I’ve been a long distance runner almost as long as I can remember. I never considered myself any good at it, but always just felt like it was one of the things that centered me each day – a lot like a morning cup of coffee (although, as I have aged, I need that, too). I always just considered it the thing I did by myself, for myself, and that maybe it was even a little selfish to take this much time to be away from work and family for something that was really only benefiting me. I have often said that I run for my soul and that my body goes along for the ride.
A couple of years ago, I decided I could push though, that I could get faster. I set my sights on the Boston Marathon – the most elite marathon in the country and the only one for which runners must qualify (with the exception of some sponsor slots they give away in order to make the race viable) – only about nine percent of runners qualify for this longstanding, prestigious race. I knew it was a long shot, but I knew I had a shot.
In May 2010, I headed to the Colorado Marathon in Fort Collins. I ran hard and fast, but missed qualifying by one minute and 30 seconds. Disappointed, sore and frustrated, I think 30 minutes after the race was over, I had decided maybe it just wasn’t in the cards for me, but a few hours later –with the support of a great partner, Scott Kennicutt, and my family– I decided I would try again.
Tucson Marathon in December 2010 – I went into that race injured, but feeling like I could do it! I was on track all the way to mile 20 to qualify when we hit major head winds. I missed again by five minutes this time. I knew, though, I knew I could do it, so I regrouped, solicited the help of an amazing coach and set my sights again on the Colorado Marathon in 2011. I wanted redemption at that race, but just days prior to the race, some dear friends lost their oldest son in a tragic accident. I felt horrible and was prepared to not race. I told them I would stay and be here with them at that time. But no, they wouldn’t have it… I was told to go run, run with the angels, run with the spirit of the young man who was so special that we lost all too soon. So I went and I did run, I ran hard and fast through the most beautiful, mountainous course right along the river and all the while I felt it, I felt the spirit of the family who was hurting and knew the pain I was having from running was nothing like what they were feeling. I felt the cheers and the hope that people had in me, and I ran harder and faster with each thought. I did it that day – I qualified for Boston, beating my best time ever by nearly 18 minutes! I did it that day I QUALIFIED AND I REALIZED it wasn’t just me – that maybe other people were involved in my running, and what a wonderful feeling it was.
Now, a few months later, as I have started gearing up for the race of a lifetime, I have once again been blessed. Cheryl and the SilverSneakers surprised me one day, calling me into their exercise class to tell me how much they were rooting for me, how excited they are and how they wanted to help.
Boston will be the race of a lifetime because it has taken so much to qualify, but it also seems that most of us can only afford to go once! Bostonians are not quite the same as Sierra County residents. When we invite folks to race here, we get them deals on rooms, discounts on meals, and show them hometown hospitality – but it seems Boston is much better at making the big bucks and the price of rooms, air travel, and even meals is exaggerated during the days around the race. That didn’t matter to me – I was bound and determined I would find a way to make it happen.
Cheryl and the SilverSneakers, though, surprised me by selling bands – bright orange bands that say “Kori – Boston 2012”!
It also has surprised me just how many folks are buying and wearing the bands. I’m always shocked and flattered when I see someone in the store or out in the community and they lift their arm up to wave and show me their band AND their support. I am so very humbled by this attempt to raise money to help support me in my trip and I am moved beyond words to think that so many are invested in me running down a dream!
Maybe more people than I realized understand that it really isn’t about competition, not deep down, its not really about running, it is about asking me to be my best mentally, physically and spiritually. Maybe, I have been wrong all along, and although I benefit so deeply physically and mentally from my training, maybe others feel some of the blessings, too. I do so hope that it’s a shared success!
I know I will show up to Boston, most likely being the only one who has an entire county of supporters behind her, cheering her on in her latest crazy, once-in-a-lifetime dream!
Thank you, Sierra County; thank you, coach; thank you, Belle and Jason, for sharing your angel; thank you, my family; thank you, Cheryl and the Silver Sneakers. I will run for all of you on April 16!