I am going to be spending the rest of the day and tomorrow telling myself “I think I can”.  You see, I have the Heart Mini Half Marathon tomorrow and even though I am in the best shape I’ve been in a long time, I haven’t logged a ton of miles.  I am anxious to see how my training in the last six months will have helped or hindered me in getting to the finish line.  This won’t be a personal record (PR), it may be the worst finishing time I have ever clocked.  I wasn’t going to sit this race out; actually doing poorly will light a fire that I will need to get my rear moving for the Flying Pig Half Marathon in May.  Heart Mini is also for a great cause, it raises money for the Heart Association.  I love races and I love race expos and everyone at the expo has a story and usually it is an inspiring one.  There is always someone far worse off than you in a race.

Today was the Heart Mini Expo.  If you have never been to a race expo, it is a bunch of vendors selling their wares and giving away free stuff.  If you are a Cincinnati person, you know that if you get to the expo SUPER early (before it really starts) that you can get running shoes for over half off.  So, I woke both kids up early, promised them doughnuts (not heart healthy, but a bribe was needed and they have spent the rest of the afternoon riding their bikes) and headed out the door to the expo.  Today the jogging stroller was a must for shopping purchases and for overly cranky kids.  We got the shoes, made a friend or two at that booth (ok, my kids befriend everyone) and shopped the deals.  When I was browsing the running clothes (yes, we know I don’t need anymore and I didn’t buy any even though they were 80% off), I heard a lady say she wasn’t running this year.  The other woman whom she clearly knew from a running group asked why, and the non-runner said because my daughter is running her first mini and I want to be able to be there and cheer for her.  Emotional, I am not, but that brought a tear to my eyes.  I love good stories of kids running and parents cheering them on.  The best race that I have ever been part of, was when my son crossed the finish of his first one mile race and work his medal for the next month.   My six year old, not to be outdone told the lady “I’m running too and so is my mom and she is going to rock”.  I started to laugh and explain that I am not going to rock, I hope I survive and I hope to be back to the start line in time to watch him “rock” his 2k race.  Another lady chimed in to tell us that she was a walking coach but had decided to run the half since it was the inaugural event and asked that we pray for her.  With a chuckle, I told her I find myself praying a lot the times before the race and I would add her to my list that included: no rain, cool temps and me seeing the finish line. We played at the expo and even walked thru the world’s only and biggest giant inflatable heart.  It was super cool and very informative.  It even showed a heart attack and a bypass.  So, we had a little education on a Saturday morning too.

Heart Mini also has a huge host of heart survivors and teams that honor or are in memory of those who suffered from heart disease.  Survivors wear red caps, so you are well aware that you have just been passed by someone who has had a heart “issue”(now let’s talk about a bummer of a moment, ha ha).  Heart disease doesn’t discriminate in age or gender.  My friends husband had quintuple (yes, that is 5) bypass in August, he is in his forties.  My nephew was born with a heart defect; he had open heart surgery at six months old.  Another friend’s mom who was in her 40’s found a congenital valve defect, the same defect that killed her brother years before.  My list goes on and on and I am pretty certain that each of you would have a similiar story to tell.  Tomorrow, Jake (my six year old) and I will be running to honor a host of heart survivors like Sophia’s dad, Amy’s mom, Brady and Connor’s pawpa, Great pawpa, Mrs. ‘Kenna, Joe T and the thousands of others who have heart problems.  We will be racing so that we can help raise awareness of heart disease and it’s impact on everyone.    I hope if you get a chance you will learn more about heart disease and your risk factors; it may save your life.  If you have a chance to participate in an event that raises heart health awareness, DO IT.

Tomorrow, I will go to the start line, pray for no rain, and check out all of the team shirts that honor heart survivors and victims (which will most likely make me cry at least once).  Then I will take a deep breath, embark upon 13.1 long miles and be thankful that I have a healthy heart and that I am instilling the importance of heart health to my kids.  Finally, for a little added motivation, I will think of this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBjR1-0GVkI) and realize the lengths that people will go to get to the finish line, so that they can honor others.  Have a great weekend and remember be healthy, be fit and don’t let anyone but you define who you are.