Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On becoming a substitute runner

For many weeks, Christy and daughter Emily, an eleven-year old sixth grader, faithfully headed out the door for a run. Emily, fresh off her first season of middle-school cross country, was anxious to take on a half-marathon. Christy, inspired to complete the event as a mother-daughter duo, had also been training. With a short week before the big day, everything was falling into place. Well, almost everything.

Bad, bad bouncy ball mishap
Christy is an assistant elementary school principal. Of course, school-age children go hand-in-hand with school-age fun. And this principal was not to be left sitting on the sidelines. She chose, instead, to sit on a big bouncy ball. After a couple of test bounces, it reared up like a deranged stallion and threw it's rider to the side. Somewhere in the catapulted trajectory, the meniscus in her knee said "no" to flying, leaving her with a gigantic, swollen leg. When four days of rest produced little relief, her doctor evacuated the built-up fluid, deflating the knee as well as her spirits. Christy's race was over before the starting gun sounded.

"Are you going to let her run by herself?" I questioned.

"No. She's so young. I am heartbroken that my injury is keeping Emily from her dream."

"Well, how about I run with her in your place? Do you think she would like that?"

"Yes!" And, so it was. I would be the substitute mom to accompany Emily on her journey along the Dan River.

Before the race begins
The day was picture perfect with sun shining and pleasant temps. The course wound along the banks of the Dan River, offering views of water fowl, the river cascading over dams, and fallen leaves enjoying a journey on the gentle current. Emily seemed to take it all in stride. She was calm at the start but appropriately anxious to be underway.

Off we went, making a short mile and a half journey to the south before retracing our steps to continue to the north. "You okay? Be sure to let me know if we need to back off." When she assured me she was happy, we followed the crowd along the tree-lined path. We even tried our hand at capturing leaves fluttering down from above. All was well.

I took great joy in telling everyone along the way about Emily. "Can you believe she is a sixth-grader and doing so well?" All were amazed and encouraging. As the miles ticked off, I also enjoyed talking with everyone I could. It gave Emily someone else to listen to other than my running mouth.

At each aid station, I suggested what Emily should eat and drink. She readily complied. But when we got to the four mile hilly loop, she told me about developing blisters. A helpful volunteer pulled out some band-aids and we applied them to her foot. There is nothing worse than thinking about aching feet with more miles to run. With the repair completed, we continued on our journey.

With the loop checked off, we had but four miles to the finish. "Emily, on a scale of one to ten, how bad are you hurting?"

"Hum. About a five, I guess" was her response.

Smiling, I said, "Well, good, you have plenty of room to suffer." She grinned but kept running. No complaints. No whining. Just forward motion.

Twice more, I asked her for a number. Seven and seven and a half were the answers. After that, I stopped asking fearing the fun meter was running out. Instead, I said "Em, let's try to keep ahead of the guy behind us and catch that woman up ahead." She gave it all she had.

Emily and Rebekah nearing the finish
We had but a half mile when we crossed the footbridge. "We're almost home! You did it. Be sure to smile for your mom and dad." She did. With Christy's tears hidden behind sunglasses, she watched her daughter cross the line in 2:18, a noteworthy pace of 10:36 per mile. She was happy for Emily's accomplishment, but at the same time, sorrowful she missed the opportunity to sweat along side her.

Thank you, Christy and Emily, for allowing me to share in your day. It was my utmost privilege to be a substitute.


Theresa said...

So cool Rebekah! What a blessing you were to both of them. You are such a good encourager!!! Love your writing! and your heart!!!

Rick Gray said...

Sounds just like you to jump in and help with whatever you could do. I know you did not write this to talk about yourself, so I will stop in that regard. I think it is wonderful that a mother and daughter challenged each other to achieve something that was thought to be beyond their reach. Christy became injured and was unable to test herself and run with Emily, but Emily did both of them proud in knowing that their training was right on target. I imagine that once Christy's knee is happy again, the two of them will set their sights on a new race to test themselves.

Congratulations to Emily and to Christy in the not too distant future.

Casseday said...


Anonymous said...

Wow, very inspiring!So great of you to jump in and be such a blessing to Christy and Emily!
Seems like a new run for them is around the corner, and one you should participate in as well!

Freda said...

Emily is an exceptional young woman! I have enjoyed watching her grow. Christy is an awesome mother. I am so glad that you were able to help make Emily's dream come true. I have no doubt that there will be many races shared by Emily and Christy. Thanks for your willingness to step in! You are such an encourager Rebekah!

Rebekah Trittipoe said...

I may have encouraged but it was so much fun to be a part of it! I think I may have benefited more than anyone.

Follow the yellow lines

Jack in his younger days "Well, you know I can't live here by myself. I'm moving in with you." I guess he was serious....