Filed under: The Buffington Southern Experience | Tags: 26.2, Full Marathon, Horse Capital Marathon, Lexington Kentucky, Running
“Let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.” -Hebrews 12:1.
If you asked me how many times I said that verse to myself during my first full marathon on Saturday, I would tell you that I lost count. Through rain that fell like buckets of water that soaked my socks and underwear, across hills that spanned 45 horse farms, I am so proud to say that I crossed the Finish Line of a 26.2 mile race.
When I heard about the Horse Capital Marathon last year, I registered for the half marathon with hopes that I would be able to switch to the full at a later date. At the time, Ryan was on the kidney/pancreas waiting list, so not knowing if or when that phone call would come, it didn’t seem realistic to try and commit to training for anything above 13.1. So when Ryan had his successful transplant in October and returned to work in January, I realized that there was no reason why I couldn’t begin training for the full.
Preparing for a full marathon is no easy task, and mine involved an 18 week training plan that began on January 10th. There were certainly ups and downs to my training, including a two week break smack in the middle of the 18 weeks due to a slight stress fracture. However, after 446 training miles in the snow, ice, rain, sleet, humidity, wind, frigid temperatures, blazing sun, and any other weather that you can think of, 26.2 finally seemed possible.
Having a supportive husband and kids was a big part of my success as well. Most Saturdays I woke up extra early while everyone was sleeping in order to get my long runs out of the way. Weekday runs were usually done in the evenings, which was sometimes a little more difficult. There were times that Ryan would come home from work and I would go out the door to beat the darkness or get home in time for Lily’s dance class. One time, he even came home on his lunch break so that I could get my six mile run in for the day. Though they might not completely understand why I run, my family always supports me, and I love them for that. Knowing that they are always waiting at the Finish Line is such a huge motivation for me.
This race was nothing short of challenging. With frequent downpours and numerous hills, this wasn’t about finishing in a certain amount of time. It was simply about finishing. A friend of mine pinned a “First Marathon” sign on my back, and that little sign attracted so many words of encouragement from my fellow runners on the course. There were runners who patted me on the back and clapped for me, runners who said “hey it’s my first one too, good luck!”, runners who chose to run alongside of me and offer support, and even runners who said “wow, you picked one heck of a course for your first marathon.” It was clear we were all on that course together, and knowing that we were all fighting for the same thing made each of us push ourselves and each other so that we could achieve our goals.
Outside of becoming a mother, this has been my biggest accomplishment to date. Nothing compares to crossing the Finish Line of a full marathon. For me, that Finish Line was symbolic of so many different things, especially when I think about everything my family has been through over the past year. Throughout those 26.2 miles, I couldn’t help but think about how emotionally similar those miles were to Ryan’s transplant journey. There were uphill battles. There was an element of the unknown. There were feelings of frustration, impatience, determination, fear, and of course, victory.
Turning a corner on Saturday and seeing the Horse Capital Marathon Finish Line come into my view, I couldn’t help but get emotional. There was a time that I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to do this, and even if I did, I wondered, would Ryan be there to witness it? Knowing that he was there, healthy, and I was just steps away from reaching the Finish Line, was one of the best, most grateful moments of my life.
Enter Sunday. I woke up very sore, and saw this post on the Horse Capital Marathon’s Facebook Page, from Bob Baney, friend and Horse Capital Marathon Race Director:
“MEGAN WILLIAMS IS A SURVIVOR OF OF THE BOSTON MARATHON BOMBINGS…
Some of you may have met her at our Friday expo. In 2013 after finishing her 7th Boston Marathon she was standing near the finish line when those horrific bombs went off. She was hit by the shrapnel and since that time has had 7 surgeries and still has one to go. She hadn’t run a marathon since and her doctor gave her clearance to run one in the spring. She selected the Horse Capital because of her love of horses. Yesterday she had difficulty getting to Fasig Tipton for our inaugural race so she never started. She hung around and I visited her after the race. I told her I wasn’t sending her home until she completed what she came to do. So on this beautiful Sunday morning she set off from our starting line at 7:37am with her own personal hydration volunteer (me). She’s at mile 3 and we’ve already seen 34 horses. She is an inspiration. More photos and updates to come.”
