I am certain of many things in life.
The belief that everything happens for a reason.
And I’m certain that I have the horrible luck.
Last night, I was BEYOND excited that Justin’s parents got me a “Run Happy” cape for the 5k.
|Brooks Running re-tweeted this picture of me and posted it on their Pinterest board.
The excitement quickly turned me into a five-year-old child.
“Rodger- take a picture of me jumping in the air!!” I yelled.
|Of course the picture didn’t even turn out well…|
I landed on the ground hard – and my foot couldn’t handle the impact, so it quickly gave out.
I feel backward.
My foot instantly started tingling.
“Are you OK?” Rodger asked me while laughing.
I lied, “Yeah, I think I’m OK.”
I tried to get up and it hurt SO bad to put any weight on my foot. Of course, the day before a race, and I jack up my foot.
|Friday night = reading Runner’s World, icing my right foot and playing Draw Something.|
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Rodger asked me again.
It was time to admit it.
“No, I’m not doing too well…it really hurts,” I said.
When I woke up this morning, my foot felt worse.
I limped to the bathroom.
“Nothing is stopping me today,” I thought.
I decided I would gimp the entire race if needed. After all, my heart is in it for the Pro (Doug) and Paul, Meggie Dial’s father, who both are fighting Parkinson’s Disease.
All of the money raised from the 5K and golf tournament this weekend is going to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.
I’ve only met Doug a few times and I’ve never met Paul, but I felt so connected to them this morning.
I’m running-walking-gimping-crawling for them.
Whatever it takes, I’ll finish this race with them in my heart.
“I decided I’m doing the race,” I told Justin. “People like Doug and Paul fight harder than me…experience more pain than me..on a daily basis. I’m doing this for them.”
|In my heart.|
|Determined to finish.|
So, Bandit and I started to stretch and get ready for the our run.
The rain started to pick up, but I tried to keep my spirits bright.
When we got to the Elk’s, we pulled in next to an older couple.
“I sure hope they are walking,” I joked. “I need some walking buddies.”
Never would I imagine that I would be crossing the finish line with this older man (and his wife would kick our butt’s!!). I’ll get to that part soon.
Everyone loved my cape- and Bandit. He was SUCH a ham (just like his mother).
He was running up to everyone and giving kisses like they were going out of style.
Rodger, bless him, taped up my heel before the run. We sneaked into the ballroom…and that was when my first dose of inspiration hit.
|Justin and I celebrated our wedding reception in this hall.
I can’t believe it’ll be two years in May.
After I was taped up, I had about five minutes before the race would start.
I ran into Doug.
He looked tired and weak. The disease is certainly started to take a toll on him. My heart melted and I wanted nothing more than to give him a giant hug.
He probably thought I was about to flash him when I pulled up my shirt and said, “DOUG – Look what I made for you!”
He read my shirt and gave me the biggest smile…”Wow,” he said. “Thank you, man!”
I’m not sure why he called me man, but it made me laugh.
“That’s awesome,” he said still smiling. “Good luck out there!”
Another dose of inspiration-support and love from Doug. I walked away and wanted to cry. This might not be a shocker to some people- who know I cry very easily- but I couldn’t help myself. I was so happy that I made the decision to run for the cause. I can only imagine what Doug, Paul and their loved ones go through each and every day.
I found my biggest fan and my running partner with just a few minutes to go…
|Awkward family photo.
Bandit is giving us the butt.
Justin is judging Bandit for giving us the butt.
I’m probably laughing with an adorable old man.
We walked to the start line. The rain was picking up and it was REALLY cold.
Don’t let the weather defeat you, I reminded myself.
Don’t let your injury defeat you either, I said.
“This is the second year for this race,” Rodger said. “And we are all here for this man.”
“YAYYY DOUG!” I yelled from the back of the line.
People clapped and a few others cheered for Doug.
And with that, the race started. I was standing with Rodger’s friend from high school, Greg, and his girlfriend Tammi. They were power walking the entire thing.
“Well, I think I’m going to start off running,” I said to them. “If nothing else, I can say I tired.”
“You go girl,” they said and wished me off.
Every single step hurt. I tried not to think of the pain and pressure, but it was overwhelming. My pace was VERY slow, probably 13:30 min / mile.
And then Bandit started acting weird.
He had to poop.
And per my luck, the poop bag I had with me blew out of my pocket.
So, Bandit takes a hug dump on the golf course and I had no clue what do it.
I took off my hat and placed it just in front of the poop.
Someone laughed, “She marked the poop!”
I didn’t have a choice; I didn’t want an angry golfer to find me later covered in dog poop.
I did my slow jog for about a half mile and stopped for a walking break.
“Who is holding who back?,” someone asked as they passed me. “The dog or the owner?”
“Oh definitely the owner,” I said and tried to keep my spirits high.
I saw Bill, the older gentlemen from earlier. His wife, Marsha, was a power walking machine. She was already a quarter mile ahead of us. Keeping up with her was my goal, which proved to be unsuccessful.
Bill was carrying both of their umbrellas. He was power walking pretty fast too. And eventually, he passed me.
I was slowing down.
I needed a burst of motivation.
I thought Doug, Paul and Meggie.
Meggie is running a FULL marathon today, Ashley. Get it in gear, I told myself.
And with that, I looked at Bandit and said, “You ready buddy?”
