Longtime readers know that the Detroit Turkey Trot is a favored run of mine each year. It started as a challenge to prove I could and has since become a run of gratitude as I bask in the glory of doing what I once never thought I could. It has become a celebration of my body and all it has been for me despite the abuse I heaped on it with food. It has become a worship run where I use my body to praise the One who has brought me thus far in life.
This year held special meaning for me as I would be running this race at my lightest weight ever and sans 100 lbs. While thrilling, I have been struggling with how to give my 100 lb milestone some time and space to be celebrated. Noted. Honored. For me. From Me.
Then an idea hit me. I would run this race with my usual heart of Thanksgiving, while carrying balloons. I would carry 10 balloons, 1 for every 10 lbs I have lost so far. This was a fantastic idea! I would carry these balloons and at the end, before I crossed the finish line, I would release them, saying goodbye to that weight forever. Brilliant.
But then came more. As I reflected on my journey, I realized that with those 100 lbs and the last 4 years of work, I realized I have changed. I have become a new person and so much more than weight has been lost as I worked through the issues that brought the weight on and kept the weight on over the years. As I confronted the ugliness of my story, and embraced the beauty of who I am, I lost much, and gained so much more.
So, my balloons became more than just symbols of weight to be released, they became symbols of so much more. So I began writing on my balloons at 11 PM the night before the race. I am certain the following words are just a smidge of all I have lost, and that will be lost as I continue my journey, but for now, this is what I have recognized I have lost. For space sake, I may do a follow-up blog detailing more of what these words mean to me.
Each balloon represented 10 lbs and the following: Shame. Fear. Doubt. Regret. Hopelessness. Discouragement. Negativity. Powerlessness. Weakness. Anger. Bitterness. Unforgiveness. Self-hate. Condemnation. The Beast.
So that is the plan. Run with balloons. Say goodbye without the weight of them as I cross a finish line and as I learn to embrace who I have become, Beautiful.
This race I was running alone, so on some level it was lonely to be doing this by myself and on the other hand it was perfectly fitting that I did this on my own while amongst 22,000 people. I have many fans and friends and supporters who have come alongside me and helped me along as I traveled but I realized as I started to feel sorry for myself for being alone on this day that no matter how many people I have in my corner, I have to make the choices and do what it takes to get to the end. It is my Journey. My Results. My Responsibility. My Celebration. Mine. I get to own this fully. Being alone for this race meant I got to celebrate the way I wanted to without feeling like I had to accommodate anyone else. Perfect.
So now for a race recap.
Best. Race. Ever.
Balloons were obnoxiously hitting people in the face as I ran and the wind would randomly blow. Incidentally, my journey has smacked people in the face as well. Either I have inspired you, annoyed you, or challenged you simply by living my journey out loud. No apologies.
For the first time in 4 Turkey Trots, I was able to wear my race shirt on race day…or ever, because it fit.
Several people asked about my balloons and I got to share my story. Others, it was interesting to note, noticed my balloons, and talked about them amongst their running buddies, coming up with their own interpretations.
I ran with a huge crowd of people the whole time. Historically, within the first mile, I have fallen so far back that one would not know I was in a race with 22,000 other Detroiters. Not this year. This year, I PASSED alot of people and as I approached the final half mile, I was in shock that it was almost over…and as I looked at my watch, I realized, I could very well run my fastest 5k ever, without even trying. (Remind me to write about the Run Thru The Rapids, my fastest recorded time a month ago)
As I headed in to my last half mile, I realized, I was quite tired of carrying these blasted balloons. Whose idea was this anyway? You would be surprised how much resistance is created when you have 10 balloons tied together as you try to run! My arm was tired of the resistance and my hand was tired from gripping them tight so I didn’t lose them.
Coincidentally this is how I have felt about my weight. I am tired of carrying it around. Tired of it getting in my way, and in the way of others, tired of it limiting my mobility and tired of all of the negative emotions it brings with it.
I was nearing the end and ready to let this burden go, once and for all. I picked up my pace too because now that I knew I could PR without trying, now I was actually gonna TRY and see what I could do! I sprinted down the hill, around the bend, along the river, through the tunnel (no joke, the only thing missing is Grandma’s house) and there is my stretch of sky to let my burden go in before I cross the finish line…
I paused. I looked up and let my balloons go. (I tried to take a picture, but a picture was not meant to be)
Then I took off, ready to finish my best race yet!
Then, I came to a screeching halt. I realized, for the first time, what it is like to finish this race in the middle of the pack of finishers. 100 yards and about 15 running seconds away from my finish line, Suddenly, traffic backed up and the race stopped as thousands of runners came into the finish area at the same time with nowhere to go. It took me another 5 minutes to actually cross the finish line.
I am used to finishing so far behind everyone else that the announcer has time to get my bib number, look it up, and then call out my name as I huff and puff to the finish line. I don’t think I like this middle of the pack business. I think I am just gonna have to get faster so I finish at the FRONT of the pack, because there is no going backwards for me!