If you had asked me five years ago if I though I would be on the cusp of my third training season with Team World Vision, running to bring clean water to kids and families throughout Africa, I would have laughed in your face. Five years ago, I was about nine months away from a tragedy that would change my life forever. On Christmas Eve 2012, my friend and mentor was shot and killed while working as a police officer; within a month, I lost three more loved ones. While I’d been diagnosed with clinical depression and generalized anxiety long beforehand, the experience of losing so many loved dearly beloved people in a short period of time altered my life trajectory in a radical way. I found myself feeling a desperation and grief unlike anything else I’ve ever known- so I called it “The Hole.”
The first time I was hit by “The Hole” in public, my family and I were walking to the start line of a 5K cross-country race. I yelled at my mom when she asked me a (very reasonable) question, and then I sat down on the gravel and cried. While I was able to get up on my feet and run that race, I realized that the beginning of the end to my competitive running career was upon me when my 50-something father came running past me (an 18-year-old, freshly-minted high school graduate with three years of racing experience) in the last 800 meters while I stopped and tried not to throw up.
Earlier this week, I picked my bum up off the couch and walked to my favorite running store to be fit for a good pair of running shoes. I’ve tried twice before to train for this specific marathon, and I haven’t made it to a starting line yet. It occurred to me on that walk that perhaps my weak, un-toned and chronically inflamed body isn’t the biggest obstacle: maybe it’s my ego. Maybe, I am afraid- that I can’t finish a marathon, that I’m going to soil myself in public (runner’s gut, amirite?), that I won’t be able to hold a respectable pace (my fastest mile ever was 6:40, but these days I feel fast at 11:00 minute pace). So I’m choosing to actively hope- to lace up my shoes, go for a speed-walk and PRAY PRAY PRAY that this will be worth it. I’d love it if you would join me.
Chip in for clean water in Africa at http://www.teamworldvision.org/hopeloverunjillian