Sunday, September 22, 2013

'Twas the Night Before the Marathon


Tonight was supposed to be my runner's Christmas Eve. I pushed my body to its absolute limit week after week for months prepping for what was supposed to be my first marathon tomorrow. And then came the injury I've already shared with you.

What's the saying? Sometimes the best laid plans?

My brother in law gave me a note as a joke (which would result in a pretty valuable lesson) on my 16th birthday. The note promised me a new car. Tomorrow. 

No new car tomorrow. No marathon tomorrow.

Tomorrow isn't promised. We have today. We have now. And that's really all we know for sure. The challenge for all of us lies in finding the delicate balance of living and loving in the present while pursuing tomorrow's goals and dreams.

I've been thinking about the marathon all day. My running partner stopped by today with a gift for me, a charm key ring. On it is a charm that reads, "Sole Sisters". There's also a 5K charm on it for our first 5K together and a 15K charm for our last race together. And safely wrapped under the cotton of the box was the 26.2 charm.

She will be putting on her 26.2 charm after tomorrow's marathon. And I will be there cheering & waiting for her with my big sign at the finish line.

But that teenie tiny 26.2 charm at the bottom of the box is the essence of our running partnership and friendship. It is one of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever been given.

The small charm tucked away in the bottom of the box was a reminder to me, in her one-of-a-kind-way, that it's not a question of if I make it to the finish line. It's a question of when. 

There is no greater gift you can give someone than believing in them.

There's no doubt running with her tomorrow would have been amazing. Finishing a marathon is a bucket list item for me. I've been on my way to the marathon for a really long time. Tonight I can't help thinking about how awesome my journey has been. I'm so grateful that I've been able to find value and meaning in nearly every single moment along the way. 

I've had some grueling runs that have taught me what I'm really made of. Running has ignited a fire and a passion in me. I've met some amazing people through my blog. I've forged what I know will be a life long friendship with my running partner.

In the 500 plus miles I've run in my training, I've run out my frustrations, my fears and my anxiety. 

I've run off the weight I wore to protect myself. 

I've run through grief and a breast cancer scare. 

I've run into a new body and a new confidence. I've run into my passion for writing. New friends. New opportunities. New strength. A whole new life.

My neighbor also stopped by this morning. He was one of the fastest distance runners in the US at one time. He qualified for the Olympics and represented the US 3X in the world half marathon championships. I don't know him well. And I doubt he has any idea I know about his running record. But I love listening to him. He's humble, no nonsense but kind, and a straight shooter.

He had simply asked me this a few days ago when I told him I was thinking of running with my fractured rib & injured leg.

You want to run your first marathon with a broken rib and injured leg? Do you want to enjoy it?

Today upon hearing my decision to not run tomorrow and wait to heal he simply said, "It takes a lot of strength for a runner to not run."

I never get the grandiose "aha" moments you see on TV. They rarely come from the million and one self help books I've read. The wisdom I receive almost always comes from the people and places I least expect. It comes from the guy next door, or the homeless guy I accidentally touch as I am handing him a buck, or the little old lady at the community kitchen crossing the street.   

'Twas the night before the marathon.   

And tonight I am feeling excited for my running partner, content with my decision, and confident I will savor every moment on the road to the marathon finish line whenever my time comes to cross it.