Finding Inspiration: Feathers from Nana

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I only started running 17 weeks ago.

To understand where I draw my inspiration for this new journey, you need to understand my maternal grandmother, Nana. She was a matriarch. I am the eldest daughter of her eldest daughter and in a family where she left 70 direct descendants to carry her coffin when she died in her 95th year last August, that was a special position.

Shortly after her death, I started noticing feathers. Rather randomly, feathers would appear. Noticing them, I’d think of Nana and smile. They put a pep in my step and made me think of her giving me some no-nonsense kick-up-the-arse advice.

I also started running 3 months after Nana died. I saw at least one feather on every run. Some days I would be looking for them, but most days I wouldn’t, and they would appear as a pleasant surprise, a nudge to help me give an extra effort.

I ran my second 10K race two weeks ago. During my one and only 10km race before this, I had taken a walking break at the 3K, 6K and 8K marks. For this race, though, when I crossed the Starting Line, I thought, “Maybe I can make it to 4K mark for my first break.”

However, getting to the 4K mark was breaking me and I began to doubt myself. I was running hard and breathing even harder. All I wanted was a break.

Then I thought between breaths, “Feathers. (breath) Look for a (breath) feather. (breath) Nana, (breath) where’s my feather? (breath)”

And then it appeared. It wasn’t a feather. Bloody hell, it was a dead bird COVERED in feathers! Right there in front of me!

While those around me lamented at the fate of the poor dead bird, I smiled broadly. I threw my shoulders back, lifted my knees, and took a few deep yoga breaths. I made it to the 4K mark and decided to aim for the 5K mark before taking my walking break.

And I made it.

I took a quick walking break at 5K and then another at the 8km mark. As I edged up a never-ending hill towards the 9km mark, it felt like that marker would never appear. Just as I started thinking about the pain and the effort it was taking me, a bird flew down almost to the top of my head and gave a loud “Squawk” as if to say, “If you seriously think any of the rest of us are going to sacrifice ourselves for your motivation, you can think again!” I laughed to myself and was spurred on to make it up that hill and finish the race.

That race was the first time in my life I ran 5K without a walking break. It was the first time I ran 10km with only two brief walking breaks. It was the first time in my life I finished 10km in under 62 minutes.

Maybe these feathers are a total coincidence, but I like to think of them as inspiration from my grandmother. I think of them as my feathers from Nana!


Katie Lambe, Guest Blog Writer

When Katie isn’t running and noticing feathers, she is a busy working mom with four young children at home. She also keeps busy as the founding principal of a value-based/equality-centered primary school with an enrollment of 350 children. Katie turns 40 in 2018 and wants to get fit for this milestone birthday by doing Couch to Marathon in 10 months. The marathon she hopes to complete is Marathon du Medoc, a marathon that hands participants a glass of wine every mile! Follow her journey on Twitter @CouchMarathon.