I've planned this post for many months. I've spent countless hours rehearsing what I would say, imagining the profound marathon wisdom I would have to share with each and every one of you. At some point in my training, near the end - after a few REALLY long runs, I even imagined I would have some sort of humorous story with how all the pain and cold mornings were really worth every ounce of energy I put into it.
But, as I sit here everything that I imagined I would say falls flat.
I started this journey with an idea over 2 years ago and 1 year ago I put this idea into motion. I had no real idea what it would take to bring this tiny little dream to life, but I never thought it would be tough.
Running is not hard. You put one foot in front of the other until you find the end. Sometimes the end is just around the corner and sometimes the end is up a very steep hill, either way it's only a matter of continuing to move in a forward direction.
I made a plan, established where my weaknesses were and found a way to combat them with support, support I am so grateful to have had. I determined my goals and set out with every intention of fulfilling them, never doubting that I wouldn't. In the end I ran a race that consisted of 26.2 miles that eventually led to a finish line. I could give you a mile by mile recount of the miserable cold (hello 39 degrees), the St. Jude Children's faces (both living and not), the support from people running or just cheering us on, and even a finishing time that is no where near where I had originally planned on crossing the finish line at (yes, I completely overestimated my time,) but what I came to realize during that final run was much more that I ever thought possible.
On this journey, that seemed so grand - almost like 'who am I to dream the impossible' I learned that it is not impossible at all. Dreams are meant to be far reaching, to push the limits of what we know, to force us to stretch beyond what's comfortable. Dreams are not what break us, as I originally thought from the loss of a few of my own, but instead dreams are what help push us to be better than we are today.
A marathon is not about speed so much as it is endurance and for me, it was about the will to keep going when everything about that moment told me I wanted to quit. Life is like this sometimes. You see, we can train and prepare and plan for what we think lies ahead, but the truth is we don't really know what that moment will be like until we face it. In life we build off our past experiences in an attempt to repeat what went right and to learn from what went wrong. We all face a moment where we question what we believe or where we must decide to look ahead and let go of the past when all we know is the past we've held onto for so long. There are moments when the sun is shining and the band is playing and we think 'life doesn't get much better than this' only to find when we turn the corner at the next mile, we are alone in a cold wind fighting our way uphill. Its those moments when we must choose to continue to keep moving forward or we might never find our way to the end.
This past Saturday I found my end. I felt the spirit of love and hope for what 14000 people were committed to doing on that morning, I felt the pain and fear of defeat as I faced mile after mile mentally ready to throw in the towel and I felt the exhilaration that comes with crossing under the archway of balloons, greeted by the ones I love and knowing that I did it.
I started this journey as one woman only to find the woman I ended as, is so much more than I could've hoped for.