It's funny when you take a moment to look back at the last year of your life. What were you doing a year ago on this day? Do you ever ask yourself that question? I don't look back very often, but every once in awhile I do because I think it's important to gain some perspective about where you were, what you were going through and how you may have thought you would be standing somewhere COMPLETELY different than where you are actually standing one year later.
Last year, I had come off a series of bad races and finally had put one together at Rev 3 Cedar Point, breaking the 10 hour mark in an 140 mile race for the first time. I was training for Ironman Arizona and hoping that I was starting to find my groove again and actually was SUPPOSED to be doing this professional triathlon thing! There was a lot of doubt and even a bit of depression over the summer last year in thinking maybe I was on the wrong path and that I should be headed another way.
Then on December 17, 2012 it all started again. New year of training, fresh start and the possibilities were endless. That was almost 10 full months ago that I started training for this year, this race, tomorrow. I didn't know it was in the cards at the time, I just put my head down, got the worked done and stayed positive. I never stopped believing that it was possible and I think that's about 90% of why I am standing on the start line tomorrow with the best 35 women in the world at this distance.
Our mind has an incredible power over where we are and where we will be in the future. I believe that with all my heart and soul. All you have to do is look around to see amazing stories of people overcoming things that seemed completely insurmountable to realize their mind was the key that unlocked the door to it being possible.
When I think of the impossible becoming possible, I think of one person, Christina Schuliger.
My very good friend Janine (her Mother) has been such an integral part of my life in so many ways. We've traveled together to Aruba, trained together, swam together, laughed together and cried together. There were times so dark I thought I couldn't go on, and Janine was there to hold a hand, hug me and listen.
In 2010, something so seemly strange happened that at times I thought I was dreaming when Janine spoke to me about it. Her Daughter, Christina, who was just starting her senior year of high school at the time, was diagnosed with a large brain tumor in her brain stem. Within days she was in brain surgery removing this tumor the size of a baseball and spent the next four months in a rehab institute. She didn't speak for over six weeks and needed to relearn many skills from sitting up in bed to eventually walking vs. using a wheelchair. For the next 20 months she re-learned how to live her life. While other kids were talking about senior prom and where they would go to college Christina was putting faith and trust in her doctors, nurses, family and friends to help her along this pain-staking journey of getting some sense of normalcy in her life again. Just even trying to wrap my mind around what this young girl endured during that time, and how frustrating it must have been at times, feels semi-impossible.
Right there with her at all times was her two older sisters, Brienne & Anna, along with Janine and her husband Brian. If there is anyone I would love to emulate as a Mother someday (besides my Mom of course - love you Mom!) it's Janine. Her family is everything to her and she puts everything else aside to make sure they are the priority.
Christina's entire journey is documented on the Caring Bridge site that Janine started at that time and reading it was even difficult for me at times to see what they were all going through, but I never stopped reading or praying for Christina to make it to a 100% full recovery.
While she was going through all this she never stopped thinking about others and even started the Christina Schuliger Mission Foundation which would allow her to help the children of Haiti who are orphaned and were in desperate need of clothing, food and someone to encourage them.
This past December, and again in June, Christina traveled there to complete the work she felt called to do in this country. Here's a great video about it on CBS News.
Just when we thought she was out of the woods, this year the tumor started growing again and Christina went back into a treatment program, but this time it would mean moving to the best facility for specialty radiation and that would be moving to Indiana for eight weeks. What did they do, Janine and Christina picked up and moved for the summer. It's been hard on her, but we pray that she is now in remission for good and that she can once again regain her strength.
Kyle and I think about her and the whole Schuliger family often and I know that this race, the biggest of the year, has to be about more than about me.
Any fear or apprehensions I might have are nothing compared to what this girl has faced at such a young age. She's simply the perfect example of this quote:
Change your thoughts and you can change your world. -- Norman Vincent Peale
She's changed my world, and the world of so many with her courage, heart and belief that this is only the beginning. With that said, tomorrow is all about her! I promise to use tomorrow to honor your soul and spirit all day long Christina! You are such an inspiration to me and when I grow up, I want to be JUST like you. Your life is a gift from God and a blessing to my life. Hopefully, you know how many people you've inspired just like me to want to be less self involved and to believe that anything is possible. No getting frustrated or negative for me tomorrow! I'm going to smile all day long like it's my job! I've gotten a big gift too and this is it. I'm in it right now! Living it! I won't forget that for a second!
If you have a moment, be sure to watch this video that her older sister, Anna, made for her sister as part of a senior college project:
Dear Christina (posts from CaringBridge) from Anna Schuliger on Vimeo.
I only have a small thing to do tomorrow, just do something I love all day long! Not any final places or times could take away from how awesome it is going to be good or bad! It's not even about that! It's about me doing my absolute best and believing I am right where I am supposed to be! Thanks for reminding me of that Christina. It's easy to get caught up in all the other "stuff" but that's what it's really about!! It's only the beginning my dear! You have so much left to do in this crazy, silly, awesome, amazing life!!
See you all on the other side of 140.6!! Thanks for your support, for following my little piece of life and for your prayers. Please pray for safety as that is always my #1 - finish safely!!
“with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26)