As I was fighting the headwind I kept in mind the two gentlemen who have a much tougher challenge than I face this weekend.
My Miami-to-Key West Ragnar Relay team is doing something a bit unorthodox. Instead of climbing into a van full of tired, stinky teammates between our three legs of this nearly 200-mile relay, we’re hopping on bicycles. Yup, we’re riding all of the 200-ish miles – minus the part we run.
This is hardcore.
Those of you who know me are laughing because if there is one thing I am not, it’s hardcore. I am the epitome of inconsistent.
So as the reality of this challenge started to him me a few days ago, I knew I’d need help.
First off, I heard some bad news about a friend. Curtis Grinaker was one of the guys I wrote about last spring who attended a fishing get away for guys with Cancer. I can’t tell you how inspiring these men were. I have loved knowing them and keeping in touch with them. Curtis learned his cancer has spread, but his attitude is nothing but positive. I run for him.
And then there is my father-in-law, Edward C. Brass. He had a very serious and life-altering surgery Wednesday and now faces months of rehab. I sent him an e-mail through my brother-in-law letting him know we were in this together. I ride for him.
Interestingly, both of these men love fishing. In fact, my father-in-law’s goal is to be fishing in June. Curt and the other guys at the Reel Recovery retreat end every e-mail with “Be well, Fish on.”
I wrote their names on my race bib. I carry them in my heart. Their ability to fight through physical pain reminds me that the ache in my legs is a blessing. Their toughness is my tailwind on this journey.
When I feel tired, I remind myself that these men know real fatigue. When I crashed (took a corner too fast), I jumped right back up. We’ve biked about 40 miles and I’ve run 4.8 miles. The longest, hardest part of our journey lies ahead of us, just as it does for Curt and Ed.
As I rode on a narrow stretch of highway, not even the honking cars and irritated drivers could steal the gratitude I feel today. I take in the sunshine, appreciate the view and say a little prayer of thanks.
It is a gift to be riding a bicycle, feeling the burn. It is a joy to be running, even if my legs feel heavier.
It is a gift to have men like Curt and Ed in my life. Thank you to both of them for showing me what grace and strength looks like in an everyday marathon.
You are my inspiration. You are hardcore.
Be well, Fish on.