that would change her life for the better and this was exactly what I had in plan for myself. I looked to her for inspiration many times throughout my journey. Katie and I were not keeping up a steady flow of communication or anything, but I was following her blog and she was following mine, so she knew my story, as well. The email Katie sent me was to invite me to join a team of 12 people whom had lost large amounts of weight and became runners along the way to participate in the Florida Keys Ragnar Relay Race in January of 2013. I have no doubt in my mind that email was the starting point of a series of events that will change my life; that will change me.
I was floored. Me, join SlimKatie (Sparkpeople name) from Runsforcookies and people whom she and the designated team captain deemed worthy to run 198.5 miles from Miami to Key West? Katie was practically a celebrity, she had even been on the Dr. Oz show! And she considered me a good addition to her team! I honestly don't know if I've ever felt so honored. Of course, the pragmatic Lealah had to really think this through. A trip like this would definitely not be cheap and I had to do some serious number crunching to decide whether this could be budgeted, so I told Katie I would think about it and get back to her. Can you believe it took me a week to finally email her back and tell her yes, I would join the team and be happy to run with them? I mean really, how often does an opportunity like that come knocking on your door? I honestly do not know what in the hell I was "thinking about". For this kind of trip, this kind of experience, you do not "see if you can afford it"; you find a way to afford it, and by golly I was going to do this. We've changed our plans a bit, and decided to just fly into Miami, the Ragnar Relay will be enough of a vacation without the stops on the way and honestly I think I will be fairly nervous the days prior to the race and I doubt I will be able to think of anything else. Here's a taste of what is to come:
I really like this video, too, particularly the song at the end of the video:
At this stage in my sentiments, I think I have moved a bit beyond the "super excited and stoked" phase and it's gotten a bit deeper for me. I have reached the "my gosh, I'm really going to do this" stage. I have been running for less than a year, I have gone from couch potato to Zumba Enthusiast to long distance runner in two years. I'm an athlete. I have overcome crazy obstacles, several injuries and I'm still pushing on. I think being invited to join this team of amazing people has been a huge stepping stone to help me realize that I'm a success story. I used to browse the success stories on Sparkpeople, thinking "that's going to be me one of these days", and I think I've reached that point. Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely still a work in progress and will never stop trying to better myself. In fact, that brings me to why I love the song at the end of the previous video above. "You could do better, you could do better, you could be the greatest man in the world." Exactly. Period. The End. Of course, I prefer to think "woman", but it just does not have the same ring to it, so I'll give them that. ;)
We had our first team conference call on Sunday and we got to hear everyone's voice and "meet" for the first time. It was pretty cool to put a voice with a face (or internet persona) and our team captain put on a great meeting! It was so coordinated and I feel that we really covered a lot of ground. After the meeting I was even more excited about the race, if that is even possible. I cannot wait to do this! I will say that I'm glad it's so far in advance so I can train and also give my knees time to repair. But I plan to be fully trained up for this, I want to be able to fully enjoy the entire event and not have to worry about whether or not I "can" do this or how my body will handle it. I want to focus on camaraderie and enjoying the adventure and not worry about injuries or the fact that I haven't trained enough so "how will I ever get through this?". I already know I can do this, it's just a matter of how much I'm going to allow myself to enjoy it and what can I take from this experience and how will I enhance my life from being a part of such an amazing group. No, this venture is one of friendship, fellowship, self-discovery and flat out FUN!
The best part of doing this is that I'm doing it with people that really understand what this race means to me. It may be a little different for each of us, but I know that there is a sense of unity among us that not everyone would be able to fully appreciate. Runners in general have a sense of camaraderie, but to come from where we have and to know what it was like before.... when "anyone can run" was a myth (a laughable one at that) and "anyone can lose weight, be active and healthy" was beyond our scope of vision... well there's a sense of pride and fellowship there that no one can touch. Here is a list of the amazing group of people with which I will be running the Florida Keys Ragnar Relay Race of 2013, with links for the people that have blogs.
Rik (our team captain)
So there you go, this is one of my biggest endeavors in the near future and I will continue to provide updates as time goes by. This may prove to be my biggest adventure yet!