Yesterday afternoon, I drove to Davidson, NC, a quaint college town about 30 miles north of my home in south Charlotte, to take part in the second annual 24 Hours of Loopy on the town Green, an event to promote awareness of Batten disease and raise money for the Batten Disease Support & Research Association. When I arrived a few minutes after 2:30, a totally loopy, totally awesome ultra marathon runner named Jeff McGonnell had already been circling the patch of grass in front of the public library for close to 19 hours. Various others had come and gone – from serious runners in Jeff’s Davidson Area Running Team (DART) group to fun-loving 5-year-olds to walkers.
I slipped into the rotation a few minutes before 3 p.m. After my last race in April, I took it easy for most of May, and I didn’t expect to tally more than a couple of miles, maybe five or six at most, before finding a golf chair and kicking back to enjoy the live music. But I was having too much fun to stop at mile six. At mile seven, I picked up new garb (in return for making a donation, spectators could dress runners in crazy costumes). At mile 10, I realized I had enough time to run 3.1 more, even with a break for two oatmeal raisin cookies from the Soda Shop across Main Street. I hadn’t run more than eight miles since a 10-mile race on April 21. I hadn’t trained for a half marathon. I hadn’t eaten a pre-half marathon dinner the night before or half-marathon breakfast or lunch before leaving my house the day of (in fact, I’d inhaled two brownies on my way out the door). But I had blue skies overhead, a gentle breeze on my skin, live music on the course and a supportive crowd that included my parents and Taylor. I had pig ears on my head, a red boa around my neck and a grass skirt around my waist (what?! :)). I’d set out that day to run for Taylor. I still felt strong. Nothing hurt – too much. So I figured I might as well keep running.
Thirty minutes later, I finished my unofficial half marathon just as Jeff McGonnell began his final lap around the Green.
Some days, I want to quit fighting this fight. Just walk away. Some days, it just hurts too much. Some days, the hills are just too steep.
But somehow, I keep finding a way to shake those days off. I never stop hurting. I’ve never found flat ground. But I’ve never stopped fighting.
I entered this race. I’ve got some momentum. It doesn’t always feel good. I don’t get to stop and rest whenever I choose. But I’ve made progress. I hurt, but not so much that I can’t run. So I might as well keep running.