God Gave Me the Lucky 13’s.

I often question the timing of things that happen in my life. And, the longer I am alive, the more I believe that there are no coincidences and that everything in fact, does happen for a reason.

To name a few of the most recent and notable reflections, I question why did my mother have to pass away a mere two weeks before the biggest race of her life and the biggest race of mine? Why did my best friend of over ten years suddenly disappear from my life without any hesitation? Why did I open myself up to seemingly random friendships when I was [seemingly] perfectly fine on my own? 
Let me paint you a picture. Well, I can’t, really because I don’t quite remember how it all began and, honestly, it was hardly that long ago, in the great scheme of things. It was December of last year, as a matter of fact and it was cold. So cold that I couldn’t tell one person from the next in the sea of bundled up, rosy red faces in front of me on the first Saturday workout of MIT. How in the hell was I ever going to learn anyone’s name?! Oh well, I knew Duane – my friend and Coach, helping me to train for my first full Marathon – and I figured I didn’t really care that much about the rest at that exact moment in time. Running was mostly solitary for me, except for the miles I spent on the trails with Duane, and I rather preferred to keep it that way. The 13 minute pace group had grown to be large anyway and I didn’t like crowds. I didn’t needs friends, either, not since my best friend suddenly walked out of my life unable to understand the compromises I made in our friendship to train for and run what was supposed to be my first marathon.  
It was a long winter. A long, bitterly cold winter, and I don’t think I ever saw anyone’s face until the frost melted and spring was [hopefully] making an appearance (you never can tell in Central Ohio, winter could last forever or you could go right from snow to 100 degree heat). I knew my fellow 13’s by their voices, their cadence and the way they ran behind or in front of me. I could spot particular individuals a mile away – literally – just by their running form. To think they also had faces was almost absurd! It was like meeting everyone for the first time again when spring finally did arrive.

I got to know everyone – by what they looked like this time – and I found myself actually enjoying their company. I looked forward to Saturday group runs and added group runs to my weekly routine, sometimes two additional times a week. I started to feel like I was part of a team, besides 500 or more of my closest friends that I ran with every weekend on the trails. This was different, I felt like I was part of something and I wasn’t the only one. I started coaching with Duane in the spring (like I said, not that long ago) and the Lucky 13’s were born. I don’t exactly remember how, I just know we embraced our pace, our graceful mishaps and apparent constant stream of bad luck as only friends can do – laughed it off, helped each other up off the ground and kept right on running in spite of it all.

Pretty soon – people wanted to be like us. We were downright fun and didn’t take ourselves too seriously. Wasn’t that what running was about anyway? Our Saturday runs were filled with chatter about life, love, running, sports bras (sorry Duane!) and anything else you could imagine – in running, there are no secrets. My sister dropped back a pace group to join us and my mother aspired to run with us in the summer. But it didn’t matter who wanted to run with us. Being a Lucky 13 was a mindset, not only a pace. Faster, slower, runner, walker, all were – and still are! – welcome.
I felt myself trusting in my newfound friends. We exchanged phone numbers, started hanging our after work, on Saturday nights, and inviting each other to non-running events. Still, I was hesitant. Just like in past relationships, these people that I barely knew, could want something from me, I could not deliver and I could lose it all. Again.
And despite my fears, we became the best of friends. My week revolved around Saturday group runs. I looked forward to them, longed for them. It was the highlight of my week. People outside of my running life began to notice – my family and acquaintances. People asked me how many years we had known one another, how long we had trained together. It was hardly believable that we had only known each other for a few months. For the first time in my life, I was genuinely happy and I felt like I belonged.

Then, towards the end of April, my world turned upside down when my mother passed away unexpectedly while on a four mile training run at a park not far from where I grew up and where my father still lives. She ran a 13:30 pace that day.

The next few days were a blur for me. I barely slept, barely ate and didn’t run. Funeral plans were made in a whirlwind and before I knew what had happened, I was standing in front of the casket where my mother laid, receiving condolences from family and friends. My former best friend, who still lived in the area at that time, didn’t come to the funeral, although I silently searched for her.
But you know who did come? The Lucky 13’s. And in that moment, standing in the funeral home, I understood.
I understood why I all of a sudden met and made more friends than I had ever had in my life. Real friends, who cared about me and what was happening.
I understood why I lost my best friend from childhood, with her; I would not have met them. The people who loved me for who I am.
I understood why it was a mere 4 months prior to my mother’s death; I developed relationships with other women that are now carrying me through.
I understood why, when the Lucky 13’s initiated and organized a way to memorialize my mother on the day of her goal race through special bibs and local TV coverage, why they had been a part of her life too.

I understood why I had to run Pittsburgh, my very first marathon, without my mother to cheer me on – because the Lucky 13’s were each there to run a stretch with me. I was never alone.

I suddenly understood that the Lucky 13’s had been literally plopped into the center of my life, with no way to avoid them, precisely before the time in my life when I needed them the most. Just moments before I faced the toughest, hardest, most horrible event I have faced in my adult life.
Tell me there are no such things as coincidences. Tell me that there was not a reason we met when, where and how we did in December.
Tell me that, knowing the 13’s, my mother does not know that I will be okay with them by my side.  
Tell me it was All. Just. Luck.
Tell me, and I will not believe you.
I heard this Blake Shelton song today, and it was almost blindingly powerful how quickly the Lucky 13’s came to mind. I pulled my car over on the side of the road and wept.
Here’s to you, Lucky 13’s. God gave me you.

I’ve been a walking heartache
I’ve made a mess of me
The person that I’ve been lately
Ain’t who I wanna be

But you stay here right beside me
Watch as the storm goes through
And I need you

God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
For when I think I’ve lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you

There’s more here than what were seeing
A divine conspiracy
That you, an angel lovely
Could somehow fall for me
You’ll always be love’s great martyr
Ill be the flattered fool
And I need you

God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
For when I think I’ve lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you


On my own I’m only
Half of what I could be
I can’t do without you
We are stitched together
And what love has tethered
I pray we never undo

God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
For when I think I’ve lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
Gave me you
   

Until the next miler marker, 

Comments

  1. Sara what a beautiful post. I so agree with you that there are no coincidences…. sometimes we have to be patient and just listen and wait.

    I am happy for the blessings in your life. You inspire me and motivate me, with every post you write.

  2. Love you, Sara!!! When I stop and think about the close relationships that we have made in a short period of time there’s no other explanation to me except that God has brought us all together. I am so blessed and thankful for you and all the Lucky13s!!! I bet if we all would stop and think about it, there was a reason for all of us to come together at that time. I know there was for me. Love and Hugs!!!

  3. Suzanne Westenhofer says

    What a sweet post! You have some amazing friends that I am sure will be a part of your life and you a part of theirs for the rest of your lives! You’re a lucky woman to have the Lucky 13’s!

  4. runningperseverance says

    This post is incredible! what a special group of people! so inspiring, so much heart and so caring! thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Melissa McMullin says

    Wonderful post. I am so glad you have the Lucky 13s….they sound like amazing friends!

  6. And yet, you still manage to include a picture of me biting Mollie. I miss that.

  7. Well, I’m just sitting here balling my eyes out after reading this…I LOVE YOU! It’s not remotely coincidence that we came together as a group. We all are so different–careers, lives–and yet so bonded. That’s not luck. And, you are right…people envy our team and sit in awe of the connection we all have.

    We train together. We finish together. We do life together.

    And life can get messy, but we are in it together….to the finish line and beyond 🙂

    Love you, Sara!!!

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