A Letter to Laura

I have a new hero. Her name is Laura. On Sunday, Laura will run the LA Marathon. This is pretty exceptional all by itself, given that less than 1% of the population will ever complete a marathon. But Laura has traveled farther than most to get to this place.

She has surmounted a great many obstacles in her young life, not the least of which is a debilitating disease. Laura has chronic rheumatoid arthritis. There have been times over the past few years when even walking was nearly impossible. And now she is going to run.

26 miles.

Unfathomable!!

For this courageous woman, pushing her own personal boundaries is not enough. She is using her odyssey to help others. She has raised nearly $4,000.00 for C.A.T.S. (Center for Assault Treatment Services).

Running to help heal the bodies, minds, and spirits of the countless sexual assault and sexual abuse survivors, one step at a time…

I am, quite frankly, in awe of her.

As a fellow endurance runner, and as one who holds this brave young woman in the highest esteem, I send these words today to Laura. Feel free to eavesdrop.

Dearest Laura,

To even dream of running a marathon requires a great deal of daring. It is not for the faint of heart. But, it seems to me that you have been preparing for this moment for years. Life has asked a lot of you. You could have allowed this to defeat you or make you bitter. Instead you are burning it as fuel.

As if that were not enough, you have allowed your own pain to make you a valiant defender of the broken. Your gift to C.A.T.S. will provide freedom and healing to many. It will give them the ability to breathe again. Thank you for that.

As a fellow marathoner, I have a few words for you as you go into your first:

You have already done the hardest part. Getting out there week after week and running farther than you have ever run requires exceptional fortitude…and a wee bit of magic. 🙂 It is not glamorous. It is sweaty and hard. This you have done.

Like you, I usually only train to 21 or 22 miles. In my first marathon this messed with my head a little. Would I be able to find those extra 5 miles on game day? The answer to that question is YES!! Event day will bring an energy to you you didn’t know you had. And all those miles you’ve logged have developed in you the physical stamina to do more than you have yet asked of your body.

The most excruciating part of any race for me is the couple of hours before start. Nervous energy, which will serve me later, just makes me a wreck…like a race horse pawing the dirt in its stall.  I wonder if I’ve eaten enough. Or too much. Should I go to the bathroom one more time? But when the run begins, I’m home. This I know. This I’ve done.

I know you are running with friends and you probably know all the standard wisdom. Don’t go out too fast. Run YOUR pace. Don’t do a lot of needless weaving in and out of people. (It adds mileage!) Walk when you need to. Stay hydrated. etc….

Drink deeply of this day. Listen to the cheers. They are cheering for YOU! People who have never dreamed of doing what you are doing…people who can only imagine what it has cost you…are in awe of you. You are a hero to them. Take it in. High five the little kids who will line the path. Notice all the beautiful things along the way. This day is gift.

Laura, you are an extraordinary young woman. I wish you could know how you have inspired me. Your story will inspire countless others as well. I will be praying for you on Sunday morning from the time I wake up and anxiously awaiting news of your finish. You can do this.

Blessings to you, dear one.

GODSPEED!

Dear friends, will you also pray for Laura on Sunday morning? The run begins at 7:20 Pacific time. Also, if you are interested in helping her reach her goal of $4,000.00 for C.A.T.S. (she is almost there), leave a comment and I will send you donation details. Finally, if you would like to leave her good wishes or advice, I will be sure to pass those along.