CHANCE ENCOUNTER IN TAMPA

A chance encounter with 3 athletic, gray haired women with a zest for life, uplift my daughter's and my day.

A chance encounter with 3 athletic, gray haired women with a zest for life, uplift my daughter’s and my day.

Did you ever have a chance encounter with someone that absolutely brightened your day and brought life into such clear focus? Well, my daughter and I had such an encounter recently, not with just 1 person but with 3 gray-haired, very athletic, healthy looking women, while standing in line at the downtown Tampa, Florida Starbucks.

We had just finished picking up my race packet for the Gasparilla half marathon in Tampa, where my daughter, Jenna, goes to college. While in the ladies room, I noticed an energetic older woman with 2 race medals around her neck and a visor on her head. When asked how she got 2 medals, she stated that she was doing the challenge, 3 races in 1 weekend. She had just walked the 15k and the 5k and was doing the half marathon the next day. After completing tomorrow’s half marathon she would get 2 more medals, 1 for the half and 1 for doing the challenge. I congratulated her and went on my way.

Shortly after my encounter in the ladies room, Jenna and I went to the Starbucks across the street to get cold drinks. While waiting in a rather long line, we noticed 2 older women behind us, 1 woman with 2 race medals and a baseball hat, and the other woman with 1 race medal and wearing a headband with multicolored, felt birthday candles sticking up spelling out the words, HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

I said, “I just met another woman with 2 race medals,” the woman with 2 race medals responded, “I bet that’s our friend,” and sure enough along came the woman I met in the bathroom.

We carried on a lively conversation, relaying information about each other. Maxine and Pat were both from Tampa, their friend, Mary Kay, the 82 year old birthday girl, was from Silverthorne, CO, where Maxine also lives during the summer, and all have been friends for many, many years. These 3 women and 2 other women are planning a grand adventure next year, to walk across America, starting in San Diego, taking a southern route and ending 5 months later in Jacksonville, FL.

Maxine was the ringleader and catalyst, bringing these girlfriends together and she relayed their plan. They will load up an RV with their stuff, stay in motels, campgrounds, or just along the side of the road for the night, and each woman would take a turn to be designated driver while the other 4 walk 20 miles/day.   In the past, they have done numerous fundraising walks, such as the 3-day breast cancer walk.  So this time, the women decided to embark on this journey to celebrate Maxine’s 70th birthday, their friendship and to raise awareness that older women can succeed at such a fun adventure.

Jenna and I felt uplifted the rest of the day after meeting Maxine, Pat, and Mary Kay; Jenna even got an invite for Passover Seder in April. Their genuine zest and joy for life was contagious, reminding us how goal-setting and dreams can bring us alive and give us purpose.

I completed the Tampa half marathon in a decent time with a really fast finish, no significant aches or pains, and have moved on to training for the Columbus half marathon in May and plan to complete my first marathon in the fall. What are your goals, dreams, and intentions this coming year that give you purpose and zest for life?

Post script: After emailing Maxine a copy of this article for proofing, she gave me an update. Mary Kay and Pat both won their age groups in the half marathon, 80-84 and 75-79 respectively, giving Mary Kay 3 medals total and Pat a whopping 5 medals. They plan to do a practice run this summer in Colorado, renting an RV for 5 days. If all goes well, they will purchase an RV for the big trip and sell it when their adventure ends. Sometime before they leave on their trip they will either have a blog or a facebook page set up so we can follow along.  And Jenna will be having Passover Seder at Maxine’s house where Pat will also be a guest.

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