Some of my friends and I ran in a Warrior Dash today. The hills, rocky terrain, mud, and obstacles challenged us, and one of us cheered from the sidelines. I know that was its own kind of challenge. But today was not about the race as much as it was about being together.
We started training in 2016 to make our bodies stronger. We continued into 2017 because we realized getting stronger together was a lot more fun. Our workouts did our bodies good, but it did our hearts good too.
Long runs are a great time for long talks. Sometimes sweating it out can lead to crying it out. And laughing while attempting a perfectly executed bear crawl is just good for the soul.
My daughter’s friend asked me why I race. The medal is nice, the crazy warrior hat is fun and I like working hard to get to the finish line.
But more than anything, today was about friendship.
It was about us saying to one another, “I’m glad you’re here!”
“We don’t really make friends, they make us.” Bob Goff
I raced in my 2nd Spartan Sprint at Fort Benning, Georgia this weekend.
Before you’re tempted to think I’m a hard core athlete or a fitness guru, let me tell you, I am not. I’m a 40-something wife and mother of three who ran my first 5K two years ago in honor of my mother and to support the local hospice organization that helped care for her.
Something changed when I trained for and finished my first race though. I wrote about my journey from believing I could never run to finishing my first 5K in a post called Run.
I continued to train for other races on my own but then joined a group of women training for our first Spartan Race last summer. It was incredible. I wrote about that too in my post Together and here we are together again.
Something special happens when you join a group of people working toward running a hard race. You show up to the workouts when you’d rather not. You work harder because you see the others working harder. You cheer for one another and learn from each other. Then it becomes something more than working out together. You talk and laugh and get to know each other. You conquer fears together. You share life stuff and you care about these people. You want to do your best in the race and you want them to do their best too.
I realize this race wasn’t my race….it was our race. Each one of the ladies in our group made me better in some way. I run better. I’m stronger. I’m more confident. I have more fun. All because of these amazing women!
As part of my Live Like It Matters Challenge, I challenge you to do the same. Gather a group of people…..friends, co-workers, family, whoever and set a goal to do something hard. Find a local 5K and train for it together. Pick a Relay for Life event and raise a certain amount of money together then participate. Gather a team and train to compete in dragon boat races. Do a Warrior Dash or a fun run with your kids.
There are one hundred creative ways to do something hard with a group of people.
After months of training for a race like I’ve never run before…..I ran the course and finished.
And I finished well.
The race was 4.22 miles with 22 obstacles and it was amazing.
It was the teamwork. The encouragement. The ability to do more than I thought I could. It was strangers offering a hand or a knee to help and me offering one in return. It was how I pushed myself. It was conquering fears and obstacles and it was watching others conquer fears and obstacles. It was hard and eye-opening. It was humbling and heart-opening too.
Running a Spartan Sprint was a good thing to do on a Saturday morning.
I almost missed it though. In short, a wrong map took us to the wrong place. We turned around and took the right map to the right place and finally arrived at the military base where the race was held. But 100,000 slow moving vehicles were between me and where I needed to be (not really that many but it seemed like it). I jumped out of my husband’s truck, sprinted a mile to the registration tent, picked up my racer’s pack and made it to the starting line in time.
This race was more than just a race for me. I learned a great deal about myself and others. I learned the importance of doing new things and taking on challenges but two things really stand out.
Training made a significant difference in my race. And not only my race……but getting to the race in time. I ran the mile to make the race with no problem because I was prepared. I trained with other women every Saturday morning for months leading up to the race but I worked out on my own 5 times a week. Our Saturdays were great but not enough to prepare me adequately. I was consistent and disciplined in my own preparation and it made all the difference in my race…..in my confidence going into it and in how I performed.
The other major lesson learned is that we are better together. The women I trained with were a constant source of encouragement as we prepared for the race. We lifted each other up on our bad days, cheered our victories, and talked down our fears. We held each other accountable.
I made it to the starting line on time because two friends helped me get my gear and chip timer on and made sure I was hydrated before we started.
And I could not have finished the race well without my racing partners. We stayed together throughout the entire race. They pushed me and lifted me (they literally lifted me at one point). We laughed. We strained. We cheered and helped each other. We cheered and helped other racers. We joked at all the mud and we raced with all our hearts.
The encouragement from these women…..the help, the drive, the smiles and laughter were vital to my race.
Life’s that way, too.
We are better together. We just are.
And being prepared is better than not being prepared. It just is.
Try something new and do something hard. And help others do it.
And let them help you.
Because it matters. Live like it matters.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT
It’s time for another Live Like it Matters Challenge.
I issue these challenges to inspire you and me (because I have to remind myself often) to make a positive difference in the lives of those around us, wherever we are. Some of the challenges are easier than others. Saying hello is easy. Laughing is easy. And part of this one is definitely easy because you already do this several times a day.
You already eat food. The challenge is to invite someone over to your home to eat food with you.
There is no need to throw an elaborate dinner party. I’m not asking you to entertain guests. The challenge is to offer hospitality and there is a distinct difference between the two. Entertaining is usually something we do to impress others. Hospitality is warm and inviting. It’s making those in your home feel comfortable and meeting their needs so they leave your home refreshed.
There’s just something about sharing a meal with someone in your home. When you have people in your home you get to know each other more intimately. The guards come down, the pretense falls away, the masks come off. It’s a really good thing.
So…..invite friends, a co-worker, your aunt and uncle, whoever you’d like into your home to share a meal or maybe a simple dessert and coffee. No fancy house needed. New furniture is not required. No need for special culinary training or fancy dinnerware. Dixie cups and paper plates will do just fine.
The only necessities are an invitation, some food, and a place to sit. And the best invitation is the face to face kind.
I searched for a profound quote about opening your home, and eating food with people. I wanted the quote to say something about how happy this act of hospitality would make you and them.
I couldn’t find one I liked so there is no quote. But there is this.
Just ask, make the plan, and eat food together.
Then let me hear about it.
Do you invite people into your home often? If not, why? What is your best or worst experience when sharing a meal with others?
None of us knew this would be the last time Mom and Dad were together.
Mom had been sick for years and Dad her sole caretaker for the last two. He was still working his full-time job out of his home office when he started feeling abnormally tired in the spring of 2014.
Mom hadn’t been out of the house for months…..except for an emergency room visit the month before. But she mustered up enough energy to go to the hospital to see Dad. He was in the intensive care unit. The visit from Mom was a surprise to Dad and the oxygen mask couldn’t hide the big smile on his face when he saw Mom.
They reached for each other and held each other’s hands. They told each other “I love you” and stared at each other. Squeezed and patted each others’ hands.
Those of us in the room felt the sacredness of the moment. I think they knew this was the last time.
The last time they’d hold hands. The last “I love you”. The last time they’d see each other.