Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dusting Off Old Dreams: Why I'm Finally Running a Marathon

On Sunday, April 28th, I am running the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.  Not really a big deal, right? I mean, I've actually said that to myself so many times and thought about it so many times, that you really couldn't convince me otherwise.  I've reasoned through it this way: a marathon is a little thing, especially knowing that so many someones will die today, children are hungry, abandoned, abused, families are splitting up, and right now an unexpected tragedy is making headline news....

So, the race in and of itself isn't a big deal. But, the reasons for the race, for running period, are. And, the list of unfortunate events that I listed above is for many people, including myself, the reasons why we lace up our shoes and attempt crazy things like putting one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles.

A long, long time ago, before marriage and babies and homeschooling, I took up running as a sport.  I ran for all of the typical reasons: to get into shape, to earn the freedom to eat pizza and drink beer without agonizing over the scale, to clear my mind, to cry alone, to be alone, to work out anger, to sing Hootie and the Blowfish out loud on lonely trails where only the squirrels could hear me, to manage the pain that Fibromyalgia had wrought upon my teenage body.

In college, I was blessed to have a couple of friends who also enjoyed the sport.  They even talked me into training for the Walt Disney World marathon with them.  And, despite our climb to 20 miles of training, for reasons including sickness and finances, none of us made it to the sunny state's race. Despite the disappointment, I kept running, but only in small local races, and none of them longer than a 1/2 marathon.

Fast forward 17 years, and the goal to run a marathon is still just that - a goal.  I must have thought about it hundreds of times over the years, looking for the perfect place and time to anchor my determination once again.  But, the thoughts and potential plans were never realized, perhaps because of a lack of courage, motivation or dedication (throw in there a disordered attachment to Office reruns, with a bag of chips and a cold beer). 

Shortly after college, Steve and I were married, and we began a family right away.  Suddenly everything I thought was important in life took a serious backseat to being a mother.  My "personal bests" were measured not in miles but in moments, time spent with the boys building block towers, teaching them to read, wiping noses and tying shoes.  I ran laps around them, the park, the neighborhood.

Sure there was a little bit of time between cross-state moves, Steve's work travels and my pregnancies to run a few races here and there, but my oldest son (who was 5 at the time) made it clear to me that the time I needed to train for the "big" races didn't jive with his childhood agenda. One day he threw my running shoes in the trash can, leading me on a wild goose chase to find my only pair of kicks before the daylight hours drained away.  I found him inside his room, sitting on the floor, arms crossed ready to read me my rights. Okay, Susan, now just isn't the time for this. There will be a time, someday. I hope.
This is the point where I'd like to tell you that I have some spectacular or even a dramatic story to share with you as to why I've decided that at nearly 40 I'm finally dusting off an old dream. But, the truth is, I don't. All of the sentiments in this story are really quite ordinary.  And, maybe that's just what the it needs to be - an ordinary, yet hopefully encouraging story.  A story for all of you out there who, like me, have allowed your dreams and goals to fall asleep inside of you.  

What has awakened the sleeper in me is a combination of things.  I will be honest, for superficial reasons, a little bit of pride can be a big motivator.  Getting older isn't easy or fun.  It's now or never, dammit.  I'm going to do this thing. But, the deepest reason I'm rustling up the dream really is this:  Running conquers the things we cannot control.  There is a great deal of uncontrollable hurt around me.  Hurt in my family, hurt in the world, hurt in my own heart.  I'm not sure why, but somehow when I made the decision to run this race, I felt ( and still feel) that in a spiritual way the pain of training, the endurance, the commitment, the struggles to press on can all somehow atone for these hurts, these sufferings.  

Sometimes running can come across as a selfish, self-centered sport.  After all, runners are known to have big egos, to brag about the number of races they have run, the distance, the time.  They also do somewhat strange things and find it necessary to enlighten others with the reasons why they like squatting in the woods, or shaving their chests.  But, underneath it all, every runner has a deeper reason(s) why they run.  Miles of steps can conquer, or at least bring into perspective, great depths of pain, worry, self-doubt, anger, fear and most significantly the utter brokenness that comes from not being able to control the cruelties of life that weigh heavy on the heart.  Cruelties like cancer, a military spouse in the line of fire thousands of miles away or babies who never live to see their first birthday.

We run for those reasons, and so very many more.  

This is my (encouraging) ordinary story.  If you are reading this, think of me on April 28th, I'll be running for all of my readers.  Do you have a dream or goal that needs awakened?? Don't be afraid to go for it!

In these bodies we will live.
In these bodies we will die.
Where you invest your love
You invest your life...
Awake my soul!
  ~Mumford and Sons


  1. Great post! So motivating:) Good luck with the marathon:)

  2. prayers that you will finish the race and keep your eyes on Him.

  3. AHHHH! You are almost at the taper! That is so exciting! I could say lots . . . my first marathon did not go as planned, or as scheduled (there was a death in the family that prevented me from running the race I was registered to run), but it was good and I learned so much about myself through it.

    Praying for you and your marathon!

  4. I think you described how running makes me feel the best I've heard although I do good to run an occasional 5K. Best of wishes for you and the marathon.

  5. I will definitely be thinking of you. I have always wanted to do the Susan G. Koman 3 day 60 mile walk for breast cancer. I lost my Grandma at a very young age and I have always felt like this is a way to thumb my nose at her untimely killer. I struggle with anxiety and have since my third child was born (not something I often say out loud) and you are so right about physical activity being a balm to mental health issues. I am down 13 lbs and working on another 25. I told the hubs when I lost the weight I was going to treat myself with two really nice pair of flattering jeans (I always buy off the clearance rack and they never fit right) but I think I have a loftier goal now for celebrating the shed! Thanks for the inspiration. You rock!

  6. Good luck Susan! I always say I will never run a marathon but there's this teeny part inside of me that wishes I could.

  7. Good luck! I definitely agree with a lot of what you said - running has helped me deal with my depression in a way that nothing else can. It's easily my favorite part of my day because it helps me clear my head. I definitely plan on running a marathon one day, but I'm sticking to 5K's for right now.

  8. Visiting and now following via GFC.

    Would LOVE to have you link up on my Bloglovin Blog Hop:
    Bloglovin Blog Hop

    Take care,
    Happy Kids, Inc

  9. Hey girl! I just signed up for a half marathon myself. Training has been crazy but I am SO excited to do it. Good luck! I am a new follower and wanted to stop by and personally thank you for linking up at my blog hop (Let's Be Friends). Glad I can follow your awesome blog! Super excited for more!


  10. You can do it, Susan!

  11. Thank you for writing something I could never put in words. This is so beautiful and enlightening to read!


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