"What distinguishes those of us at the starting line from those of us on the couch is that we learn through running to take what the days give us, what our body will allow us, and what our will can tolerate."
~ John Binghan
Today marks an important day for me. Today, not one single minute went by that I wasn't thankful or happy or overcome with serene calm.
I'm always amazed how the most ordinary days can hold so much significance. I looked around today and observed so many people in the throes of activity: work, conversation, and basic functions. Had they no idea? Were they totally unaware?
Today, seventeen years ago, I got a second chance.
Seventeen years ago, I lay in the Intensive Care Unit at Children's Hospital hooked to a heart-lung machine and sporting a fresh, six-inch incision down the front of my chest. I lay there unconscious, unresponsive, and unaware. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, I rose from my slumber only to be greeted by painful breathing, excessively chapped lips, and a most disturbing feeling of nausea. Try vomiting with a freshly split sternum and spread ribs. It's not high up on my list of enjoyable adventures.
But, I overcame. I made it.
Five days later I was home, recovering well, and soaking up my new, prosthetic heart valve.
Therefore, the city of Pittsburgh holds a special place in my heart. It always will. It's a spiritual place for me.
You see, I remember looking out the window of my Children's Hospital room and watching people walk and run and hang out on Forbes Avenue. I enjoyed (eye roll) daily 30 minute wheelchair outings, where I envied the people who ambled up and down the streets. Me? I enjoyed months of highly restricted bed rest. Well, bed rest and 30 minutes of wheelchair time each day. Swell. Just swell.
But, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh healed me. The doctors worked their magic and made me healthy.
Then, seven years later, I attended college in Pittsburgh. Those four years go down as some of the best in my entire life. Not only that, but I was given the ability and tools to do what I love most-- work with children. Teach them. Learn with them.
Duquesne University taught me. The University gave me my life's work.
As you can see, between healing me and teaching me, Pittsburgh holds a most special place in my heart. Last year, after I ran the Pittsburgh half-marathon, I knew I wanted more. With each tired step, I thought of how I needed to conquer that city, yet at the same time "thank" it. I knew I had to make the next leap and climb the bigger mountain.
So, today, on the seventeenth anniversary of my open heart surgery, I signed up to run the Pittsburgh Marathon,all 26.2 miles.
We only get one spin on the merry-go-round of life.
Make it a most amazing spin.