I am NOT a fast runner. In fact many seeing me running have complimented me on my fast walking! Nonetheless, for the past three years, Ceci (who is fast) and I have run marathons to raise awareness as well as money for the indigent people in Uganda and South Sudan. Our goal this year was to raise the $1,500 needed to drill and maintain another water well in Northern Uganda. Unfortunately, we were both beset with many complications and minor health problems. The six weeks prior to the marathon we were not able to do ANY significant training!
We both felt that it would be impractical and nearly impossible to complete this one, but we also recognized this was not about us; the run was all about the African people dear to our hearts. Besides, we agreed, no matter how challenging this one might be, it would be short-lived and of little significance compared to those people whose daily challenges are often life threatening simply because they have to drink polluted water. With a renewed determination to focus only on them, we re-committed to our challenge.
The weather that morning was going to be perfect, the excitement of nearly 7,000 runners gathered at the top of Snow Canyon was contagious, and we were pumped and ready to go. So we gave each other big hugs with our compact to “See you at the finish line!”
My problems began almost immediately. I frequently have IBS symptoms which requires frequent bathroom stops. By mile 10, I had already taken five bathroom breaks! Even though my running pace was surprisingly better than normal, all the bathroom breaks were a huge setback. Without adequate training my injured hip started crying out in pain early in the run, which meant frequent stops for icy hot treatments. Despite these setbacks, Brooks and my sister Joni were at key points to cheer us on, which was a HUGE positive reinforcement. Other than the pain, I felt terrific mentally as I continued to focus on my African friends.
Then it happened. Because of my previously torn glute, my left leg tends to “drag.” In a split second when exerting extra energy to increase my pace, I stubbed my left toe and went down in a face plant. First impression, “My nose is broken.” This happened in an area where there were people on the sideline who came running over to the rescue, trying to help me up. I couldn’t get up, not because of the injuries, but because the same leg now had severe muscle spasms! After someone helped massage those out, they said I needed medical attention. I told them “No, I’m finishing the race.” They said “Your face is covered in blood; we need to get you help.” I told them again, I was fine, as they cleaned the blood off my face. As I took off two people ran beside me for a while until they could see I was ok. My time was the worst ever, but I was thrilled to be able to complete the run. My biggest regret was that they cleaned the blood off my face; Seeing that might have contributed a few more dollars to our cause!
In the meantime, Ceci, who had been sick for over a week, was doing great. She was running a good pace. Then, suddenly her shoulder popped out of her socket! This has happened before and the pain is absolutely excruciating, not only while it is out but afterwards for a long time. She was in an area where there were not many spectators, but she saw an elderly gentleman standing on the side of the road, not cheering like most, but smiling. She felt as if she knew him from somewhere, although she wasn’t sure where. Ceci immediately went over to him crying and said, “Sir, can you please help me. My shoulder popped out. Can you try and put it back in for me?” (When we have been around her and that has happened, we have been clueless as to how to help her) This gentleman didn’t say a word, just went behind her, put his hands into her armpits and gently lifted the shoulder back into its socket! Just like that – in a couple seconds! He continued to smile, not saying a word, as she thanked him and continued running. She said the pain lasted for 5 or 10 minutes and then she felt ok. Ceci was able to finish in her best time ever!
The next day Ceci’s pain was mostly from her shoulder. Mine was my nose and bruising on my left side. We have now mostly recovered from those incidents and we both have profound gratitude for the tender mercies we received. Those tender mercies and the African examples of resilience and hope for a better future are what pulled us through. We hope you will consider even a small donation to bless some of our African friends with clean water.
~Pam (and Ceci)