Runners immediately began commenting words of encouragement for Megan on that post. In no time at all, plans were made to go cheer Megan on at the Finish Line. About 50 supporters showed up with signs, water, bananas, and flowers to give to Megan when she finished running. We wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to be there for her.
My eyes were filled with tears watching Megan approach the Finish Line. Cheers erupted from the crowd as she came down that final stretch with a big smile on her face. What an inspiring moment, and what a truly amazing running community we have here in Lexington.
It was a true honor to hug this beautiful, strong, determined woman. I’m so proud to say that we earned the same medal. It will forever hold extra special meaning because of Megan.
Thank you, Horse Capital Marathon, for giving me the opportunity to be part of such an inspirational race. This experience was more than I ever could have imagined, and went way beyond simply accomplishing a personal goal. As a first-time Marathoner and member of our Lexington running community, I truly have never been more proud to call myself a runner.
You all know him as a Black Belt in Taekwondo, but Rydan recently became a lacrosse player as well. This was a sport that he’s wanted to play for awhile, and now seemed like a good time to try something new. His elementary school has a lacrosse team, which many of his friends play on, so Rydan was anxious to join the team.
Lacrosse isn’t a sport that Ryan or I know anything about, nor was it a sport that was played where we grew up in Pennsylvania. It’s been pretty cool to for us to watch Rydan embrace something so new to him, and something that’s so unfamiliar to us. I love that he is always so eager to learn.
The Eagles had two games this past weekend, and we couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather.
The boys won their first game yesterday, and it was quite exciting to watch their excitement. GO EAGLES!
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Just yesterday, I hosted a K3 Kreations Home Party, and it was a big success. Orders can still be placed through the end of today, and shipping is available for out-of-state customers.
If you’re looking for a unique, custom-made gift for Mother’s Day, graduation, birthday, wedding, teacher, new baby, or something for a summer vacation, I encourage you to check out the wide selection of products that K3 Kreations offers. The possibilities are endless when it comes to color options and monogramming styles. To place an order through my home party, please contact me via email (email@example.com), text or Facebook message.
In the meantime, here are just a few items by K3 Kreations:
Filed under: The Buffington Southern Experience | Tags: Belt Test, Board Breaks, First Degree Black Belt, Taekwondo
On Saturday, Rydan tested for his Senior First Degree Black Belt. This is the first time he tested since October 11, 2014, the day that Ryan had his transplant. On that day we cheered for Rydan from the hospital in Cincinnati as he tested for his First Degree Black Belt (and passed).
Since then, Rydan has taken his time perfecting his form and preparing for his next belt test. He actually chose not to test at the past two belt tests because he didn’t feel quite ready. When it comes to Taekwondo, Ryan and I tend to sit back and let Rydan make his own decisions about testing. This obviously isn’t something that neither of us know much about, so therefore we can’t help him a whole lot outside of offering our encouragement. That alone says something about the way that Rydan has committed to Taekwondo, as well as the things that he has accomplished over the past three years that he’s spent at Sid Nelson’s Taekwondo America.
Early last week, Rydan still wasn’t sure if he wanted to test for his Senior First Degree Black Belt. Like other tests, this one would consist of correctly doing his form and sparring. This time, however, he was required to do three board breaks – an elbow strike, side kick, and a spinning side kick. The spinning side kick is a new break for him, and he’d been struggling with it for awhile. Up until this point, Rydan had never failed a belt test, and we could see that fear of failure having an effect on his decision to test or not. We had daily conversations with him about his belt test, and told him that we would support his decision either way. By the middle of the week, he asked if he could get some extra practice on the spinning side kick with Mr. Nelson, so that’s exactly what we did, and it seemed to boost Rydan’s confidence.
As a parent, this was a tough one for me. In no way did I want Rydan to hold himself back simply because he was afraid of failing, but I also didn’t want him to feel pressured into doing something that he wasn’t ready to do. His Taekwondo journey is something that is all his. He’s earned every new belt through practice, commitment, and perseverance. So, when he asked for extra practice, I trusted that that’s what he needed.
