TGIF: 3 “A-Ha Moments” in the Aftermath of Running My First Half-Marathon

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On ginger tea, the ugly cry, sista-friends and a few good men.

“I’d like to see your sweet face today!” I chirped on Idelette’s Facebook wall early Monday morning. “We need to process, unpack and revel.”

Idelette or Idli (as I like to call her) came over a little past noon on a rainy Monday afternoon. Now this wasn’t your average Monday visit. It was the Monday after conquering this behemoth undertaking.

We reflected over our 14-week “SheLoves Half-Marathon,” journey sipping on steaming cups of ginger tea, freshly cut mangoes, a homemade plum torte and banana chips. I’d hoped that spending time with her would give me words to define the full range of emotions I was feeling. We murmured the word “wow” a lot and smiled. Sip. I looked at the carelessly-strewn blue ribbon medal on my desk. It said, “Half-Marathon Runner.” Wow. On what parallel universe was I a half-marathon runner? Words couldn’t give shape to the enormity of what we were both feeling.

Sip.

I can always find words to express what I’m feeling but …

This was different.
This was significant.
This was sacred.

We had trained, toiled and triumphed. Mission accomplished. It’s hard to put into words what we (38 women + Josh) accomplished on Sunday, but if a picture tells a thousand words, then I think my entire half-marathon experience can be summed up in this one picture:

This is me, sobbing in my sister’s arms seconds after crossing the finish line. This wasn’t a polite sniff. A sentimental misty-eye. A feel-good teardrop.

This was a raw heart cry that emerged gushed out of the most tender part of my soul. If I weren’t crying in my sister’s arms, I would’ve probably been on my hands and knees, forehead to the ground, rocking myself back and forth weeping. This was me: stripped naked, head-spinning, heart-pounding, pushed to the very edge of my physical capacity and emotional sanity.

I had listened to the still small voice in my heart.
I had finished what I set out to do.
I had given it all.

In talking with my friend Kelley over Skype this week, I realized that a part of why I crying was because I could feel God’s incredible pleasure wash over me in that moment. So many times in the past I’ve procrastinated, taken the easy road and given up. For once in my life I kept my word, followed through and finished strong.

While I could talk about a million different things from the experience, here are the top three a-ha moments in the aftermath of running my first half-marathon:

1. Go fierce (big) or go home.

Meet my friend Njoki. I love this picture of us hugging just as she crossed the finish line! I want you to take a moment to look at her face. Go on. Scroll up. I’ll wait.

Primal, raw and fierce.

What you don’t know about the picture is that Njoki’s knee popped out of its socket at the 14km mark. This hardcore woman ran seven kilometers on a bum knee! She is such a fighter. I’ve mentioned this quote on TGIF before: “The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.” Njoki, gave it her umph alright. She ran across that line Saving Private Ryan style. In order to live a great life, to write a grand story, to leave behind a legacy you have to be fiercely committed to unleash the ferocious lioness within. And hey … if you need a solid cry later? We can hug it out over Ben & Jerry’s and watch Grey’s.

Lukewarm, mellow and laid-back can’t change the world. Fierce, relentless and a touch of crazy,  just might.

2. Sisterhood is powerful.

At the 17km mark my left leg started to seriously cramp up. My calves were rock hard like coconuts. Every step was excruciating and to be honest, I didn’t know how I was going to finish. Enter stage right, a mini battalion of sista-friends.

When the girls saw me struggling to reach the finish line they ran out to support me. This of course made me so emotional I started to do the ugly cry, which is incidentally why I’m covering my face. Hearing your friends say predictable things in times of distress is strangely comforting. Words like, “Go Tina”, “You’re almost there” and “You’re a rockstar!” were crucial to my finishing the race.

We all need someone in our corner. We need someone who believes in us. We need someone to chant, “You’re almost there.” We need to be the kind of girls who cheer each other across the finish line of life. Note to self: Show up for someone else today. *insert customary girl power anthem here: “We are a family, I’ve got all my sisters with me …” *

3. Good men are not an urban myth.

This is a picture of my friend Jenna’s mom and dad. I love that her dad is hugging his wife with one arm and documenting her victory with the other. Who says men can’t multi-task?

