It seems silly when I think about it. Running 26.2 miles. Every time I think about it. How is running that far smart or beneficial? Because it is sort of crazy right?
So why does it mean so much to people? To me. I’m not sure I even know how to put it into words. The training and the race itself are a journey. From the first training run til you cross that finish line. It changes you. It teaches you things about yourself you never knew before. It almost guarantees life lessons and meaningful reflections. You run a lot to train for this distance. A lot. So, in that time you push your body to it’s limits and your mind has time to run completely free with thoughts. Each marathon I’ve done has had significance. It’s had lessons to learn and has been a metaphor for that particular season of my life. I’ve not had the best race day experiences at this distance. My first marathon I went into with patellar tendonosis, I hadn’t run in 3 week’s. Last year for Dallas a sneaky and spicy 2 year old at the time hid one of my race shoes, forcing me to buy a brand new pair the day before the race. At mile 8 my quads went to you know where and my race was shot…..but it kind of wasn’t, because I finished it. It’s like the marathon laughs at me when I get to that week before or even to the starting line. Like it really thinks that by giving me a bad race or a bad forecast or a lost shoe, that it defeats me. But it’s wrong.
Crossing the finish line of a marathon is a win. Period. I’ve had to learn some hard lessons through what I considered at the time to be failure. Starting what would be a painfully slow race with an injury, not completing my goal time by a long shot last year in Dallas (that I had trained for and was more than ready for and capable of) were all hard pills to swallow at the time. But I’ve learned that wasn’t failing at all. There was always something to learn and sometimes you learn more through the struggle than what you considered to be the success. This marathon won’t be any different and may in fact hold the most meaning of them all.
This past Saturday morning I received a text from my dear friend and training partner Candace. Her dad had passed away suddenly the night before of a massive heart attach. My heart sank. Not because of the race, but for my friend. It hit close to home, as my own dad is struggling through what we believe to be the final stages of a terminal disease. Candace and I have been through a lot of ugly together. You do that stuff with the real friends. And I hated that she had to go through losing her dad. I couldn’t do anything to make it better, which was a helpless feeling. To be totally honest, yes, I did think about the marathon. But not in the way you might think. In the “I wanted so badly for my friend to experience this, and she has worked SO hard to get to this point” way. My heart broke because I know how much she has wanted to cross that finish line.
This week I knew she needed time. My goal was to simply be there to love on her and support he(C if you’re reading this..I sure love ya=). We’d worry about the rest at the end of the week. The memorial service was yesterday and it was sweet. We’ll talk later today to try to form a plan for this weekend. But I know one thing, if she runs and we cross that finish line together you can expect our race photo’s to be slightly emotional(I ugly cry. Especially after 26.2 miles of sweat) As if crossing the finish line isn’t already an emotional thing to do. If we run this thing together it will be a journey. From mile 1-26.2 we’ll laugh and cry and talk and suffer through this thing together. We’ll get our tour of Chicago and our coveted shirt, but we’ll get so much more than that.
She may not run. And that’s ok. I’ll support whatever she decides. But I know how much this experience changes you. How much it teaches you. It’s about so much more than running. It’s about perseverance. It’s about heart and guts and motivation and sticking with things even when they get hard. It’s about being brave and being open to whatever might happen in those 26 miles. It’s about the journey. The marathon is like child-birth. You do it, it’s hard and painful and you swear up one side and down the other that you’ll never do it again, until the plane ride home. That’s when you find yourself looking for your next race. Your next round of crazy.
I know what the marathon means to me, and I want her to experience that. So we’ll see. It’ll be a warm day on Sunday. Not what we were hoping for. Every kid in Lila’s class has the stomach flu(slight exaggeration but you get my point right? Preschool is a disgusting place), I’m fighting a cold and allergies, and my shoulder hurts. No idea why. Oh, and all my run’s the past few days have been sub par and I am feeling massively under trained and ill prepared to run this far. But you know what? None of that matter’s. On Sunday, if Candace runs, I’ll be coach and friend. Not looking at my watch for our pace or calculating our finish time. Just coach and friend. Let’s do this and let’s do it together even if we crawl across that finish line. Which is entirely possible.
The only thing that will matter on Sunday is putting on our game faces. Getting out there and pounding out those miles and learning all we can and enjoying every step….or almost every step. It’ll be to celebrate the life of her dad and our ability to run in that moment. It may not be pretty, but the hard things in life never really are. Until you get through them. Then they are absolutely awesome. And they draw you back for more.