Saturday morning arrived and rather than feeling too tired to get up at 5:30 am, I was actually energized. Kelly had emailed me the day before to make sure I was going to be at the Mentor-led training at the Baylands Park Trail in Mt. View/Palo Alto.
The Baylands Park Trail is located along the southern part of the San Francisco Bay. Given that it’s right on the water, it was fairly windy and cold, but it was also really lovely. The weather on Saturday was overcast, but perfect for walking.
Kelly arrived and handed me a gift bag. I was so touched, but I didn’t open it yet, since we were about to start the walk. I thanked her so much, and she said it was just a little something that she picked up because she was thinking of me.
Kelly and I began walking, and right away, she started talking about how she had one mode when she walked or ran – slow. This was really difficult for me to believe, especially considering the fact that she is incredibly fit. She participates in marathons and triathlons, and her figure is to die for. She said that when she started training with TNT, she also experienced the feeling of being the last one. She said that she was always beating herself up for it, and it wasn’t until she finished the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon that things finally “clicked” for her. She said the feeling she got when she crossed that finish line was like nothing she had every experienced. She wished she wouldn’t have been so hard on herself during the training, because at the moment she reached the finish line, all that mattered was that she had completed it, not how quickly she did it. She said that she felt like she had missed out on so much of the journey of the training, because she was concentrating on the wrong things. Now she accepts that she’s going to be the slow one, and she tries not to let the “demons” of negative self-talk stand in the way of her accomplishing her goals. And then she said that she saw so much of herself in me.
Everything she said really hit home with me. I have been concentrating on the fact that I’m so slow rather than in all that I’ve accomplished. Here we were, up at 7am on a Saturday morning, about to walk for 2 hours. That in itself was an accomplishment. I knew that she was right and that I would be sorry if I let my competitiveness get in the way of experiencing the journey of this TNT experience.
As we continued, my legs began to cramp in the calves, and Kelly said we should stop and stretch. She said that she also has really inflexible muscles, and that she can’t even touch her toes. She bent down to show me, and she couldn’t. I was shocked! I can touch my toes, and I probably way 150 pounds more than she does. It just goes to show that everyone has their own physical limitations.
We continued along the path at a pace of about a 20-minute mile. At mile 2 my right foot started going numb. I can’t describe how uncomfortable and then painful this is. It’s like when your feet “go to sleep,” with the tingling, etc., but as the numbness travels up my leg all the way to my hip, it gets really scary. I untied my laces a bit to allow for the swelling, and that alleviated the numbness a bit, but not all the way. The numbness moved to my left foot, and then I decided to undo my laces all the way. But I didn’t stop.
We kept talking, and I realized how much Kelly and I have in common. She was a history major, and want to become a high school teacher. She asked if she could come and observe my classroom to complete the 30 hours required to enroll in the credential program, and I said of course. I kept thinking about what a sacrifice she had made to come out and walk with me. About how caring she was, and how she was such a special person for doing it. She made me want to continue, through the pain, because I wanted to make sure that I didn’t let her down or make her feel like she had given up her morning for nothing. It felt so great to finally be able to verbalize some of the things that I had been keeping inside, and I appreciated Kelly so much for allowing me to be vulnerable enough to share everything with her.
We kept walking the entire 2 hours, and completed over 6 miles. At mile 4, the numbness went away, my leg muscles were warmed up, and I felt stronger than I did at the beginning. I know I finished the walk faster than I began it.
At the end of the walk, I soon realized that completely undoing my laces might have helped with the numbness, but it was a dumb move in terms of blisters. It was clear that I now had blisters on the bottom of each of my feet, right at the balls of the feet. Still, the feeling of accomplishment I felt after just having walked 6 miles was incredible. 6 miles = a 10K!!!!! And I felt like Kelly had been part life coach, part new friend out on that trail with me.
Later when I got home, I opened the gift bag she gave me and found a hand-held water bottle/fuel pouch. Kelly had mentioned that she liked using the hand-held models better, because running with the fuel belt around her waist was annoying to her. I had no idea at the time that she had bought one for me. How sweet was that? Then I discovered something even more special in the bag – it was a card that touched me so much it made me cry.
Reading that card made me so overwhelmed. To know that someone who I barely knew took the time to find the perfect card was incredible. It really helped me feel the boost I needed to continue on with this training. Plus it was a great reminder that I have to refocus my thoughts and try to stop thinking about how slow I am and concentrate instead on how much I have accomplished.
The card now has a prominent place on my refrigerator.
I may be slow, but I’m also mighty!