My initial reasons for running a marathon were not noble. I wasnâ€™t raising money for charity. I had these ideas that I would emerge from the experience a lean, long-legged gazelle. Never mind that I am 5â€™2â€. I thought if I could run a marathon, I would never have to worry about not wanting to exercise again â€“ it would be so ingrained in my day that it would be an effortless endeavor. I thought running a marathon would prove that I was stronger than my fears and bigger than ghosts that chased me. I was curious about what would happen in the course of training for such an event â€“ could my body take it? What would it feel like to run for hours? Could I find the secret to the runnerâ€™s high?
I didnâ€™t get what I expected; I received so much more. The gifts I received in preparation for my first event did not come to me at the finish line. They were granted in incremental doses â€“ great and small â€“ throughout the months of preparation for the big day.
Training for an event several months out is a grand experiment in mind and body. With few distractions or demands on a long run or ride (other than placing one foot or pedal in front of the other) you discover the unexpected. It is possible to run for longer than an hour. Itâ€™s possible to go longer than you ever dreamed! With practice, you get faster as well. You break barriers you did not know existed. You marvel at how loyal your body has been to you along these many miles and realize how it has always stood with you, time and time again, through dieting and childbirth and foolish mistakes. You develop an appreciation for it that extends far beyond dress sizes and BMIs.
Within these hours of solitude and quietness you also find miracles in the deep recesses of your mind. I discovered after 17 miles that I am a really, really good cheerleader and when push comes to shove I am the only one I can rely on to make it to the finish line. I discovered the power of attitude â€“ how my rotten mood made a run unbearable and how easily that could turn around if I changed my internal dialogue. I found inspiration, great ideas, moving meditation, laughter, tears, and deep strength. I found the time to find more of who I am. I found I am stronger than my fears, so there is no need to outrun any ghosts. Each time I run, I have an opportunity to learn more, connect deeper, and become inspired.
Those of you in training have your own beautiful stories. Those of you who have considered trying the seemingly impossible have beautiful stories waiting to be woven. Join me on the trails. Join me at the starting line. I am waiting to hear your stories.