After race-day my Facebook newsfeed has had a steady stream of “likes,” comments and notifications regarding the half-marathon. My favourite status updates, however, have been from men bragging on their wives. Reading things like: “My wife is my hero;” “My wife just ran 21km. Boom!”; “I want to be just like my wife when I grow up,” make me want to break out into a tribal dance to the heavens.

While 38 women celebrated this physical and spiritual victory, about 38 men (give or take a few) took pictures, recorded video, watched babies, held jackets, carried towels, parked cars, distributed hugs and stood proudly on the sidelines. Giving my dad a hug before starting my last kilometer recharged me in a way that I can’t explain.

Husbands, sons and brothers rallied around their warrior womenfolk.

Isn’t this what God intended? Men who are strengthened, not intimidated, by women kicking butt at life. Men who cheer women across the finish line of life. Men who believe that women can shape culture, history and generations.

Men and women standing side by side, changing the world, one step at a time.

Sunday (bloody Sunday) was beautiful proof that it’s possible.

It’s out there, man … I’ve seen it … 🙂

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Here’s a look back at our 14-week journey:

  1. The Risky Business of Changing the World
  2. What I Learned About World Peace from JFK, Titanic and Miss Congeniality
  3. What Training for a Half-Marathon is Teaching me about Writing
  4. The Yellow T-Shirt that Taught Me to Love my Thunder Thighs
  5. Why is Beyonce Giving Me Mixed Signals?
  6. Are you a Lone Nut or a Leader?
  7. I Broke My iPhone But Life is Still Pretty Awesome
  8. I’m Coming Out and I Want the World to Know
  9. How a Cardboard Pirate Ship Helped Me Realize That My Life Had Come Full Circle
  10. One Wedding, Two Friends and Learning to Let Go
  11. Girl Meets Boy, Freaks “The-Heck-Out” and Runs Away. The End.
  12. How I Learned to Savour My Charlie Brown Moment?
  13. Our 14 Favourite “PowerSongs”: Anthems for the Battle of the Hamstrings vs. Heartstrings
  14. The Final Countdown: On exquisite blueberry tarts, epic writer’s block and savouring the moment.

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So my SheLoves peeps, I have three thoughts this week:

1. Have you had a “Go fierce or go home” moment? When was the last time you gave 100% to something?

2. Can you think of a difficult season in your life when a sister helped you across the “finish line” of life? Is there a girl in your world that you need to show up for? Dig deep.

3. What are your views on men and women working together to change the future? Are you encouraged or disheartened by the current state of gender wars? Are we making progress or losing ground, according to you? I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.

And if you have been following our journey and not yet given to this incredible cause, we’d love for you to be part of this beautiful story we are all writing together. It’s not too late to give! Donate: HERE!

Love you more than the bacon cheeseburger and yam fries I inhaled after the race,
xoxo,
Teen

To read more TGIFs from Tina: Click here.

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SheLoves Half-Marathon for Living Hope
– How it all got started? Read the story: HERE

– Donate: HERE

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Tina Francis
My name is Tina. Loved ones call me: Teen. Words are my chocolate. Music, my caramel. Photography, my bread. Girlfriends, my butter. Confession: Some girls dream about Manolo Blahniks or their next Hermes bag. Not me. I dream of freshly baked bread, perfectly barbecued meat & steaming bowls of Pho. My dream lover *cue Mariah Carey song* is someone who would read out a menu to me in Barry White’s baritone voice. I celebrate food, ask for help, interrupt conversations, laugh and cry hard, acknowledge the elephant in most rooms, fight for the underdog and believe in the power of storytelling. I was born and raised in Dubai and currently live in the beautiful city of Vancouver, known for some of the best sushi in the world.
Tina Francis
Tina Francis