My assigned mentee turned out to be an amazing woman who really embodied everything that this race represents. The race is partnered with the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund to raise money and awareness towards research on ovarian cancer. Turns out that the woman I was working with finished her chemotherapy treatment in February for this horrific disease and was ready to take back her body and her life. I was in awe of her and her determination and I saw first handed how strong she was. On our first session together at the swimming pool she swam 4 lengths and had to take a break (which was 3 more lengths than I was able to do when I started out in this sport!). She went back to the pool 3 days later and swam 8 lengths without taking a break and repeated that 6 times (swimming almost twice the distance she needed to cover in the race). Talk about tenacity. At that point I knew without a doubt that she would finish the race, and I saw a glimpse at how she must have tackled her illness and fought to survive. The most amazing thing wasn't that she trained and completed the race, to me the most telling and touching thing was that she didn't want to focus on being a survivor. She told me she just got lucky, somehow I know better, there is always luck involved, but she has a spirit that is fighter to the core.
I was able to answer questions and give tips on getting ready for the race and getting to the finish line but Liz mentored me more than I did her. Watching her 3 young kids, husband and friends who had all been with her throughout her 2 year battle cheer her on as she raced I saw that our sport is so much more than split times, fast equipment and beating others. It is about showing ourselves and others that our bodies and minds are strong. Seeing Liz cross the finish line with tears in her eyes was extremely moving and all I can say is SHEROX!
Thank you Liz for shining your light into my life!