February 23, 2014

Cowtown half-marathon recap


Since the marathon in January, I’ve hardly run at all. First I was recovering. Then the weather was bad, I was busy at work, I’ve had this never ending headache, etc. etc. excuse excuse. Truthfully, I just didn’t feel much like running. I was kind of over it. So I did 2 miles here, four miles there, and regretted ever signing up to run today’s half-marathon in a flurry of marathon training madness.


But I had signed up. So this morning I got up at 4 am and got dressed to drive to Fort Worth and my eye fell on the name “Cooter” on the back of my race jersey. And I told myself to remember that among other things, I run for those who can’t.


Cooter is the nickname of our friend Corey Berry. I want to tell you about Corey, but I don’t really know how. I keep wanting to say he’s a great guy, but what does that really mean? I could tell you that he’s the kind of guy who has that special knack to see someone who feels left out or uncomfortable and find a way to bring them into the group. To see someone who needs help and never hesitate to hold out his hand. I could tell you that he’s a veteran. A Rangers fan. A huge supporter of the Azle High School football team. One of the first people to congratulate me after my marathon last month.


I could tell you how brave he’s been in his fight against cancer. That he chose to keep fighting even when it meant undergoing a surgery that took his voice and his ability to eat. That he still found joy in his friends and family, a cup of cocoa or a bowl of soup. That I laughed on New Years Eve when he volunteered to be a designated driver for anyone who needed one, with the added bonus that he had no voice and wouldn’t be able to yell at you. That I sobbed when he posted about breaking down in tears because he just wanted to eat a piece of cheese toast.


Not too long ago, Corey’s doctors gave him bad news. The cancer was back, again, and had spread, again. There was nothing more they could do. He’s now in hospice, his long fight almost over.


Today I sent my friends on ahead of me at the race, knowing I’d need to go slower than they were. As I ran, I thought of Corey and his sweet, giving heart. And I found myself really enjoying every moment. Thanking the guy in his lawn chair clapping for each of us as we went by. Making friends in the twelve(!) minute bathroom line at mile one. Giving a wave and nod to the police officers keeping traffic at bay as we ran through Fort Worth. Picking the littlest kid at the water stand to take a cup of Gatorade from. Dancing and whooping as I went by the bands, from polka to blues to rock. Smiling at and high fiving the TNT cheer squad at the big hill at mile 9. At mile 12 I caught up with my friends and teammates Mark and Chrissie and we all crossed the finish line together.


I didn’t get a PR today (thanks to that bathroom line!) But instead, I got something much better. I got a reminder that running is an opportunity, not an obligation. And that Team in Training has given me much more than I’ve given back.


Everyone reading this knows I always run for Angi – it says so right on my shirt. But I know she’d be the first to understand when I say, Cooter, my friend, this one’s for you.


About Elizabeth

Running and thinking about life one step at a time.
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