The Butterfly Effect – RNR Arizona 2018

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.[2] -Wikipedia

A more specific example is that when a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world, the small additional movement of air can cause a hurricane halfway around the world.

People can be butterflies. Their actions, intentional or not, can affect hundreds or even thousands of people. We find a lot of butterflies on the marathon circuit.

Take for example Harriett Thompson. She set the world record as the oldest woman to finish a marathon at age 92 and a half marathon at age 94. In October of 2017, she passed away after complications after a fall. She was out delivering gifts when it happened. I remember riding with her in 2016, the year between her world record runs and there was no way you could not be inspired by her spirit. It was the same for everyone who met her. She raised over $115,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training.

Last year, we recruited one of our stuffed animals to be a race mascot after a frigid forecast for RNR DC. Peanut the Penguin came to 14 races with us and one with Tawni to reach the vicarious Hall of Fame level. This year, in honor of Harriett, we’ll be bringing a pair of hedgehogs – actually named Harriett and Harry. They made the rounds meeting our friends at the expo and pre-race dinner.

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At the expo, Lisa told us that our friend Ann was in a mountain biking accident, going over the handlebars and doing a full-on face plant. Damage included 10 stitches, a chipped tooth, a pierced eardrum and a broken jaw that will need to be wired shut for a few weeks. The picture below isn’t her, but it’s what her husband, Peter, said it looked like when she hit the ground.

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Photo credit: tdwsport.com

As traumatic as this was, she’s still finding the energy to write about it in her new blog called “Chew While You Can“. I’ll let you hop over to the blog with a warning that the post accident pictures are not for the faint of heart. Through all this, Ann saw the bright side of chipping a tooth since it gave her a way to get liquid nourishment through a straw instead of a feeding tube. She’s resting quietly at home with two mothers, her daughter and her trusty bulldog.

Ann’s voice at the start of the Rock n Roll races keeps the crowds pumped and hearing her in the last stretch before the finish is the sign that the celebration is ready to start. She has been heard by literally millions of people over the years, some who are at their first race, some who come back knowing she’ll be there to give them a high-five at the finish line.

We had a family moment at the start of the half marathon. Thanks to Adrian for the GoPro footage. We did our best to do the trademark Ann Wessling countdown for corral three. Is Ann a butterfly? You bet she is. And thousands of people wish her a speedy recovery as we look forward to her return for Rock n Roll New Orleans.

Jim Diego sang the national anthem for the half marathon start, his 41st different state on the way to a goal of singing before races in all 50. He’s targeting the Route 66 Marathon in Oklahoma to finish the quest.

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Bring the Music. National Anthem singer Jim and #barefootelvis Henry

Meanwhile, Juan started his 2018 “Elbows Up” tour. Arizona was his 89th Rock n Roll heavy medal event. He’ll be the 14th person to hit the 100 race mark and plans to have a different accessory at every location. Oddly, not a lot of people took him up on his request to Spank the Taco.

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Add one more small but very influential lady to the butterfly roster. Beth (center, behind the Mad Photobomber, Drew) was back after a fourth round of spinal surgery. The first one left her with a paralyzed ankle so she runs with a carbon fiber brace designed by Allard. The brace allows people live active lives with ‘foot drop’ that can be caused by spinal injuries, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, MS or ALS. She and Jim spread awareness of the company wearing the orange and blue TeamUp colors. She is a multiple time Boston Qualifier, and she does this without using the disability adjusted times. She’s a butterfly, but she could fly through a hurricane.

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This wasn’t a race for time. Arizona rarely is. Instead it was a long weekend of spending time thinking of people who’ve come into our lives and made it better, just by being who they are.

After the race, we joined Tawni and Tamie at The Butterfly Wonderland. It was the obvious inspiration for this blog, but it was also a good hour of quiet reflection. These creatures fly around their habitat, not knowing who they’ll land on, who they’ll make smile, and how that person might change as they go back into the world.

One race finished for 2018. Sixteen more planned, not counting a couple of 5K’s here and there.

Let’s go out and change the weather this year.

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