Gotcha---Green Jewel 50k

To be honest, I’m not really sure how I ended up at this race.  But, one thing I’ve learned is that unexpected things can have the most memorable results.  

Rog knows how I am at the start.  While he played Mayor--I swear, he’s the Kevin Bacon of the Ultra world--I stared at my shoes.

“Gimme 4 miles”, I said
“Gotcha” was his reply.


I flashed back to 13 years ago.  Sitting on an airport floor, and strangers had just placed a terrified and exhausted baby in my arms.

I had walked into the airport with a fully loaded diaper bag, and no baby.  I remember being  on the shuttle to the terminal, and a kindly lady asked Noah where he was going.  He said, “We have to get my baby sister, so we can share Mommy”.  

They told me not to cry.  They said culturally, it might appear that I was unhappy with the child.  I tried my hardest to comply, as I got my first glimpse of her being pushed in a stroller, down a hallway, very far away from me.

After an eternity.  There she was.  All the heartbreak...all the paperwork...all the waiting and waiting...over.  

A plane full of people stopped and watched me become a mother for the second time, but I didn’t see any of them.  I locked eyes with this child:  mine, clouded with tears...hers, dark as night.  She was scared.  She had never seen a non-Asian.  The smells were different.  The language was unfamiliar.  She had just been removed from her foster family and her country, and flown across the ocean.  She was four months old, and everything she knew had been taken from her.  She was simply in survival mode.

But, there we were: two strangers, who had just become mother and daughter, staring at each other.  I reached out and touched her face ever so gently.  I was ready to whisper, “naneun eomma haeyo”,  Korean for ‘I’m your mommy’.  I never got the chance.  As the words were forming, Natalie, or Woo Young at that time, intensified her gaze, and pooped.  I didn’t even try to hold in the laugh!

So, my first words to my daughter….”Don’t worry little one...I gotcha”.

Back to the race.  I spent much time thinking about “I gotcha”.  Not even just the words, but the feeling of knowing someone has your back.  That special connection between two people that lets each know they are safe with each other.  It can be expressed in a multitude of ways, far beyond mere words.  Sometimes, it can be as simple as knowing someone is thinking of you.  I’ve been blessed to have many people who “get” me and allow me to “gotcha” them in return.  

I didn’t plan on running this race. The opportunity arose, and I went for it.  I got to spend the day with a good friend, and do something that I love to do.  I didn’t expect the grinding elevation, the ice, the cold, the sharp descent, the hot cider and warm fire at the finish.  This race was unexpected, but it  triggered the thoughts of my first moments with my daughter.  

So, if a buddy contacts me and asks me to drop everything, drive to Cleveland to run a crazy 50k and celebrate some good news, I just might say, “I gotcha”.  


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