I decided to do the race after I had been working at the UCF for a little over 3 months. It was the start of 2010 and one of my resolutions. I embarked on the journey without enthusiasm. I felt a certain obligation to sign up for a race because I am working at an organization with a brilliant athletic fundraising and training team, and it is also a step in the right direction to taking better care of myself.
Running is not my forte. I dredged my feet through the “Couch to 5k” training program starting with 1 minute running intervals. Gradually, by mid-March I had increased my stamina and was running for 30 minutes straight. I didn’t enjoy the process; each thud of my foot held the thoughts: “ow”, “I want to stop”, “how many more minutes”, “it wouldn’t be so bad to cut my jog short today...”. Yet at the conclusion of each run the feeling of pride (and soreness of using new muscles) was enough to motivate me to hop back on the treadmill or track for the next workout.
On Saturday March 20th I arrived at RFK stadium with my relay team members, Lindsay and Carrie. I was nervous. A trembling, heart racing type of nervousness that left me unable to eat my breakfast and made me hesitant I would be able to run without tripping.
Sarah (me), Carrie and Lindsay at 6:30am. GOOD MORNING!
In 2002 Carrie ran the National Marathon in memory of my sister, Honor Elizabeth. As the three of us met the other Team Fight members who would be running Carrie prepped me on what I could expect from the course. At the start line there was music and a buzzing, growing energy that was palpable. People were clapping and dancing as the sun was rising. We watched Lindsay, our first leg, take off and I knew it was time to put aside my fears. I was here, I was going to finish and I was going to try to enjoy it.
Two days before the race I met Amber. With Amber in my mind and my sister in my heart, I got myself to the second relay exchange point. Then I just had to wait. The exchange point was at the top of a hill. I was able to look down (while trying to bounce out my nerves and stretch on the curb) to see the yellow Team Fight shirts as dots in the distance. The first group of Team Fighters passed and I cheered for them.
Brock and Katrina at mile 10 of their half marathon and my relay exchange point.
It was fantastic. Everyone there wants you to succeed! People were shouting sentiments of encouragement and clapping. The positivity I felt that day I have rarely seen at other sporting events. Finally, I spotted a yellow shirt and gray pants coming toward me and I knew I had to get in the zone. Carrie and I kissed on the check (no scrunchie\baton pass off for Team Slow and Steady) and I was off.
Because I tend to look down while I run (bad habit) compounded by my nerves, I didn’t have a clue where I was in the course. I missed every mile marker! There was a point where I started to get tired. REALLY tired. I didn’t want to walk, but the shin splints were there and they were real! This happened to be the time I was running parallel to the full marathoner's mile 13. All the sudden I see Team Fight members Katrina, then Danny, then Mike! It was so exciting to watch my friends and UCF supporters cheer me on I remembered the people I was running for. I remembered how unbelievably strong these people are and were. I pulled from their strength. I kept running.
Crossing the finish line that Saturday morning I felt a something melt. This layer of “I can’t” and “I’m scared” disappeared into, “I DID!”. I am very happy to have finished 3.1 miles in 31 minutes and 36 seconds!
Running the race wasn’t easy for me, but I found the time set aside with just my thoughts to be very rewarding.
Almost all of the Team Fight crew after their respective runs.
Since the race I sent out a request to our supporters for help with Amber. I am so grateful for the people who contacted me. Not only were the donations generous, the correspondences were also a true pleasure.
I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Amber at hospice (temporarily inpatient due to an infection) two weeks ago. We surprised her with a visit from Mimi’s favorite TV character, Dora the Explorer. If I thought I felt connected to Amber before this day, I was irreversibly changed watching her interact with her daughter. The dynamic between Richard, Mimi and Amber is absolutely delightful. Amber spoke Spanish to Mimi as her shock turned into joy when the giant television character materialized in her mother’s hospital room! The purpose of the visit was to bring Amber's family gifts, however I feel I was given a gift to be able to share some of what is left of Amber's time.
Richard, Mimi and Dora!
Dora, Amber, Mimi and Richard.
Mimi showered in love!