Oct 31, 2013

Has there ever been a moment in your life where you absolutely don’t think you can accomplish the task in front of you? Well I was faced with that feeling over this past weekend. I was supposed to run in the Marine Corps Marathon, but due to knee surgery, I knew that wasn’t possible. I didn’t even think running a 10k would be feasible, but then I ran into a group of wounded warriors and my thoughts drastically changed.

The night before the race I had dinner with a man from a small town in Ohio. He grew up working the fields with his dad. He was a huge Ohio State football fan, liked athletics and country music, but most importantly he loved his country. Tim was his name and Tim had a story like all of us.

Tim was a wounded warrior. He served his country in Iraq and Afghanistan for two tours, and unfortunately he came back without his legs. Tim was the victim of an IED explosion, but he didn’t let that explosion blow up his life.

Tim’s participated in seven marathons as a hand cyclist and the race on Sunday was to be his eighth. There are a couple of different types of hand cycles, in Tim’s category of hand cycling he sits back in a chair that looks like a reclined tricycle. He then uses his hands to pedal the bike. Hand cycles require tremendous upper body strength as well as significant core strength. After he explained the different types of hand cycling and his own stories from different marathons, he asked me if I was racing tomorrow.

After hearing a story like Tim’s, it felt silly to tell him I was throwing in the towel and not participating because of a knee injury. I looked him square in the eye and said, “Yes, I am racing tomorrow, and I can’t wait.” His answer back was simple, “Oorah!”

I ran half of the marathon on Sunday. I split it up in two parts; I ran the 10k and then circled back to the course to finish the race with my friend. As I was running up the hill towards the finish line for the 10k I was asked to scoot over so the marathon hand cyclists could finish too! Think about that for a second…I had only run 6.2 miles and these two guys had cycled 26.2 miles! I ran up that hill and crossed the finish line at the same time as the winner for the hand cyclists did. This guy was missing both legs and had a scare on his face. As he crossed the line, he yelled out, “OORAH!”

Oorah, I did it, I accomplished the first part of my mission, now it was on to the next part: tackle 6 more miles. Even though I limped across the finish line for a second time, I felt incredible. I set a goal and I accomplished my mission. Tim inspired me to do great things. He pushed me to challenge myself, but most importantly he instilled a belief in me that I could do anything.

I later thanked Tim for challenging me; his response was simple, “OORAH Mam.”

My question to you is simple: do you have someone in your life who will challenge you? Do you have that someone who will look you in the eye and simply say “oorah”? If you don’t have that person in your life, then go out and find them. Surround yourself with the best possible people around. Accomplish your mission and allow yourself to do the uncommon.