So I’ve already written about The Race, and I thought I’d share a little about what happened the Saturday leading up to the big day.
Saturday morning before the marathon, I joined up with Run, Selfie, Repeat’s shakeout run. I “knew” a whole bunch of We Run Social and IG people attending and I was excited to finally meet some social media friends in person. It was a great turn out (i.e. a shit ton of people) so we broke out in mini groups; it was a perfect 2.5 mile fun run.
Saturday night was my charity’s pasta dinner. This was quite different than when I ran Chicago for the Ronald McDonald House. The V Foundation was more private and close knit which was really cool. The food was absolutely amazing but the biggest deal were the guest speakers.
Andy Katz from ESPN was the main speaker and he shared his story for why he has chosen to run for the Jimmy V Foundation the past few years. He talked a lot about how much more meaning a race has when you’re running for something other than yourself–which is a big reason why I think a lot of us do this (run for charity).
Then, he introduced his friend Seb Bellin. Seb was a professional basketball player turned successful businessman. He was in Brussels during the horrifying terrorist attack at the Brussels airport and very badly injured. Seb shared what helped him survive his near-death experience and his story brought the room to tears.
Seb almost died. But, less than a year after, here he was standing right in front of me. He related to us that while he’s never run a marathon, he can imagine that there are moments during the race where we felt like quitting. Where we felt the pain was too strong for us to keep going.
Seb recounted how there were many moments when he felt like that in the Brussels airport. But because he remained calm and in the moment, he allowed himself a chance to survive. He didn’t hope for the impossible–walking out of there; his legs had been severely damaged. Instead, he focused on what he could do: see, talk, and move his hands. He used his strengths to help find a way to get out and get help.
First, he was able to grab something to use as a tourniquet for one of his legs. Then, he pleaded for someone to put him on a luggage cart and take him outside. Once outside, he told the rescue officials arriving it was imperative they put him in an ambulance; he was losing blood fast and time was not in his favor.
He did all of this in unimaginable pain.
As he was speaking, I couldn’t help but think that running a marathon felt so trivial compared to the very near death experience he was sharing. I simply couldn’t imagine being as strong as he was in that situation (and I thanked God I had never been close.)
But I thought a lot about Seb when I ran NYC Marathon. I thought about how lucky I was to be able to run, to feel pain. And his words definitely helped me. His words helped me to embrace the pain–to accept it and find a way to push through it.
This is the video he shared to us that night. There are graphic scenes, but you can see/hear Seb recount the awful moments of that day and how he was able to survive.
The New York City Marathon is a race I’ll never forget for many reasons, and his story is one of them.
–What thoughts get you through tough moments in a race?