Five months ago I set out to prove that, in spite of having had a very recent back surgery, I could indeed run one last marathon. I needed to prove it to myself. I needed back on the long distance wagon. In June I began the journey toward crossing the 26.2 finish line and it began with a very rewarding six mile long run. Since that first training run I’ve had many moments of doubt. I’ve questioned my ability, my sanity, my reasoning, and my physical capacity. I’ve suffered through calf injuries, foot pain, blisters, chafing, and sometimes debilitating back pain. But I’m a mind-over-matter kind of gal and I’m a big believer that we are capable of pushing our limits far beyond what we think is manageable. My favorite mantra is “I can do anything for one mile!” I recognize that what I learn while challenging myself on the pavement directly translates to what type of mental messages I’m feeding myself in my every day life. On long runs I learn to squash negative self talk. I learn that I am capable of pushing through pain, fatigue, and boredom. I learn that I like myself and who I am. I learn that I’m strong. I learn that I’m loyal, committed, and persistent. I learn to never stop growing. To keep moving forward even if it’s the forward movement of slowly putting one painful step in front of the other. Running has become the training ground for my life. Not just for my physical fitness.
During these past few months I’ve had some really great cloud nine moments. I ran two insanely gorgeous half marathons in my new hometown. I ran the Hood to Coast relay and was able to check that off my bucket list. I ran the Lion’s Gate Bridge in Vancouver, BC, I ran by the side of my new friend, Raluca, as she completed her very first marathon! I ran my 18 miler in Tucson, meeting a different friend for each 6 mile lap. Training has brought me intense amounts of satisfaction.
I promised myself that the Portland Marathon would be my last marathon. I know better than to say I will NEVER run another marathon but my intention has been that this would be the last. So it’s lucky number 7 that retires the 26.2 miler for me. And it was this race that brought me full circle. I crossed the Broadway Bridge heading back in to downtown toward the finish line and I was taken with emotion. The Broadway Bridge is the exact place where this marathon journey began for me. I jogged across that bridge during that first 6 miler when I set out to accomplish finishing this race and now here I was reaching my goal. It was a very moving moment for me. I spent most of the marathon recognizing how far I’ve come since I ran that first marathon in 2008. For the first few marathons I required anger to move me forward. I needed angry music, angry thoughts, and angry energy. The shift toward peaceful running began when I ran the Mt. Lemmon Half and music was not allowed on the course. I had to learn to run 13 miles uphill without the fuel of anger being pumped in to my ears. It turned out to be one of my favorite races EVER. I checked in to nature. The smells, the sounds, the feel of the cool air and suddenly running became peace. I felt that shift for the entirety of this marathon. I hit zero walls. I listened to zero angry songs. I had nothing irritating to get off my chest. Instead I was soaking in the moments. I was noticing the people around me. Aware of Raluca and her emotions…every now and again reaching over to hug her, encourage her, and just be there with her on her journey. I was smiling at the spectators. Feeling the music of the bands. I was content within myself and enjoying being with me. Instead of anger filled lyrics and violent beats, I listened to one podcast about love and relationships. The rest of the time I just was. I was aware and happily in the moment.
Running has brought me to this place of peace. What’s most exciting is that running is a direct translation of my life and this is the most peaceful I’ve felt in a long long time. For that, I owe running everything.
Let the journey take you places you never expect, readers. Journey on!