A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves – a special kind of double. ~Toni Morrison
“Ha! how many times can this change??? Although, I think we have it now. I really hope that I will be running/ walking with you for that 6.5 miles so that we can be together- but if not, I know you will kill it!!!!” Charlotte’s email to me about a month before the race.
Well, we did it. We completed the 2013 Ulman Fund Half Full Triathlon. What started out as Charlotte and I competing individually turned into a team relay, with my client Michele swimming 0.9 miles, my brother-in-law Ricky biking 25 miles and my sister Charlotte and I running 6.5 miles. Yes, I said running. Not walking. Not intervals (walk/run). Running….about a 10:00 minute mile pace or so the whole time. Seriously. If you don’t know Charlotte’s story, you can read about it here, here and here. One word to describe my sister. Determined.
Our race was on Sunday, October 6. Four days prior, Charlotte was at Kaiser for her long chemo treatment. 9:30am to about 2:00pm. The day before the race, she was lying on my parent’s couch, too tired to talk, to move, to eat. This morning, at 6am, we are all at Centennial Park about to complete a triathlon.
By 6:45 am, we were walking to the start of the race. At 7:00 am, we are listening to the National Anthem. At 7:15, the first waves enter the lake for the swim. We are laughing with Michele, excited to see her off. Around 7:50am, she enters the water and is off like a flash! We shoot some video, take a few pictures and then we hurry up to the transition area. 20 minutes later, Michele is running into the transition area and Ricky is off! Charlotte and I congratulate Michele and start warming up. We have no idea when Rick will make it in but we are thinking between 9:30-9:45.
Sure enough, around 9:45, Ricky bikes in to the transition area. We are nowhere near him because I have now noticed that my driver’s license is missing and most likely I have dropped it near the porta potties. ;( Michele goes in search of my license and right then, Rick comes in. Charlotte and I dash over to him. He shoves the timing chip into my hand. I strap it around my ankle and Charlotte and I head out of the transition area, through the banner and down the hill to the lake. As we begin our run, I know that this is definitely not the same Charlotte who ran with me in the Baltimore Women’s Classic. I can hear her breathing, trying to keep her breath steady. She is slower, pacing herself. But…she is running. She is really running.
And she doesn’t stop. Up Gatorade hill. Around the lake. On to Font Hill Road. On to Centennial Lane. We pass mile 3. We pass mile 4. “I have never run more than 4 miles,” Charlotte says to me as we approach mile 5. “Well, today you will run over 6 miles,” I say. I start to cry, quietly. I work to catch my breath because I am starting to get choked up. Charlotte is breathing heavily beside me but she keeps on running. “Go Charlotte!” people scream from the sidelines. “Way to go Charlotte!” Everyone is cheering. Everyone is celebrating. I am running with a true champion.
As we turn into the park, I can hear the announcer and the music at the finish line. “Come on Shoo-shoo,” I say. “Let’s finish this.” I start to cry again (thankfully I am wearing sunglasses) and quickly calm myself down. As we come up to the finish line, my mom is there to cheer us on. Jack, my nephew and Charlotte’s son is there as is my husband, Diego, Ricky and Michele.
We hear other people shouting our names as we cross the finish line, in just over one hour. We did it. Charlotte did it. I don’t know too many people who could run 6.5 miles in an hour and are NOT going through chemotherapy. I truly believe that if Charlotte had run this race the way she ran the BWC in June, before her Stage IV diagnosis, before her chemo treatments, we would have finished in 50 minutes. Easy.
Charlotte shows me what it means to live your life every single day. Because of her, I can do anything. Because of her, I am a better person. Because of her, I cherish every single day of my life now. I take nothing for granted. I don’t worry about stupid things. I surround myself with good, honest, hard working people. I smile and laugh – ALOT. I get angry sometimes, but I let things go more easily than before. I know who I am because of my sister. And each day she gets stronger, I get stronger. Her fight is my fight. And we are in this together until the end.
This is a wonderful tribute to Charlotte and a moving example of who you are, too. You are both champions. Charlotte, for her beautiful daring and courage. You, for your capacity to embrace reality and honor it with it in the most loving way.
Thank you Jan. Thank you for your desire to become stronger, more powerful, more….YOU. And thank you for becoming a part of our Fivex3 Family. 😉