By Saturday, he seemed ready to go. He was the only Junior First Degree Black Belt testing that day, so he would be last to test in his group. I watched him sit patiently, glancing at me every few minutes at which point we’d exchange a thumbs up or a quick smile. When it was his turn, he did his form and was not asked to do it a second time, which is always a good sign.
He also sparred well.
And then he sat down again to wait patiently until it was his turn to break boards. This is always the nerve-wracking part for most parents. Students can correctly do their form and spar well, but if they don’t break their boards, they don’t pass their test. We watched Rydan cheer on his fellow students, never showing any signs of nerves.
At last it was his turn to break. His fellow students gathered around and cheered for him the way he had done for them. On his first attempt (students are given three tries at each break), he easily broke through the wood with his elbow strike.
His side kick was no different, first try.
It all came down to his spinning side kick. The room fell quiet, and I could feel my hands shaking as I tried to hold my phone steady to video him. He missed his first attempt. Still, he showed zero signs of panic. He simply set up again for his second attempt, but his aim was too high and his foot bounced right off of the board. Still, not a single sign of panic or hesitation from him. He looked so determined as he set himself up for his third and final attempt. When I heard the sound of the wood snapping in half, the room erupted with cheers.
“I knew I’d get it on the third try, Mom.” That’s what he said to me afterwards. The belief he has in himself at just ten years old is so strong, and in that moment it was really inspiring.
The awards ceremony will take place on Wednesday, so that’s when we’ll know official results.
There are no words for how proud I am of Rydan, not just for the way he persevered through that last break, but for the way he handled himself that day, and the way he approaches Taekwondo. There are so many amazing character traits that Rydan has gained through this sport, and they’re ones that will help carry him through life’s trials and successes – courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and an indomitable spirit. Students learn those words, as well as their meanings, as soon as they begin TKD classes, and they recite them often. The smiling face you see below is worn by a young man who applies those character traits in and outside of the karate studio, and I couldn’t be any prouder of him. My not so little marshmallow is really growing up, and it’s such a cool thing to watch him make his way through life every day.
Mark your calendar! This Thursday, April 17th is National Donate Life Blue & Green Day. During this day, everyone is encouraged to wear blue and green to promote the success of organ, eye and tissue transplantation, and to emphasize the extreme need for more registered donors.
We know first hand how miraculous transplantation can be, and we live with grateful hearts every single day for the gift that Ryan has received. However, over 123,000 men, women and children are still awaiting organ transplants in the United States. The need for organs and tissue is significantly greater than the number available for transplantation. Every 10 minutes, another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list. Each day, an average of 21 people die because an organ was not available for transplant.
Sadly, 90 percent of Americans say that they support organ donation, but only 30 percent know the essential steps to become a donor. Our challenge to you on National Blue & Green Day is to not just wear blue and green, but to tell everyone you see on Thursday why you are wearing those colors. Tell them you support organ donation. Tell them about Ryan’s story. Most importantly, tell them how they, too, can offer hope to those waiting, simply by becoming a registered donor. Refer them to http://www.donatelife.net/register-now.
This is what Easter looks like when your grandparents live in Pennsylvania.
Pappy and Nana Buffington know exactly how to make Rydan and Lily smile… cash and Orange Leaf gift cards.
Papoose always keeps them well-dressed, and supplied with their favorite Hershey’s treats.
Lola always surprises them with something they’ve really wanted… a Hello Kitty watch for Lily…
…and Jimmy & Jey Uso WWE action figures for Rydan (along with lots of sweet treats for both of them).
The Easter Bunny brought Rydan a Dragonball Z Xbox360 game, and Lalaloopsy Stretchy Hair for Lily (and more sweet treats).
He also brought them each a new bathing suit…
…and lots of fun beach toys to play with when we go on vacation in July.
Overall, it was a very Happy Easter for these two bunnies. We hope all of our readers had a wonderful holiday too!