Last Saturday, November 12, 2011, I ran the Sun Trust Richmond Marathon. I had something to prove...to no one but myself. I had to be redeemed.
I've been training for this event for the last 6 months, starting immediately after getting home from the disaster I like to refer to as Oklahoma. Training for a marathon takes a lot of time, if you do it adequately and your main goal is not only to cross the finish line upright but unharmed. I take my training - no, my health - VERY serious. As such, I followed my training plan to the letter and sprinkled in some much needed cross-training and the occasional yoga class for good measure (and much needed mind rests). I put a lot of my life (the really boring stuff like house cleaning and sleeping in) on the back burner, including my little online diary here...good way to lose what few loyal followers I had! But for good reasons, like these.
I like food. No, I like GOOD food. You know, the kind made with love, heavy cream, cheese and a side of bread...with carrot cake for dessert. It's a constant struggle for me to push these lovies away. I don't deprive myself completely and always, just ask the girls in my book club! I'm all over those sweet confections! So when I partake, I run or I reach for the dumbells or I squeeze into the last spot available at the Saturday 8:00 AM spin class (hence, the no sleeping in part of this message). I think it's an even trade and I believe in everything in moderation.
I also like to feel like a girl. Feel good about myself. Feel a little sexy. And running makes me feel strong and powerful. I am not a super model. I don't have the body of a super model - never have, never will. I don't have a Cindy Crawford mole. I don't have Christy Turlington's cheekbones. I don't have a chiseled chin, almond eyes or a roman nose. I am, however, the female version of my father. And that makes me awesome. Sure, I wish I'd come to this realization years ago. It would've saved me a lot of heartache. Better late than never. My real hope is that young women find something awesome about themselves, too. And stop comparing themselves to what is more than likely an airbrushed photo of unrealistic perfection.
Additionally, I don't mind being alone. Over the last 6 months, I have covered hundreds of miles on foot and seen backroads in Bear Creek I've never been on during the almost 10 years I've lived here. During that time, I've taken in the beauty I call home. I've watched calves grow into heifers. I've watched the trees go from barren to green to brilliant golds and reds. I've watched the farmers plant their hay and then climb in the Combine to harvest their bounty. I've watched my neighbor boys scream with excitement over the last day of school and then witness them doing their impression of "dead man walking" as they made their way to the bus stop for the first day of school this past September. I've watched time go by one quiet mile at a time. All by myself. And it's helped me get closer to me, to my surroundings, to the physical world I live in. It's afforded me ample time to breath deeply and often and when I needed it most. Running gives me time to reflect. It gives me an opportunity to look into my heart and realize just how much the people in my life mean to me, how much I love them. It also gives me an opportunity to find anger and sadness in my heart - this isn't always so good...it's hard to run and cry at the same time.
But maybe the biggest reason I took on this challenge, and will do it again, is the feeling of complete accomplishment when I cross the finish line. Because the finish, no matter how good or ugly, is the summation and culmination of so much effort.
And despite the sport being so solitary, it really is a team effort when it's all said and done. Over these last 6 months, I have had the support and encouragement of the staff at my local YMCA and the Ladies Fitness Center. I have had the doctor I work for ask me faithfully, every Monday morning, how far was my long run this weekend and how did it feel? I've had friends and acquaintenances wish me nothing but the best. I've had my mom ask me to take up baking cookies instead (which really is code for "good job, please be careful"). I've had my daughter be...well, be my daughter - my beacon of light, my golden ring, my cheerleader, my biggest fan. And I've had my husband. My husband, who signed me up for 4 races, including a half marathon, over 6 weeks - 6 weeks prior to my marathon. My husband, who wanted to know if I was going to run my next long run faster than my last. My husband, who wanted to know if I REALLY wanted that 4th piece of pizza. My husband, the toughest coach I never I asked for.
And I've had my dad. Who was just simply there. And never said a word. He just was. He just is.
And because I'm his, that makes me awesome.