Yep, It's True. I Ran from Baltimore to Key West...and It Changed My Life.
Updated: Jul 11, 2019
So, two Fridays ago I found myself supporting the Living Classrooms Foundation at their Maritime Magic event. My husband serves on the Board of Trustees and we attend every year. It’s such a great time—highly recommend! In my life, this is a common Friday goings-on with great food and people and the visions of me sleeping in on Saturday, getting up and having coffee in bed, reading the Sun, correcting the Sun’s grammar mistakes, etc. Not so this time. Around 10pm as I ordered another beer, and my husband and I were discussing the coming week with friends, it became real. I was leaving the next morning at 6:30am to run from Locust Point to Key West. Yikes. What. Was. I. Thinking????? Run to the store? Got it. Run a forgotten lunch into school? I’m your girl. But, Key West? Are you kidding me? What had I gotten myself into?
A serial volunteer and over-committer (see my previous blogs on how I’ve stopped that), I had applied to the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults’ Point to Point Experience, joining a group to raise funds and awareness for young adults with cancer. I had visions of training and being totally prepared…… and then life took over. I kept up (sort of) with the correspondence required to not be kicked off the team, thinking that tomorrow would be the day I’d start seriously training and fundraising. I got up that Saturday at 5am, unpacked the gear provided to me by UCF, had my husband drive me to Locust Point, and there was no turning back.
First off, let me make it clear I really don’t do well without at least 3 cups of coffee and to date had not ever run more than 4 miles at a clip outside, and with no music. This was going to be interesting. Trying not to appear the resident “high-maintenance” team member, I assembled with my group for 8 days that would change my life.
Without getting into the nitty-gritty of everyone’s stories, we spent the next 8 days sharing the details of our lives with each other, on the road, in vans, in hotel rooms, in cancer centers. We became family. Sorry to get all “kumbaya” on you, but that is exactly what happened. We all “trusted the process” and went with it. We ran and walked together through blistering heat, torrential downpours and swampy, mosquito-infested trails. We hugged, cried, asked for advice, gave support to each other, sang songs, face-timed families, talked about our hopes and dreams, and shared our deepest secrets and fears.
Here are the lessons my new family members taught me:
1) Always be open to listen to others. I met the most real people on this trip. By allowing them to open up to me and listen to them, and not judge, we were able to get close and really learn from each other.
2) Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. You never know how much you have in common with others who are seemingly nothing like you on the outside. Share, and share some more.
3) Reflect on the good things in life. We are all lucky to have time with family and friends. Remember the love and memories you share with those who are no longer with us.
4) Treat everyone you meet with kindness. On one of the legs of our trip, I was visited by a dear friend whom I’d met through my daughter’s lacrosse team. He drove to meet us at our hotel, supported us after a long day, then made generous donation to our cause. There are a lot of great people in this world. Thank you, @AndySegal.
5) Don’t just write a check. Pick a cause and do something about it. Take your vacation time or your weekend and give back. I wish I had the time to do it all over again next month. I was able to really unplug and absorb the experiences we had together and with the patients and caregivers we met along the way.
Lastly, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. A year ago, I could barely run a mile. On this trip, I ran a total of 56 miles in 7 days and walked the other 12+. You can do it. I kept running this quote through my head and forgive me as I forget who said it—“Be careful what you are saying to yourself, because you are listening.”
Thank you to the Ulman Cancer Fund and their amazing staff, my family for allowing me to be absent for 8 days (I think I missed a total of 8 lacrosse games and 2 cross country meets and countless good night kisses), and the 27 most courageous people I know—the 2017 Point to Point Experience Team. Love you!