R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me. Funny how lyrics to a song can come crashing through your brain at the moment you need to hear it the most. Just a little bit, Just a little bit! Sing it Aretha. Those lyrics carried my Legs, Heart, & Sole as we ran away from a crazy race director several weeks ago at a half-marathon. Faster, faster!
It all went down like this....Team Ari was getting ready at the start line for our second attempt at beginning our Celebrate 13 Half-Marathon schedule. Two weeks prior on what should have been a glorious race day at the Napa Valley Half, ended up being a disappointment as we were forced to withdraw due to Ari's injury and respiratory illness. So here we were in anxious anticipation of starting a great journey at another race when suddenly and unexpectedly, BAM, a rather angry gentleman approached Michael. "You are not going to race with THAT thing are you?" he said. Michael paused for a moment but I could over hear him politely explain that Ari was being pushed in her adaptive running chair. We were cleared with the Race Director prior to registering for this race. Angry man abruptly exclaimed he WAS the race director and his Co-Director did not clear it with him, therefore we should NOT be running this race. I realized that this could easily escalate so I reassured Angry man that Team Ari races often and we are very skilled at it. Angry man huffed and begrudgingly agreed the only way we could participate was to start at the back of the pack. I'll take it, I thought, even tho it is against my better judgement. We were being punished, just like other women, and other ethnicities before us had been punished. You can't sit at the front of the Bus, You are only allowed to sit in the back! But what Angry man didn't realize due to his ignorance is that I can clip a fast pace pushing Ari and adaptive chairs should be positioned in the middle to the front of the pack for safety.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity the race begins. Ari and I are making our way through the crowded pack, safely passing slower runners. We are talking, laughing, and excited like we always are when we begin to run. When suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I see Angry man running after us, waving his arms, and yelling. I slow my pace down for a moment just long enough to hear him rant, "You have to be at the back, you can't be here!!!!!" He is lunging forward with his hand outstretched as if he is going to physically knock me over. He is so close I can hear and feel his panting breath. I am terrrified now. Adrenaline is surging through my body. I am in flight mode. In a flash all I could imagine was that this is how Kathrine Switzer must have felt when she was chased down at the Boston Marathon. While attending college, Switzer entered and completed the race in 1967, five years before women were officially allowed to compete in it. She bravely fought off a Race Director who attempted to throw her off the course. She had several male friends who served as body guards and helped her fight off her attackers. Where is a Bodyguard when you need one?
Thats where Aretha came into play for me. I started hearing her lyrics in my head, R-E-S-P-E-C-T! And I told Ari hang on, we are running for our life away from this junkyard dog. Ari laughed and yelled faster Mom, faster. Just a little bit, just a little bit!!!! My Legs magically began to glide effortlessly like I was an olympic runner going for the Gold Medal. We kept going until I could no longer hear or see Angry man on our tail. I think we covered the next three miles on record pace. Thanks for the song and thanks for the respect Aretha.
Wishing you Miles of Smiles~Team Ari