We were coming up on Bill and he yelled back, “Are you going to pass me or what?”
“I’ve been trying to,” I said back. “You and your wife just keep beating me.”
I saw the club house and thought it was the finish line (I didn’t have my watch or RunKeeper application working).
But it wasn’t the finish line.
I was annoyed.
I saw Justin.
“One more mile!” Justin said.
“Are you kidding me?” I said. “This is bullshit. I think the course is wrong,” I told Justin.
He laughed at how mad I was…but that’s what happens when an injured runner thinks they are almost done…then they learn 1.1 more miles to go.
I ran down the hill and then started walking for a minute. I don’t know if I was hallucinating or if Justin really yelled for me..but I heard, “Keep going, Ash!”
And I took off with a light jog again.
I needed to stay motivated somehow. My foot was completely numb. And I couldn’t figure out if it hurt more to walk or run.
So, I decided to play a game with myself.
Okay, if you run past that small tree- you’re doing pretty good, I told myself.
If you run past that big tree, you’re a rockstar….like way better than Bret Michaels.
Before I knew it, I ran past the small tree AND the big tree.
Eat your heart out Bret Michaels.
I kept running. I was beyond proud of myself at this point.
Then, I heard loud thunder and saw the BIGGEST strike of lightening.
Bandit and I both jumped.
The lightening struck something and I saw smoke in the air.
Holy CRAP, I thought. I better run faster or I’m going to be smoking next!
I kept running, and I was coming up on Bill, who I noticed was leaning forward too much.
I looked at Bill and then whatever was smoking caught my eye again.
And by the time I looked at Bill again, he was on the ground.
“Are you okay!?” I yelled.
And started running toward him as fast as I could
I put my arm around his back.
“Hi, how are you feeling?” I asked.
“Thanks for stopping, but I don’t want to hold you up,” he said. “I’m fine – you just keep going.”
Yeah right, I thought. You were beating me anyway, buddy.
“No, I’m going to stay here with you,” I said back. “Do you want me to call someone for help?”
“No!” he demanded. “I’m fine.”
He stood up and said, “Go ahead- I don’t want to keep you and your dog in the rain.”
“Oh we are fine!” I said. “Trust me. I am injured, so I am in no rush.”
With that said, we took off together power walking. And I was determined to never leave his side.
The rain started pouring down on us harder and the wind was picking up too.
We were coming up over a hill and I noticed he started to lean forward again. He was falling over again.
“I’m sorry, my legs are just weak,” he said.
“Don’t be sorry!” I said. “Let’s just take a break.”
So we squatted down a bit.
“I guess I should get your name,” I said. “What is your name?”
“Bill,” he said back.
“Well Bill, my name is Ashley and this here is Bandit,” I said.
Bandit shared his love with us by shaking off his wet fur.
“Goodness Bandit, not now!” I said.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to call someone for help?” I asked Bill.
“No,” he said again. “Not when we are this close to finishing.”
“Okay,” I said, admiring his dedication.
I tried to change the subject for a minute, “Your wife sure is a rockstar! She is a power walking machine! What’s her name?”
“Marsha,” Bill said back to me. “And yes -she is. I don’t even try to keep up with her.”
We waited a few more seconds, and a golf cart drove by us while were squatting on the ground.
“Are you guys okay?” he asked.
“We are good!” Bill yelled before I could respond.
Bill seemed to be doing okay. He was talking fine, and knew where he was…I truly just think his legs were weak and the wet ground wasn’t making it any easier on anyone.
“We are going to make it,” I said.
I helped Bill up and asked him if he wanted to link arms.
“No,” he said – being a stubborn old man. “My legs are just tired. I’m fine.”
We started walking again and he said, “I’m going to slow things down.”
“I am in NO rush, Bill,” I said. “We can go as slow as you want.”
A few minutes later we were coming up the hill and I saw Justin and Chuck holding the stop watch, “Run, Ash! Sprint across the finish line.”
But I made a promise to Bill.
We were finishing together.
So, I stood by his side and we crossed the finish line at the same time.
Bill got first in his age group.
And I got second in my age group (there were only two of us in the group- but hey, I’m still proud!!).
|Drenched, but happy that we finished strong.|
Marsha came down to get Bill, “Are you okay?” she asked.
“Oh, I’m fine!” he said.
Then he looked back at me, “Thank you, Ashley. Thank you.”
I almost cried, I know- I cry all of the time.
But I kept thinking about what could have happened if I wasn’t out there with him.
I realized that every second in our life matters...
you are where you should be for a reason.
I grabbed lunch with Greg, Tammi, Bill and Marsha after the race.
Marsha was, of course, the cutest. She was so happy and positive. I learned that she is avid mini marathoner. We’ve actually done the same races- The Indianapolis Marathon (half marathon every October in Fort Harrison State Park) and the Indy Mini marathon. I hope I’m still that active when I’m in my late 60’s.
When saying goodbye, Bill said, “It was nice meeting you, Ashley. Thank you for picking me up out there… twice.”
“Of course,” I said. “But you helped pick me up too. You gave me motivation to finish when I really needed it.”
I told you earlier that I am certain everything happens for a reason. My husband would say the reason for my careless injury was a lack of support from my shoes to handle the impact of my jump.
But I think my injury occurred so that I could finish the race with Bill by my side.