The Double-Sided Finish Line
When you stop and think of it, all finish lines have two sides and there are different ways to think about that. What comes to mind for me is based on my experiences with races such as the Ironman World Championship, The Honu, The Lavaman, and various marathons.
When it comes to those races, the ones I have completed myself as an “athlete” is the Kona Marathon. The very first time I did it was simply to prove to myself that I didn’t have to be a Wonder Woman to do it and as long as I finished it before the cut off time, I was happy. I was pretty excited actually when the time came. I had my little fanny pack with supplies that I wanted to have with me that I knew would not be at any of the aid stations such as energy chews, a couple snack bars and Performance (the down to earth version of the hydration drink that Shaklee makes for NASA’s Astronauts), which I already pre-scooped into individual little bags so as to add it to water along the course. I vividly remember having a smile on my face almost the entire 26.4 miles! I do say almost as there were some moments of pushing thru and re-shifting my thoughts on what I wanted to focus on besides that my feet were hurting. Being that this was my very first marathon, I was open to the possibilities of this new experience and as I came around one of the turns, there was a gal who was sitting there feeling down as she was cramping and was about to quit the race…..and she had done many others with no problems. The heat out here can be a doozy, especially when walking on the hot black roads, surrounded by lava fields and there is nothing to shade you from the hot Hawaiian sun. She hit her wall and didn’t think she could even get up to take another step. I walked over to the aid station, got a cup of water, mixed in our Performance and gave it to her to drink. I then reached out for her hand and told her it was no time to quit…..only about 9 miles left. We were on the home stretch. We ended up walking together until her husband came over as he backtracked from the finish line worried about her. Being that she was in the company of her very own cheerleader (yes, men are great cheerleaders too), I took off to finish strong and waited for her to cross that finish line on her own. What an emotional moment it was for the both of us.
The second time I did the Kona Marathon, it was when the course got moved to be out of Waikoloa and most of the race was out on the highway surrounded by what appears to be never ending lava fields. I did that one as a fundraiser for ShakleeCares (natural disaster relief supplies and financial aid). Little did I know what would happen on our own island with the volcano and ShakleeCares sent over thousands of dollars worth of supplies that we were able to distribute to those who were displaced by the eruption. That second race was a complete different experience for me compared to the first one. This time, I am the one who “hit a wall” with less than 10 miles to go. I had the standard supplies with me all attached to my camel pack that was filled with Performance. Yet…….The one thing that I forgot to pack was sunscreen! I got so burned and I could feel myself boiling…it wasn’t funny. As I pushed thru, my mind became blank instead of singing songs from musicals like I was doing earlier on. And yet, with a blank mind and the few thoughts of “can’t give up” and “I got this!” there is something that stuck out to me. I was hearing people comments like in a dream state and hearing “Dang…. she so sun- burned but she’s still smiling”. Funny, isn’t it, what sticks in our mind. I did get a last burst of energy as I entered the chute down to the finish line, only to realize that I entered on the right instead of the left so had to go back and re-enter so that I could get to the finish line. I was literally in tears at that point…..of sheer joy to have finished what I set out to do. And then came the realization that I had over a mile to walk to get back to the hotel…..and soak in a semi-warm bath to cool down my sunburned body. I was lobster red!
Both of those races, I was so thankful for all the volunteers that were out there on the sidelines to cheer us on, hand out water, oranges, and whatever else provided at each aid station.
And thinking of that double sided finish line, I do not hesitate to volunteer anytime I can for the races that happen around here. This past weekend, I was at the Lavaman. Our station was literally the finish line. We got there early for set up and to decorate…..after all, there are photos being taken as the athletes cross that finishing line and we want the area to look good.
We stayed until the last runner came thru as we wanted to celebrate her with as much enthusiasm as we did for all the other athletes that day.
Every single time of volunteering, there are new experiences for me. Whether it is helping to translate with the families of the athletes for the Ironman triathlon, handing out water, and everything else we do…..there is always something different to treasure.
One of those moments to treasure took place this past weekend. As I was working on floral arrangements for the finish line, one of the athletes was there looking out at the ocean so I asked her if she was ready. She just looked at me and said she was so nervous. I didn’t think twice about my response and made the observation that it’s probably like pre-wedding jitters! Doing the Lavaman triathlon is a commitment just like a wedding is a commitment. The only difference is that with the race, you know where the finish line is and that’s the goal. Nothing negative about weddings as I have been married going on 25 years. Marriage to me is for life and a race is done when you cross that finish line. She thought it interesting that I used a wedding jitters analogy as she is a Navy Chaplin! She asked me if I would be there at the finish line when she finished….and as she crossed that finish line, she came straight to me and gave me the biggest hug and thanked me for the pep talk (I didn’t realize it was a pep talk…..I simply shared the words that came) and for waiting for her at the finish.
Finish lines can represent different times in our lives…..accomplishments, the start of the next chapter and so much more.
I would love to hear what thoughts come to your mind when you think about either side of the double-sided finish line.
Marie-anne A.K.A. Mom
Make tomorrow amazing….. It starts with You today!