A really special thing happened at work last week. On Tuesday, I was busying myself with tasks at the store, when I heard a voice on the other side of the wall. I smiled and immediately walked around the corner. “I knew I recognized that voice!” I said, as Teri and I quickly crossed the floor towards each other and met in a hug.
“I was just about to see if you were here,” she said.
I helped Teri with shoes, called in a pair from one of the other stores and somewhere in the midst of our exchange, I exclaimed, “Hey, where’s my book!?”
“I just dropped some off! That’s why I’m here,” she responded. “But, hang on. Let me get you one out of the car.”
This is my thank you letter to my friend…
On Tuesday you made my day when you gave me a copy of your book Powered By Hope. On Wednesday, I started reading it. On Thursday, I finished it. I would have finished it quicker, but ya know, I have three young children and they keep asking to eat. There is also the small matter of work and I’m probably not supposed to read for leisure while I’m on the clock. I’m not positive but I’m guessing they frown on that. At any rate, I wanted to write you a note of thanks.
Thank you. Not just for the book, but for telling your story. Thank you for refusing to give up and for continuing to shine your light. Thank you for taking me, for taking everyone who reads this book, on the journey with you.
It is no surprise that I was drawn to you when I met you a couple years ago. Anyone who has ever met you, however brief an encounter, can’t help but want to remain in the room with you. In your inscription you mentioned the time we spoke in the lobby at church. I remember that night so clearly. After crying my eyes out through the entire service because of the struggles in my own life (my “cancer” as you would say), I didn’t want to stop talking to you. But when I finally left the building, I was smiling and I distinctly remember thinking, it’s going to be ok. Regardless of how this goes, it’s going to be ok in the end. You always have that effect on me, on everyone. You are the personification of hope.
As I read your story, I found the parallels of our endurance addiction rather humorous. When I read about your first marathon in 2002, I almost picked up the phone to text you. I thought of how I took to those very same streets in Chicago just the year before for my first marathon, and finished in just over 4 ½ hours…only minutes behind your initial marathon time. And the disastrous story of your first triathlon sounds more than just a little familiar. I swam all of twice before I hopped in the waters of Lake St. Louis a couple years ago. The big difference being you had already mastered that skill, I was just scared and I hadn’t learned to ask for help. Then I jumped on an antiquated Trek, (my shifters were on the down tube, seriously.) On a non-athletic note, just like you, I was at one time a self-declared non-hugger/non-crier. But again that was all based on fear. Fear of exposing my own vulnerability. Fear of letting anyone see who I really am.
While I learned the details of your story, I cried at least a thousand tears. Because the people you speak of, your family and friends, are not just characters in a story, they are real people with real emotions. When I read of Kati’s reaction to the news, I cried for the girl I had helped with shoes last summer. When I read about your mom Laverne crying as she sat between you and JoAnn at chemo, I thought of the sweet, vivacious, white haired lady that came into my store just a few weeks ago. I loved her immediately. Helping Teri’s mom is like helping a celebrity.
I remembered last summer, sitting on the floor of FLEET FEET as Kati tried on shoes. I mentioned that some friends were trying to convince me to go with them to volunteer at Ironman Arizona so that we could register for 2014. I scoffed at the idea. How in the world could a working, single mom find time to train for an Ironman? But I remember you saying, “Just think about it.” And I knew at that instant it was a done deal. Show me where to sign on the dotted line, because it is impossible to say the words “I can’t” to Teri Griege. If Teri can do it, well then you better believe I can give it a try.
I loved what Mimi said in her Caringbridge entry…”you must be scared before you can be courageous.” When I ran into you at church, and when I began the journey of triathlon, I was still in the stages of admitting my fears and trying to find my courage. You say throughout the book, there are no coincidences. I don’t think it was a coincidence that I met you in FLEET FEET. It’s not a coincident that our second meeting was at church. And it’s not a coincidence that I saw you shortly after crossing the finish line of my very first triathlon.
I also don’t believe that it’s a coincidence that I have joined on as a part of your army, nor that you are a part of mine. I won’t compare my struggles to yours, it’s not even a contest. My struggles don’t make me question my own mortality. But they did, for many years, make me deny who I am, which as you are well aware can also be quite devastating. But from that time I met you at church, I have felt that you are cheering me on every step of the way to becoming who I truly am.
Triathlons have taught me so much about myself. I’ve learned that the things in life that scare me, won’t drown me, unless I let them. I’ve learned that I hold the power to excel at things I’ve never even tried, if I set my inadequacies and fears aside and apply myself with dedication, perseverance and passion. And I’ve learned that there are things in life that bring me joy and those are the things I’m going to focus on in the journey to find my courage.
A couple weeks ago, I was out for a long run and I hurt my back. I was terrified that it was so bad it might take me out of the game this year, take away my chance at Ironman Arizona. I lay in bed that night, crying and praying, “God, please don’t take this away from me.” The thing I was once scared to try, I am now afraid to lose.
Teri, you are literally, the reason I agreed to give Ironman Arizona a go. I don’t ever want to take for granted the gift I have been given. I don’t ever want to stop stepping outside of my comfort zone. And like you, I want to inspire others to do the same. Now that I’ve found my courage, I can honestly say, I can’t wait to hear those infamous words when I cross the finish line in Tempe on November 16.
Thank you, Teri, for your story. For your never quit attitude. For your joy. For your inspiration. For your encouragement. And especially, thank you for helping me find my courage. For that, I am forever grateful to you my friend.
Much love and gratitude,
Lindsey (aka-Rambling Runner Girl)
*Note: To preorder your copy of Teri’s book Powered By Hope: The Teri Griege Story written by Teri Griege with Amy Marxkors, visit: https://secure.mybookorders.com/Orderpage/1382
*Another note: I recently registered for Pedal the Cause to ride with Teri’s Team, Powered by Hope. Please join me in the fight against cancer at: http://stlouis.pedalthecause.org/riders_profile.jsp?MemberID=30211