“Remember sixteen – when all the world was new and a lifetime stretched before you like fresh snow just waiting for your footprints?”  Peggy Toney Horton.

This past Saturday, I ran 16 miles, for the first time ever.  The number 16 has significance in my life.  In a way, 16 has been a gateway number for me.  It reminds me of movies like Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink.  I loved Molly Ringwald and the accompanying fantasy of anonymous girl gets cute guy…maybe that was when my fascination with red-headed freckled women began…now I’m all about Julianne Moore.

It was the age at which I got my driver’s license, permitting me to venture out from my suburb of Mt. Lebanon into other Pittsburgh neighborhoods… Shadyside and Squirrel Hill, and of course into Oakland and the University of Pittsburgh campus where I had some college-age friends.  It was when I started to realize that there would actually be a whole new world and life for me after high school….that in college anonymous girl can find her place even if she skips going to prom in her makeshift pink prom dress.

Sixteen was the year that my father took me alone for a drive to let me know that my mother had found my diary.  She was reading it and relaying the contents to him.  He suggested that I change my hiding location and as we headed back home, told me that I was not to ever tell my mom that this conversation happened.  (Oops, sorry dad.)  No repercussions….no temporary suspension of my driving privileges.  If you look up the word progressive in the dictionary, you may just see my dad’s picture there.  He is a man who in his 70’s continues to evolve rather than get more set in his ways.

Once I run 16 miles at the LA marathon, I’ll only have 10 (or more accurately 10.2) more to go…..10 miles is the number of miles that is actually “easy” for me to run now.  10 miles is the number that I don’t really need to stress about the night before…the number that I don’t need to have a whole fuel and hydration and rest plan for.  10 miles is the number of miles that this girl who couldn’t run a mile before can now just spontaneously run at any given moment.

Sixteen miles is the longest run Bethany Meyer did in her training before running the Boston Marathon last year.  She survived it despite in her words getting “marathon drunk” towards the end, thinking that she was possibly hallucinating and may fall over at any point…were here legs actually still moving…or was she imagining that they were all the way up Heartbreak Hill and to the finish line.

Sixteen is also the number of years that I have been married to my husband (20 years together).  At year 16, we are strong and in sync on a downhill coast, having figured out each other’s rhythm and what each of us needs from the other, despite being on a steep climb not that many years ago.  We know that life’s course is not flat but hilly, and we’ve figured out how to breathe through the hills to reach the top before complete depletion that forces you to bail out.  In our sixteen years of marriage, year one was one of  the hardest… just like mile one still continues to be hard for me….panting and gasping, cursing and questioning what the f&ck I’ve gotten into…if it’s too late to turn back…not knowing that you need to warm into things.  Before you know it, you’re at mile 2 and mile 3 and you’re on a high…so happy that you kept going….  You climbed the hill and the view from the top is so clear… you wish you’d had that perspective at mile 1 or year 1.

Mile 1 is the mile when if I’ve lined up with a new partner in running group, I turn to them and say don’t mind my rapid breathing and inability to talk right now…. you feel free to take the lead….reassuring them that I am in the right pace group, and that by mile 3 I’ll have found my stride, turning into a chatterbox for the rest of our time.

This past Saturday, I ran 16 miles, and because I ran with my training group and side by side with another runner – a companion at my side, with the rhythmic sounds of our footsteps, water sloshing in our bottles, and our inhales and exhales; it was so much easier from the solo 14-miler I wrote about in the post Pain.

This past Saturday, I ran 16 miles.  I felt great, aware that the energy expended by my legs had been used to fuel my brain.  I knew at the end, that my heart, my soul, and my legs, have enough left in them for many more years and miles of flight ahead.

**If you want to laugh, cry, get “marathon drunk” and feel like you ran the Boston Marathon without actually running it, you must listen to the podcast of Bethany Meyer’s recap of her Boston Marathon which you can find a link to here:  Another Mother Runner Episode #158.  If you are new to the blog, you may want to read my post:  Marriage the Marathon.  It was the first post that got published in Women’s Running Magazine as well, and opened the door to me writing for them.  If you haven’t read my post about high school, that was the hardest one for me to write:  Hills and High School.


On my 16th birthday, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1989


Part of our group running path in Santa Monica, California at sunrise


About Paria

Runner, mother, pediatrician, blogger

14 comments on “Sixteen

  1. I love the way you write. It’s like poetry. You know when someone is reading a book for the first time and it’s one of your all-time favorites and you remember what it was like to read without knowing the story? And you get a little pang of wishing you could read it again for the first time? That’s a bit how I feel reading when you hit a milestone like the 16 miles. It’s so exciting and overwhelming and I remember my own awe and pride that I’d trained my body to do such a feat. Congrats!! And happy thanksgiving!

    • This might be the nicest comment I’ve ever gotten….to call it poetry! Thank you!! “Get a little pang of wishing you could read it again for the first time”….huge compliment!! Thank you!! Have a great thanksgiving!

  2. Congratulations on the 16 mile milestone. I, also, loved reading your post. I remember feeling the same way about running 10 miles when I was training for the Philly Marathon. Best of luck as you continue to add miles to your longest run!

    • Thanks Wendy…and yes, may dad is amazing! We went to a brewery beer tasting together for this past Father’s Day, so you know that you and he would hit if off:)

  3. What a great post – brings me back to training for my first marathon and how I felt when I reached that magic mile marker distance. I’m incredibly proud of you – you are going to kill it at LA!

  4. I know the prep for this first 16 miles was not easy for you. Especially after experiencing pain with a solo 14 miles. But the shared experience of running with a training group makes the impossible possible. You should think of that during your marathon – running beside someone than by yourself.

    I hope you celebrated big after your first 16 miles! Perhaps 2 glasses of wine?
    What’s the next biggest mile marker after 16? Can’t wait to read that essay.

    If at 16 getting your driver’s license showed you a new world outside of your own and life beyond high school, then I hope at 16 miles you can see yourself completing your first marathon and what more you can offer to the running community, as all us readers can.

    • Next big one is 18, which is not this weekend but the weekend after….every other week we go up by 2’s…. and yes, I do see myself completing my first marathon, in just 2.5 months!!

Leave your thoughts/comments