I don't consider myself a brave person. I didn't learn to ride a bike until 7th grade and have never jumped off of a swimming pool diving board. My brother-in-law had to teach me to strike a match when I was in high school because I was afraid of holding fire that close to my hand. It took me 4 years to muster up the courage to leave everything in Oklahoma for photography school and as much as I want a tattoo, I can't because of pain (and a mild case of indecision.) So this is all why when my mom emailed me yesterday with the following, I stopped and read it again, slowly:
"You do so many many things that are so brave of you.
I admire you so much for having such determination."
I almost didn't feel like she was talking to me. As if I was logged into the wrong email account, or she accidentally sent it to the wrong person. Brave people go to a foreign countries alone, eat cow eyeballs, and jump out of airplanes. That's brave. And even though I have come a long way from the young girl who couldn't hold a lit match, I still don't think I'm brave. For over a year now I have felt as if I am not enough, never doing enough or being enough. But after reading it a few times over and over, completely digesting the words, I realized Mom was right. I am brave.
Tomorrow I drive 12 hours to my homeland and on Sunday I will run more than I've ever run in my life with nearly 24,000 other strangers in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. There's a part of me that's terrified and doubting my physical ability to run that far. I've had two major Achilles tendon injuries in the last 12 months, which has greatly affected my training schedule. But mostly I can't stop thinking about 13.1 miles and what it will feel like. I can't stop thinking about the energy of OKC that morning, the cheering, and how amazing a burger and beer will taste afterwards. But mostly I keep thinking about the 500 people who were injured 18 years ago in the Murrah Federal Building Bombing, the 168 people who died, and their families that have had to wake up every morning without them. And lets not forget the innocent people recently affected in Boston. That's brave.
They are brave.
So on Sunday I will run for them. All of them. I will thank every lungful of air for my body, my feet, and for life. I will replace fear and doubt with bravery, and I will run.