Week 5, Day 5
I never sleep that well on Friday nights before a long run, especially the one time a season that it’s my turn to give the mission moment. (This is when someone on our team shares their story about why they joined Team in Training, to motivate us all before we run.) Even though this is the fifth time I’ve told Angi’s story, I still can’t get through the whole thing without crying. Here’s part of what I said:
“One of the hard things about telling this story is that it’s hard to describe a person to someone who’s never met her. I could tell you that my friend Angi was a great person, but who’s going to get up and say that their friend is a jerk? What I want to tell you – and one reason I picked this picture to show you (the first one below) is that her smile lit up the room, and she was always laughing. She used to have a quote on her Facebook that said she lived her life like a child at a carnival, all bright eyed and excited, and she really did. She was the most optimistic person I ever met. She was the kind of person that when you were feeling bad, she could make you feel not just like everything was going to be okay, but that everything was going to be kind of awesome. In fact, I rarely called her Angi, because to all of her friends she was always Bubbles.
Then I told the part that you all know – how Angi got sick and was diagnosed with ALL. How I started running and ran my first 5k around the time she found out they had found a match for the stem cell transplant. How the transplant was successful and I signed up to run the Disney half-marathon in January 2013 in her honor. How she was in and out of the hospital with infections that summer. That she died the day before I started training for the race I ran in her memory instead of in her honor. How Joel came (second photo) to the race, but that what you can’t see in that picture is the backpack he carried that day with Angi’s ashes so she could be at the finish line, and how two days later he went to the ocean and released her
And I told them about Bubble Up, how it was our friends’ version of man up or cowboy up, in recognition of how hard Angi fought, and why I put it on my race shirt. That it’s funny to hear people yell out, “Bubble up, Liz” when they don’t know what it means, but that it means a whole lot to me. Then I finished:
“Look, I didn’t start running until I was 42 years old. I’m obviously larger than your average runner. I smoked a pack a day for over 15 years. When I was 35, an orthopedic surgeon told me I had the knees of a 70 year old. So I’m never going to qualify for Boston. I’m never going to be able to run as fast as my friends on the team. In fact, I’m probably always going to be just trying to beat the bus that picks you up if you go too slow.
And sometimes there’s a little voice in my head that says, “why bother? Why don’t you just turn around early? What difference does it make if you skip a training run or count a walk around the block with a glass of wine as a 5 mile run?” And sometimes it’s a little louder, and it tells me “you can’t run a half-marathon” – which I did – or “you can’t run a full marathon” – which I did last year or “you can’t run Goofy” which I’m going to do this year, or “you can’t raise enough money to meet the fundraising minimums.” And the only way I know to make that voice shut up is to take a deep breath, think of my friend Angi, put on my best smile, and Bubble Up.”