Supposedly it was just going to be me and my sissy Claudia who were able to make it to our first Sunday training. We had committed to Ray last week that we would train every Sunday so there was really no way to back out. But I thought about it. Boy, did I think about it. I sent him a text to let him know that we should re-schedule because I didn’t want to waste his time with only two of us.
I explained to him everyone else’s justifications for not being able to join us, halfway hoping that he would have said, “Ok, I will see you guys next week.” Alas, there was no reprieve for me because within seconds his response was, “Ok….I’ll see the two of you tonight at 6:30pm.” I immediately began to sweat and it was only 10:44 in the morning!
As luck would have it, my sissy and I would not need to embark on this adventure alone. Suddenly, Linda was able to join us and she was bringing her daughter, Bri, along with us. Then, Alexandria (my daughter) decided to join us as well.
Everyone met at my house so we could carpool there. Linda was the first one there and she was already nervous. “He better not make us run, Lori, because I haven’t jogged in a long time,” she said.
“Don’t worry. He knows our fitness level and he is starting us off slowly; he’s going to teach us how to warm up, walk at a good pace, and cool down,” I said—trying to convince the two of us at the same time. Because if I were to be totally honest, at that point I had no idea what to expect and I was seriously hoping that we would just be sitting around some lake sharing stories about our motivation for joining this team.
A few minutes later my sissy, Claudia, arrived. After the hugs and kisses were exchanged, the first words out of her mouth were, “He better not make us run, Lor!” I could not believe that these ladies were so afraid of the workout, yet they arrived promptly in full workout gear and chilled water. Was it reverse psychology and they were using this fear to pump themselves (and me) up?
Nothing was going to hold us back…no fear of running was great enough to stop us from getting in the car and driving to meet Ray. Our walking army had reached 6 with the addition of Alexandria’s friend, Katie.
And we were off…This is where the fun began!
There were four of us in one car and my daughter was closely behind us with Katie as her passenger. As soon as we entered the freeway I knew that we had hit the point of no return; the next time the car would stop we would all be getting out beginning the first stage of our training. This is also the point where nerves kicked into overdrive.
What happened as we got off the freeway still has me laughing. First Linda begins to shout at me from the back seat how much she hates me. To be exact, her words were, “Lori, I can’t believe you f*cking got me into this mess. I hate you.” I laughed.
Then it was my sister’s turn. “Yeah, Lor, what the f**k were you thinking calling us out on Facebook?” I just kept laughing.
“If he makes us run, Lori, I am going to f*cking kill you,” strikes Linda. All the while I am cracking up and trying to keep my eyes on the road.
I had two grown women in the car threatening to kill me at the mere thought of having to run at the park on a lazy Sunday afternoon. My plan worked! I never wanted to do this alone and so I knew that I would have to call on my CORE to accompany me on this journey. I had no idea if we were going to jog, run, walk, or spit. All I knew was that I WAS NOT ALONE and these girls hated me for it. But still I laughed because there was nothing in the world that was going to stop us from meeting our goal that day!
We arrived at El Dorado Park and saw Ray standing off to the side; his cheeks were already pink from having put in a good run before we got there. I guess in hindsight he must have known that the workout he was going to guide us through was barely going to cause him to sweat.
Ray was surprised to see so many of us because he was only expecting my sissy and I to be there. He had pre-written some inspirational quotes/sayings to read to us along our path and after giving us a good old-fashioned warm up, he read us our first quote. He had these girls (and I, of course) at “hello.”
And then we were off like little ducks in a row. We walked by some beautiful scenery. There was a lake, some greenery that looked like wheat (but it surely was not), and a few parties scattered.
What must we have looked like to them? Let’s think about it…one man giving quiet orders on when to change walking leaders, five out-of-shape walkers who began to sweat before they even began to walk, and teenager who looked like she had no business hanging out with the rest of us because she is 93 pounds when her hair is freshly washed.
As a matter of fact, there was a song going on in my head as I was walking. Do you remember that song from Sesame Street that goes, “One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn’t belong, Can you tell which thing is not like the others by the time I finish my song?” Bri must have been what inspired this song many years ago even though she was not yet born.
Then I heard Ray’s voice say, “Ok, ladies, you see this straightaway? We are going to do a very light jog at your own pace to about…” I don’t even know what else he said because one look at Linda and Claudia and I knew I was dead. What the heck was Ray thinking? Didn’t he see us already huffing and puffing? Was the sweat rolling down our backs and onto the grass not enough of an indication that none of us came prepared to push ourselves to the point of yelling “mercy” at the last curve?
I put one foot in front of the other. I jogged. I jogged. I JOGGED! He never left my side. Ray was beside me the entire time and kept reminding me that I didn’t need to jog fast. He slowed me down when I tried to go faster by saying, “Slow down. Slow and steady.”
I jogged the entire length he had asked us to do! It was emotionally overwhelming. Oh, the possibilities that just opened up! I felt like I was flying. I know that in reality I was probably doing more of a shuffle, but he never made me believe that I was going too slowly to keep up with the rest of the girls.
We surprised ourselves when our bodies reacted to the jog. No one passed out. No one’s legs gave out. No one had a heart attack. There was a certain sense of badassedness that came along with the trot, one that can only be felt by achieving the insurmountable. And for this group of ill-prepared guerilleras, the thought of a jog was insurmountable in our minds.
We finished the last lap as the park was closing up. Parties were packing up their coolers, cars were beginning to pass us up on their way out, and we could see our final destination right around the bend. Everyone thought we were done once we saw our cars, but Ray threw us for a loop when he asked me to lead the final jog to a faraway sign. And guess what? Our group did it. We finished our task and ended our workout at the highest peak one could imagine…together.
As each one of us did our final stretches before leaving the park, a man drives towards us and stops when he reaches us. He had two golden retrievers in his car and his windows rolled down. Here it comes, I thought. Here is the first heckler who comes by to laugh at us. I was so wrong. Instead, he says to us, “Hey everyone, great job. Keep up the good work!” And there go my tears creeping up on me. This man who owed us nothing, who could have just kept going along his merry way believed enough in our success and our journey to stop and motivate us.
This was a very defining moment for me personally. Every now and then on this journey I am met with signs that tell me I am on the right path. They usually happen when I am alone and I sometimes think that I am imagining them. But this time the sign was to be shared with the rest of the army. And if we had any doubt in our ability to succeed alone or collectively, it went out the window as those words of motivation were so selflessly shared with us.
The ride home was much different than the ride to our workout. Gone were the expletives threatening my existence for signing them up for this 10k. I heard positive remarks. I heard laughter. I heard “Thank you for inviting me today.” I heard the collective sigh as we quickly reflected on the fact that we were still alive after having endured a challenge that no one believed they were ready for.
This army is growing daily.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the support system that team L@s Muert@s would achieve. I am both honored and humbled with the motivational messages that we receive daily from our families and from our Facebook friends.
I’m still in awe at the fact that this healthy movement revolution began because my pride wouldn’t allow me turn down a challenge—even though I knew that accepting it would throw me into unchartered and frightening territory.