Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mission Accomplished.

 We were on a mission.

She was cold, tired and hurting. At 1 hour 46 minutes and 15 seconds she ran across the finish line. Her race was over. And by all accounts her mission was accomplished. Almost. She still had something left to do.

So she grabbed a bottle of water, collected her finishers medal and put on a thin plastic poncho to protect her from the extreme cold wind. Then she started running again. This time in the opposite direction. Running back.

She ran for about half a kilometer until she saw one of the runners from her group. Then she turned with them and ran them home. All the way to the finish line.

She did this again. And again. Approximately 9 times until all of her runners were finished.

She is Angie.

"'Leave no man behind"

You will hear this phrase used by the military.The U.S marines. It's like an unwritten code between soldiers.When they go out on a mission, no matter how tough the battle is, they will
 never leave a soldier behind. Ever.

Angie is a marathon instructor and I am one of the runners in her clinic. She knows a lot about marathons, because she has run many of them . She knows about the physical and mental stamina that is needed to endure and complete the race. She knows it can be tough out there. So whenever she takes us out for training or for a race, she practices a code. A clinic instructors code. Leave no runner behind.

Since she is fast, Angie is usually one of the first to finish. But she's never truly finished until the last runner gets to the end. Sometimes she has to wait for us, sometimes she has to call us and on occasion she may have to drive to find one of us . But we're never left alone.

On Sunday I was on a mission too. A simple training exercise. It should have been easy, but shin splints made it feel like mission impossible. Still I soldiered on. And just when I thought I couldn't go any further, there was Angie running toward me. She came back for the last runner. Me.

We were 600 metres away from the finish line. At the end of the race there are always crowds, cheering, music and festivities. I tuned out all the noise so I could listen to the voice that I've come to know and trust during my training. Angie. She ran alongside me with encouraging words until I got to the finish line.

After the sweet exchange of salty tears and much saltier sweat, she said "You did it Elaine, you did it."  But I knew it I didn't do it on my own. It was a team effort. We did it together.

At 2 hours 23 minutes and 45 seconds I stopped running. Then and only then could Angie finally stop running too. I realized that although mine was a solo mission, Angie's wasn't. Her mission ended when mine did. Mission accomplished.

I am glad that when I race, I only have worry about getting myself to the finish line. But I am so grateful for the leaders like Angie, Colin, Monick, Megan, Dom and Diane who make it their mission to bring every last runner home.

March 4th 2012

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