Debbie Kelly – iCan Athlete Spotlight – 10/2/12
Three friends walk into a bar….
I know it sounds like a joke, and maybe in some weird way it is. After all, “are you joking” seams to be the most common response when I tell people that I’m training for the Des Moines marathon. However, as I sat in the bar eating my cheesy fries and listening to my two friends talk about Coach Loran’s iCan challenge and it suddenly became something that I wanted to do.
I’m not exactly sure why. I’ve never “enjoyed” running; couldn’t run a mile to save my life and thought people who did marathons were basically NUTS. However, the more I thought about it the more I knew this was a challenge I didn’t want to slip away. I wanted to be able to say, “I did that.”
Most people assume it’s something that’s on my bucket list. But it’s not; in fact I don’t really have a bucket list anymore. I used to think it was a great idea to write down things you wanted to do before you die and cross them off as you go. The only problem was I kept adding to the list but never crossing anything off. I kept waiting to do those things later, some day, eventually; after all I’m planning to live to be 100 so there’s no hurry. Right? Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
On Dec. 30, 2008 while on vacation in Texas I started having these little muscle spasms. I was positive they were from the stress; I mean joy, of a holiday road trip in the middle of a huge ice storm with my wonderful family. But after 5 spells my husband took me to the ER were we were soon informed, “Oh, you have a brain tumor”.
Yup, pretty much like that. The old rip-the-Band-Aid-off method of delivering bad news. I even laughed out loud when the doctor said it because it seamed so absurd. But as I sat there and things started to sink in, my thoughts eventually drifted to my bucket list. At the very top of the list was a trip to the Louvre in Paris. It’s been at the top of my list ever since I decided to become an Art major in college. What respectable artist doesn’t want to go to the Louvre? But the more I thought of my bucket list the more I realized I didn’t want to do anything on my list. None of it seamed important. All I wanted to do was go home and spend time with my 3 boys and husband. I wanted to snuggle on the couch till we fell asleep, laugh until my face hurt, and enjoy every second of my beautiful family.
6 days later I woke up in recovery.
I knew my name and could wiggle my toes. I had survived my little scare without a single complication and felt like the luckiest person in the world. Not just lucky everything turned out ok but lucky that God gave me a wake up call. I changed my perspective on life and stopped putting things on a list for later. I made a conscience decision to live everyday and to not let opportunities pass me by, even if they scare the be-jeez-us outta me. And doing the Des Moines marathon definitely scared the bejeezus outta me.
But some how Coach Loran convinced me that this was something he could train anyone to do.
He calmed my fears. He took this HUGE task and made it somehow seam do-able. Everyday I had something to do that pushed me farther. He kept saying, “It’s progress not perfection”. Progress not perfection, progress not perfection would repeat in my mind as I started to jog/walk.
Keep in mind I couldn’t run 1 mile and have plantar fasciitis. Which if you don’t know what that is, it feels like I have a dozen infected splitters in the bottom of my feet. And every once in a while if I step just right I get a whopping zing up my entire leg. Fun-Fun.
But with Coach Loran’s help I was soon able to run 2 miles, then 6, then 10 (in a huge rain storm), then the next thing I knew I ran 16 miles. 16 MILES!!! But the funny part is when I reached the end my GPS only said 15.8. Which wasn’t good enough for me. So I kept running… in circles… in the parking lot… staring constantly at my GPS till it turned to 16.00. I’ve officially turned into one of those crazy runners.
But seriously, going from the couch to a marathon has been such a huge battle for me, both physically and emotionally. A battle I couldn’t win without the support of the iCan team — this group of complete strangers that has been there for me every step of the way. Literally, every, single, step — these strangers, turned friends, have been amazing. They have helped me accept it doesn’t matter how fast my time is, only that I have the courage to step up to the starting line. And because of them I know I will have the determination to cross the finish line.
So whenever I look back on my life, whether it’s next month, next year or when I’m 100, I will be able to say, “that was pretty great”.