“.2 is about completion… .2 is about mastering pain… .2 is about commitment. .2 is about growth. .2 is about experience. .2 is about life. If you have experienced .2, then you will never be the kind of person who does something ‘almost’ or ‘half-assed.’ … .2 is simultaneously the end and the beginning. Because when we cross one finish line, we arrive at the next start line, carrying with us everything we learned from the prior distance.” Kristin Armstrong.
A few months ago, I decided that rather than dedicating my first full marathon to a specific cause, I would dedicate each individual mile to a person in my life. I thought if I write who each mile is dedicated to on a separate wrist band, and take off each band as I cross that mile, it will help motivate me through the 26.2 If this sounds like a great idea, I can’t exactly take full credit. I read a Kristin Armstrong essay once where each mile would be done with a particular prayer or bible verse in mind. Well, I’m not really an organized religion person. It’s interesting that Kristin is very religious, and I am not at all, yet I can still completely connect with what she writes and find its place in my life.
While I’ve had this idea in the back of my mind for a few months now, and there are a handful of people who I knew I would be dedicating miles to right from the start, I hadn’t really thought about who the rest of the miles would go to. Then a couple of events in the last week made me revisit this. For one, registration opened for joining the L.A. Leggers, a running group that will meet starting in August to train all different level runners for the LA marathon. I registered on day one of open registration. Next, I got an amazing text from a friend….more on that in a little bit. And lastly, I realized that this blog that I started on a whim, I’ve been doing it for 6 months.
Registering with the L.A. Leggers reminded me that February and my first full marathon will be here before I know it. I’m happy to say that I am no longer in the least worried about running 26.2. The fear is gone, and I know that as long as I don’t get injured, I will take flight. I am a runner. It may start to suck at mile 18 and onwards, but dedicating each mile to someone will definitely help pace me through.
The miles that I have known that I will dedicate from the start, let’s go through those. Mile 1 and 2 will have to be my mom and dad. They have sacrificed so much in their lives for their 3 daughters. They left their home, all of their family and friends, and moved to the United States in 1983. They started from scratch, to give their daughters every opportunity. I will probably never have to make such a large-scale sacrifice for my kids.
Mile 26, the last one, I’ve known from the instant I had this idea, will go to my aunt. Pause….breathe….keep writing. If you’ve been following from the start, you know that I lost her unexpectedly over ten years ago. Only in recent years have I started to fully realize the impact that this death has continued to have on me. Over time, the impact has been changing…more positive. I don’t think my aunt ever ran in her life, but she is the one person who had enough joie de vivre to tackle any marathon with no training. If she was still here, she might have actually volunteered to run with me. If not that, then she would uber from one mile marker to the next to cheer me at every one.
Miles 9, 12, and 14 will each go to one of my kids. That is what their ages will be in February 2016. My husband will probably take mile 16, for the number of years we have been married so far, or maybe I’ll give him mile 20, for the number of years we have been together.
But what about the 19 remaining miles. Let me tell you about the text I got this week. A friend of mine who has been silently following my blog, texted me that I am her “running guru”….that she started running a month ago, signed up for a 10K in the fall, and depending on how everything goes, may even consider a marathon. I’ve had at least 5 other friends who have already run their first 5K….some telling me in private, some boasting publicly on social media and tagging me. I’ve had numerous private messages from other friends who have started running, asking me for advice. This is CRAZY….just CRAZY. That I can go from not being able to run a mile to inspiring other people to do so, I can not tell you how humbling that is. Please keep sending me texts and messages with your progress. I have to dedicate some miles to each one of you….and I’ll do it privately since you seem to be shy….and mile by mile, you will usher me through those last 6 – 8 gruesome miles.
There is my other social media shy and absent friend….the one who a few years ago, before there was a blog, called to ask me if I wanted to join her in a little writing group that she wanted to start. I told her that I don’t write….that I’m not sure how I would possibly contribute. She said that she knows I have stories to tell and a voice to tell them with. Those first few private essays, they had nothing to do with running, and a lot do with my aunt. They unleashed a torrent of suppressed memories that were then sweat through and cried through on my runs. My social media absent friend, she will definitely get a mile.
In starting out on this journey of blogging my way through my first full marathon, I wasn’t exactly sure what my goal was. I knew that I wanted to write about running without writing about running, and try to convey what running had done for me in hopes of inspiring a couple of people. Before I started running, I was already a happy person. But once I started running regularly, running became a glue that seeped into every crack, and filled in and smoothed over the foundation of my life. It permeated every aspect of my being and acted like an invisible shield that every day life mishaps would just bounce off of. All of you who have been reading and giving me feedback and started to run, you are in turn inspiring me beyond what you can imagine. I need more than 26 miles to dedicate one to each of you.