*Special photo cred to my friend Ali, amazing supporter, cheerleader, dancer, and Dubsmash extraordinaire. She somehow navigated the packed, roadblocked city and cheered me on at 6 different points!
This past Sunday, I finished my 7th marathon. It was my slowest by far, but after a few of these, it’s clear that the Olympics is not in my future. That’s why I let myself take in the experience this time, rather than focus on my pace. I eavesdropped on others conversations about how great/horrible their experience was and what brought them to the course that day. I witnessed strangers helping other strangers through encouraging one another and sometimes literally offering a hand. I ran through communities that many normally make sure to lock their doors when driving through, but today, there wasn’t fear, only friendship. Thousands of volunteers spent their day handing out beverages, snacks, and supplies just to have us throw them on the ground for them to pick up. And they did it happily.
This celebration of humanity is one of the reasons love running marathons. Because no matter which side of the pavement you’re on, we’re all just humans trying to overcome. No matter what challenges are presented to me, there’s always someone out there muddling through an even greater one. And I guess that’s the other reason that I love running marathons. Because they’re never easy. You’re always pushing yourself, talking yourself down from a ledge, fighting against the “I can’t” in your head.
When I trained for my first race, my life was in chaos. Running gave me a place solace to freely think and feel without judgement or distraction. Having nothing to do but think for hours at a time have forced me to work out my issues in my head. Each marathon after the first has been a celebration of some sort, even if it’s just to commemorate that I’m still alive and kicking. The only year that I backed out of a marathon was a week after I had my first miscarriage. And you know what? I missed it. Because my way of mourning and celebrating are the same – running. It’s therapeutic. Each mile I shed fears and sweat out frustrations. Each mile I achieve a clearer sense of who I really am. Each mile I realize that I am a strong woman — stronger than I ever imagined. Each time my feet hit the ground, I run away from my old insecurities towards a better me.
The marathon is an event unlike any other, which is why I continue to run them even though I keep getting slower. There’s something almost spiritual about being brought to where you think your limit is – and then surpassing it.
I hope to continue running for a long time because the simple act of running makes me believe that life is good and worth the uncertainties that go with it. More often than not, our capabilities way exceeds the limits we put on ourselves.
If you run (5Ks, marathons, away from bears…), I’d love to hear why you run!