a turning point

Last yearI ran my first half marathon – which was also my first race longer than 3 miles 🙂 It was a big deal in my non-running history and I was so nervous about it that all spring I called it “that which shall not be named.” I swore my running friends to complete secrecy. I didn’t want anyone to know I was running a half marathon because I was afraid of the expectations and the pressure.

This year I won an entry to a marathon and one of the first things I did was tell everyone I know that I was going to train for and run a marathon. I blogged it, facebooked it, and tweeted it to death. Everyone who came in contact with me this spring knew that I was running my first-ever marathon in June.

What was the difference? I realized what an impact supportive surroundings can be. I knew going into this that I’d need all the support and positive energy I could get. And let me tell you, without it – I wouldn’t have run 317.25 miles from March thru May. I’m not certain I would have had the guts to line up at the marathon start last Saturday. And I seriously doubt I would have continued to push and push and push myself without knowing that I had a group of people cheering me on and waiting for me.

I couldn’t have had my marathon spring without…

My friends Kate and Lisa who finagled their weekday morning schedules to break up my long runs and keep me company.

My friend Debbie who somehow was able to train herself to run 20 miles, even though she usually only had time to run once a week.

My family who put up with my obsessions, my hunger and my moaning.

My husband who didn’t bat an eye when I bought new shoes and running gear during a spring when we were trying to save money. Who willingly jumped on the course to physically support me when I was at my lowest – even though he’s not in shape for that kind of heat or that much walking. And who never told his non-athletic wife that she was insane for even trying this.

My oldest daughter who quite often bites my head off when I wake her up at 6:15 for school and yet got up cheerfully at 3:30am. Who was nothing but positive in cheering me on whenever she saw me on the course and was also willing to walk by my side to try and give me a boost on marathon day.

My brother who sent me facts like this to help me come to terms with my 24 miles:
– The first marathon was run at the inaugural games in Greece in 1896. You know what the distance was? 40,000 meters or in our system, 24.85 miles.
– The first Boston marathon was chosen to commemorate the famous ride of Paul Revere. Its distance – 24.7 miles.

Reminders from more than one person that I picked a very small race for my marathon. There were just over 400 finishers on Saturday, only a quarter of them women. And while I was discouraged at the fact that I was at the bottom of the pack – if you look at larger events I would have finished ahead of hundreds & hundreds of runners.

That friend Lisa who ran with me at the beginning when I felt good, then watched me take a turn for the worse but never made me feel like I couldn’t hack it.

That friend Debbie who may have seen me at my very worst and yet also at my most determined. A friend who shifted from being my running partner to being anything I needed as I faltered, kept going, attempted to soak in the event and tried to not bite the heads off of other crazy runners – she was also literally my water carrier when she carried a gallon jug of water for over a mile after water stops were closed. And she was the person by my side as I entered that nightmare finish, I don’t know that I would have had the courage to make that final .1 mile without her.

Friends like Barb who made a long trip, lost a good night’s sleep, drove around to uplift me with her smile and stood out in the ridiculous heat all while being 6 months pregnant.

Friends like Maggie and her family who also made a long trip and drove all over South Bend to find me and give me high fives and cheer me on. Hopefully I didn’t scar her children for life with my finish line meltdown.

Family who fed us tailgate treats and post-race lunches that are becoming legendary. Who put us up at their homes. Who helped take care of my kids while I ran.

And all of you who have posted the kindest words in response to my posts this week. These post-marathon days have not been easy but reading your comments have honestly helped give me some of that perspective I’m trying to find. I’m glad I set this goal for myself. I’m glad I reached out for support this spring. And someday I hope to turn the rest of the corner and also be proud of what I accomplished in my marathon.

My husband gave me a list of Bible quotes for my pre-marathon reflection and one of them is helping me afterwards too: Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1). The race that was set before me was not what I anticipated but I mustered the endurance I needed from those that were around me.

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