Lolly found me. Four hours into my race with ten miles left to run — as my quads were spasming in Charlie-horse cramps and my groin muscles had me on the verge of tears — Lolly trotted up beside me. While we hobbled our broken bodies up the mountainous bay bridge that overlooked the Gulf of Mexico, this petit 68 year-old clad in purple positioned herself next to me and gave me a small, sideways hug. She introduced herself happily as “Lolly”, asked me what I had injured, and assured me that if she could finish the race, then so could I. As I fought back tears, I thanked Lolly for the company and at that moment, as I ran off in front of her, I knew that I had the mental strength and desire to cross the finish line, no matter how painfully broken, overheated, or exhausted my body felt. Everything changed for me after meeting Lolly. My last ten miles were excruciating and where quite a blur, but they were a determined blur and what isn’t blurry is how wonderful it felt crossing the finish line having given my absolute all, and then some.
Lolly’s smile and support empowered me. NEVER underestimate the power and influence that an encouraging word or action can have upon someone. Whether it is in an athletic venture, while trying to make a major lifestyle change, or in a dark period of someone’s life, what you say and do to support people very well might change their entire perspective. Most importantly, encouraging words can give someone, even a stranger, strength to continue that they never knew was possible. Lolly, thank you for reminding me of the power of the mind in refusing to give up, no matter the pain, and no matter the reason.