Monday, October 25, 2010


As much as a week before the marathon I wasn't sure I'd be able to run it. I had developed a nagging hip flexor strain that wasn't improving with time or rest or advil or ice. In fact, the discomfort (which had spread to my quad and my knee) got so bad it woke me up out of a sound sleep a week before the race.

I lay in bed and brought myself to tears thinking that all of this training and hard work would be wasted. But what brought on a rush of tears was the possibility that my sweet little girls wouldn't see their mommy cross the finish line. I wanted them to be proud of me, to see what hard work can accomplish. I envisioned my 25th mile, knowing that Ava and Anna in their sweet little voices would be cheering for me. I was crushed to think that wouldn't happen.

I steadied my breathing and as quickly as the tears came on, they stopped. I had a different realization.

Teaching my girls how to handle disappointment was just as valuable a lesson as crossing the finish line of a marathon. 

I felt peaceful as I mulled this realization over. I had been perceiving my injury as a personal failure. I had done something wrong, wasn't careful enough, wasn't "strong" enough to just run through it. I messed up.

In my mind, not running=failed.

I worked over the next several days on two things:

1. Receiving treatment on my injury from a sports-related physician.
2. Changing my perception and accepting that not running was not failing.

To help with #2, I asked myself these questions, "How would you want your daughters to feel if this were them? How would you want them to react? What advice would you give them?"

And this is how I answered it:

I would want them to feel peaceful. I would want them to not be discouraged and to not be hard on themselves. I would want them to love themselves and get the care and the rest that they need, trust in God's plan, and surrender the outcome. I would want them to smile big and say to themselves, as they say now when milk spills or the last bite of cake drops on the floor, "well, sometimes that's just the way the cookie crumbles." 

We all know how this story ends. I ran the marathon. Fast. I crossed the finish line.

And there, waiting for me at the end were two of the most beautiful and kind and sensitive and sweet little girls I have ever met in my life.

I am quite sure that surrendering the outcome (and having more tape on my body than a piece of Ava's artwork) had something to do with my readiness to run. I am resting the injury now, which isn't an easy thing to do. But I know I will be stronger on the other side of it and I am looking forward to moving my body in different ways while it heals and gaining new perspectives along the way.

Considering the pain and fear and challenges and illnesses that too many people are dealing with today, writing about a hip flexor injury seems rather insensitive. As does the disappointment of my daughters not seeing me cross a finish line. Whoopdeedoo.

But the underlying realizations it prompted in me--acceptance, gratitude, selflessness-- will have much wider and deeper application in my life. I promise you that.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Boston Qualified

I did it.

I ran my personal best in the Baltimore Marathon yesterday: 3:38:38

My friend Erin and I have been rising at 4:15a most weekdays and every Saturday for the past four months to run in the dark, the heat, the cold, the heat, the wet, the heat--all so that we're back before the kids have been up for too long. We've run hills till our quads screamed and so fast till our lungs ached.

And it was worth every bit of lost sleep, every ounce of ache and pain.

I have much more to say about the race and especially the the last four miles (which really came down to an out-of-body experience.) This wasn't my first marathon, but it was definitely my most...memorable. So I really will get back to write more later this week. And post some pictures too.

But I also want to note that my little brother, who just started running in MAY, ran the marathon too. And I mean ran it. He didn't stop, didn't walk, didn't give up once.

So now I'm going to hobble up from this seat and make my way to the couch. And I'm going to force allow myself to do nothing but sit. For a bit.