First of all, how is it still January? Second of all, can this month end already? Despite the fact that the first month of the year always seems to drag on, this one in particular has been filled with such tragedy and grief that starting a new chapter, by way of moving to a new calendar month is beyond necessary.
Before sitting down to write this post, I immediately began making excuses. First it was due to a lack of time, then it was a question of content and finally, the biggest one, it isn't the appropriate time to talk about my minuscule accomplishments when numerous families lives have been utterly destroyed over the weekend in a matter of minutes.
How inconsiderate of me to post anything that isn't focused on honoring them, their lives, their legacies, and showing my support to those families. Our LA Families.
And then it hit me, "Casey, you are honoring them." That helicopter was full of people who were dedicated to young girls and women in sport, passionate about using their platform to advance women in sport and uplifting the young women they coached, mentored, taught or even gave birth to.
In addition, amongst the passengers on the helicopter that morning was a Living Legend. Beyond his dedication to women in sport, Kobe maintained a mentality throughout his lifetime idolized and revered by all - The Mamba Mentality. Like that meme that essentially says "Beyonce has 24 hours in a day like the rest of us," so did Kobe, he just made those 24 hours count.
In the wake of this tragedy, it's been impossible not to spend every waking moment thinking about the unbearable effects of that fateful morning. While us Angelenos truly feel like we lost family members that day, the way the city has shown up in support of those families affected is a beautiful reminder of the connectedness and compassion of humanity.
If I could have 1/10 of the impact on my friends, family and community that that man did on the day I pass, I know I will have done something right.
That being said, about 10 days ago, I ran a half marathon. This was my third half marathon in my lifetime and a new PR. You might wonder where the connection between this weekend's tragedy and my silly little half marathon come in. Well, let me tell you.
Recently, I haven't been feeling super motivated on the workout front. I know we all go through our phases but it seems that the stressors of work have taken a front seat and thus pushed fitness and wellness to the back burner. I've been prioritizing catching up on sleep and feeling like my feet are planted firmly on the ground (newsflash, they haven't been), rather than chasing my fitness goals - and believe me, there are plenty to catch.
Back in November, I decided while I wanted to get back into running, the best way for me to do that was going to be by signing up for an actual race. That way I would have something specific to train for, thus motivating me to get my butt running. Literally.
Well, then the Holidays hit, and then job interviews, travel, bad food, drinking, the standard Holiday agenda and I found myself running maybe 1-2 times a week. Not at all the definition of "getting back into running" that I imagined.
In fact, I did my longest run, a 10 miler, about 2 weeks before the big 13.1. Externally, I was telling everyone I wasn't worried. I laughed off my lack of training and tried to play it off that Adam and I were just going out there to have fun and there was no pressure whatsoever. In the back of my mind however I was in full panic mode. What if it's like running Malibu Half Marathon back in 2018 exactly one month after running Chicago Marathon where I felt like I simply could not cross that finish line no matter how many hours it took. And that was one month after running 26.2!
The PTSD, the disbelief and self-doubt sunk in.
But let me tell you, once I did that 10 miler, and I mean DID the 10 miler - I crushed that bad boy - I felt SO confident afterwards. Once I had that under my belt, I knew that 13.1 was within reach.
It was not easy, 3M Austin Half Marathon. No. There were moments I wanted to stop, moments I wanted to cry, and moments I wanted to wipe that smug smile off Adam's face - ugh why must running be SO easy for him!?
Regardless of my trepidation before and during the race, I crossed that finish line and shaved 4 minutes off my previous half marathon time. That, is the Mamba Mentality.
Refusing to give up; ignoring the demons in your head and only paying mind to the goal at hand; challenging yourself mentally and physically; pushing past barriers; not accepting defeat; knowing what you're capable of achieving and the relentless pursuit of perfecting your craft - whatever that may look like to you.
When I think of Kobe, Gigi and the other passengers onboard that helicopter and their families whose lives will never be the same again, yes, I think of incomprehensible sadness. What the loved ones they left behind must be going through right now is absolutely earth-shattering to think about.
And while I'm not done grieving, nor do I see the end in sight, I do want to take time to focus on continuing Kobe's legacy, in my own small way. All of their legacies.
The relentless pursuit of perfecting my craft. What is my "craft," you might ask? And to be honest, that's a great question. I can tell you that ever since Sunday I've wanted to write though. Be it therapy, or perfecting my craft, writing is part of me and hopefully will be part of my legacy one day.
Mamba Mentality..."We don't quit, we don't cower, we don't run. We endure and conquer. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, find the silver lining and get to work with the same belief, same drive and same conviction as ever...Mamba Out."
No matter what stage you are at in your grieving process, remember these three things. First, allow yourself time to process and grieve. Truly. Let it out. Second, hug your loved ones closer than you've ever hugged them before. Know that while tomorrow isn't guaranteed, neither is the end of today. Don't leave words unsaid and no matter what, be present. And Third, do not let this tragedy pass us by in vain. It's up to each and every one of us to pick up the pieces for our communities, our city, the world, and ensure that his hard work and dedication, his short life's work, his true legacy, is never forgotten, but instead, advanced.
For you, for me, and more importantly for the generations of young girls behind us whose lives he'll never get the chance to personally affect.
(Originally Published January 28, 2020)