(From left: Heather, Laurie and I in simultaneous post-race euphoria)
Sometimes a person makes a decision to accomplish a task- a bevy of concrete reasons not required. It's a "just because" moment. For Laurie Russell, Saturday March 3, 2018 was one of them.
My 61 year old sister was the consummate 5k gal. She was comfortable with the distance. It was where she wanted to be. The very idea of the woman who successfully dodged PE class becoming a runner and physically fit may be a stretch to begin with but nevertheless, it happened. Surprisingly she liked it. Strike that- she loved it. If you are a runner no explanation is needed.
Fast forward to the day I received an email from her saying she joined a running group, hired a trainer and began her quest (to complete with much aplomb) her first half marathon. And would I like to join her? Well, well, well! I asked her what prompted her to run this race (skipping the 10k distance completely) and she replied: "I feel good and the time is right! Hearing that her daughter Heather was joining us cemented the deal. I'm in!
Hearing about her training schedule in the unusually cold weather for South Carolina would have broken any mere mortal but not Laurie Russell. Through ice, wind and sub 30 degree Fahrenheit temperatures she suited up on Wednesdays and Saturdays to endure the training runs. All with a smile on her face and a fire in her belly.
(Laurie, Heather and I at the Expo getting ready to rumble)
A bit about the Myrtle Beach Marathon/Half Marathon and 5k: a lovely route starting by the Sports Complex, passing by many well-known areas such as Market Commons and coming back alongside the many beach hotels and resorts by the ocean. It is a well-run event characterized by the very friendly community of the city. If you are a runner, put this one on your calendar and combine the race with a destination vacation.
Race weekend weather forecast: temperatures in the 30's with very strong winds. We prepare by beefing up our race wardrobe at the expo with matching ear warmers and gloves! With coffee brewing on race morning at 4:30 am, we are ready to rumble!
Laurie is like a puppy who can't sit still. We arrive at the start line all the while watching her jump up and down pogo stick style. She thanked every law enforcement officer working that day and hugged every member of her group. She had so much enthusiasm, in fact, that Heather and I were afraid she would "whirly gig herself" out before we started!
The race begins without fanfare: no national anthem or race announcements. With coordinated presses of our Garmins, we're off! We have decided to stay all together deferring to Laurie's pace. At the end of each mile, we celebrate with a song of our choice! At Mile 4 at a potty stop, she is still so enthralled she actually takes a picture of the potty!
Laurie's husband, Rick, is our Uber driver and cheerleader. He has attached a St. Patrick's Day Hat to a Swifter stick and holds it up so we can see him. What a trooper!
(Me with Rick’s Pole)
It was definitely colder standing there then running. Speaking of the aforementioned wind, it rears its ugly about Mile 9 when we found the beach strip. Laurie is still positive and happy albeit a bit quieter. We are close to reaching the maximum of her longest run. For any runner new to a distance this time can be a bit disconcerting. Laurie, being Laurie, keeps chin up, toes forward and happy demeanor.
(STILL happy even at the Half Way Point!)
We see the finish line. She starts to cry. Runners are well acquainted with this feeling when finishing a first race of distance. We three cross hand in hand victorious and thankful to have good, health, strong legs and people who love us.
(Post-Race breakfast picture with Paula Deen – she was REALLY impressed with Laurie!)
The take home message of this story is what speaks to you. For me, it is the overwhelming sense of not only pride and love for my sister but a renewed confidence in one's ability to accomplish tasks that may seem insurmountable. Perhaps there may be a time in your life when you feel like cards are stacked against you. Or maybe you're just feeling "less then." I hope you are inspired by Laurie and the wind beneath her wings.