Monday, November 7, 2011

A Reflection. For Lisa Kelly.

On Friday, November 4th, 2011 I took this photo while walking to work. It was the day after Lisa, my friend/TNT participant/sparkplug-and-smiler, passed away.

Silver Lining

As a coach, it is my goal ... and really, my passion ... to get people to believe in themselves enough to attempt amazing feats. Marathons, ultramarathons, ironman events. 5K races for new runners. 10K races for athletes who thought 3 miles was their limit. It's a selfish indulgence for me to guide people as they take steps to change their lives.

But Lisa didn't need any of my coaching. She was already a warrior, an athlete, a daring doctor-triathlete-social-butterfly. I met Lisa probably four or five months ago at a brunch among friends. We knew each other from twitter, and through our friend Lori's generous offer to teach Lisa how to aquajog, the three of us and another mutual friend, Marquis, gathered together after the workout to dig into some good ol' vegan bacon and tofu-eggs. LA life for four daring non-vegans treated us well.

The table at the restaurant was not big enough to contain Lisa's smile. It was a miniature thrill to get the chance to finally meet a twitter friend in person. We bonded over talk of the Malibu triathlon, biking through Griffith Park, and the mundane task of aquajogging while recovering from injury - at the time, Lori's a pelvic fracture and Lisa's cancer. After that brunch, I knew Lisa would fit in well with our West Side Team in Training group. I may be biased, but I do believe there is something about the people from the West Side TNT team that stands out. Current participants and alumni alike - they have a giving nature and friendly disposition about them. I wasn't wrong about Lisa. A few weeks later, she's was there at the first practice of the season, ready to start her half-marathon journey.

As a coach, I enjoy being on the "giving" end of the relationship - to give my advice, guidance, time and experience to my participants. But with Lisa, I found myself more often than not on the "receiving" end. With such love and enthusiasm for her friends, for endurance events, and for new challenges, Lisa gave to me a continual fire from which to draw my own inspiration. Match her sense of adventure - her love for travel. Match her attitude - her appreciation for health and the ability to even be running. Match her generosity - her ability to connect with others on many levels.

It is always too soon when a friend or family member leaves this world and leave us all behind. There is an empty place at Coogies Restaurant on Sundays. There is an empty space in Group 4 where you would run. There is a silence in your online presence that screams to many of us. But as far as you have gone from us, Lisa, know that what still remains is that you will ALWAYS be in the Team.

If you would like to honor Lisa's memory and her efforts to complete the 2012 Walt Disney World Half Marathon, please make your donations to her fundraising website.