“How we doin’?” I ask in one labored exhale as we pass the 3 mile flag.
“On pace… barely, but we can do it. Don’t let up,” she says optimistically and with far more lung capacity.
“I’m gonna die,” I huff, my vocabulary limited to phrases that can be completed in one breath.
“Starbucks, Rachel! We are less than a mile from Starbucks. And if we hurry, we won’t even have to wait in line!”
And just like that, I’m back in the race to secure my red bib for another year, fueled by visions of vanilla latte and the encouraging words of my dear friend Nicole – a fellow mom of three, career woman and superstar who finishes the Boston Marathon in 3:36 but doesn’t make me feel bad for exhausting myself in a four mile downhill run.
At that particular moment, Nicole was the one providing much needed inspiration, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned after four Trolley Runs it’s that there is inspiration to be found at every stage of the course.
•I found it on race morning where my friend Debbie (a lady who gives Wonder Woman a run for her money) stood out while pushing a jogging stroller. Her precious cargo – 10 year old daughter Cecilia, a graduate of CCVI – knows what few of her peers with Cerebral Palsy will ever experience: the thrill of sailing down Brookside Boulevard and rounding that curve into the Country Club Plaza with hundreds of people cheering her on.
•I found it around Mile 2 the year I decided to give my daughter, Kitty, her “first bib” by running with her in my 6-month pregnant belly. After a couple of miles of my ever expanding thighs chafing against each other and my human bowling ball reducing me to a virtual shuffle, I pondered throwing in the towel and just walking home. I had only been running for a few years, but I was a runner gosh darn it! I thrilled at the sight of my name at the top of the results for my age bracket. This was just embarrassing. At that exact moment, a woman several paces ahead of me stopped abruptly, pivoted and began a slow backwards jog… while leading the crowd in the “YMCA”. It was just what I needed to remind me that this is supposed to be fun, and to swallow my pride and keep going. I have to think that’s what also kept me from strangling my husband when he remarked on the walk home, “Did you know a guy in a sling passed you?”
•I’ve even found that inspiration at packet pick-up when my friend and fellow Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri volunteer Courtney managed to find the time to leave a personal note on my packet: “Go Rachel – Rock that Red Wave. Love Courtney!”
From a Post-It…to a latte…to the Village People, these simple inspirations embody the essence of the Trolley Run and the amazing team at CCVI that benefits when we support it: no matter who you are, no matter what your abilities, when you’re not sure how much more you can take, there is someone just around the corner ready to support and inspire you.
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