I promised myself I would run a marathon after each baby was born. It was a promise I would keep. Thirteen months after Jackson was born, I ran the Ridge to Bridge Marathon in North Carolina. Sixteen months after Parker was born I ran the Huntsville Marathon in Alabama with Jamie. These races were an attempt to reclaim a part of my life that fell away during my pregnancies. I was hoping to remember who I was, to restore my identity.
I first became a runner soon after Jamie and I were married. I glean tremendous joy from chosing a race, training for it, and then putting myself to the test on race day. It provides a great opportunity for obsessive compulsive micromanaging, which control freaks such as myself enjoy. I’ve been getting ready for the Las Vegas Half Marathon since way back in March. Most of that time was just me thinking about the race, registering, and buying a plane ticket. It was not until September that the hard work started.
Consistent running has been difficult for me for years. I’ve struggled with it since my children were born and it went from bad to worse after my thyroidectomy last Decemeber. I’ve been tired; I’ve been overwhelmed; I’ve not been myself.
All of that changed right before my 34th birthday. I found my groove and have steadily plugged away at three runs a week getting ready for this race. My runs have been far from excellent. I’ve started out too fast on long runs and struggled horrifically during the last few miles. I’ve had achey lungs, I’ve plodded, I’ve walked, I’ve complained, most often to Jamie but also to my friend and running partner, Mike.
A fews weeks back I was having one of those runs that are characterized by too many beers the night before. As Mike and I shuffled down the Greenway, I explained my latest epiphany: it seems that runners must, in some way, like to torture themselves. When we are pushing our limit in pace or distance, it hurts. When we are unprepared, we are miserable. Sometimes it’s the conditions that get the best of us – the heat, the rain, the wind. There is physical pain. There is mental warfare. There is struggle. Yet, I keep coming right back to it.
Running is very much like living. It’s an endurance event. There are long hills we climb and summit. At the top, we stand proudly taking in the beautiful view we are so fortunate to behold. We recognize the effort that went into it all. We are in awe of what was possible on that day – of all that our eyes saw, of strength and ability, of the fine people we’ve shared it all with. Running and life both hold the promise of amazement.
Then again, there are the moments we struggle through it all. We can’t gain any traction. We are exhausted. We are hurting. We feel like despite all our effort, we are getting no where, making little progress. We fail at an endeavor and grieve what never was. Running and life both hold the promise of hardship.
Yet we go forth. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other. We hold onto the hope that the struggle is worth it – that all the good stuff is still out there somewhere, even if we can’t quite see it right now.
Last Friday, when I set out for Las Vegas with two of my sisters, we arrived at the airport in Greensboro and were immediately bumped to a flight that would get us to Las Vegas EARLIER than our original flight. What? That never happens! Then the gate employee gave us three tickets for a free adult beverage. We were flying high. All was well.
Six hours later we landed in Vegas. Somewhere between getting off the plane and arriving at the rental car depot, my wallet was lost or stolen. The night plummeted hard and fast.
I first thought I could have left it on the plane. I had purchased a pair of headphones, so I was certain I’d had it on the flight. I back tracked to the Delta ticket counter hoping someone had found it on the plane and turned it in. There was no such luck. It was no where to be found. St. Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes, had far more dire events to attend to.
My stomach was in knots. Here I was in Vegas with no identification and no money. The cash I brought with me was gone forever by now. Things were going horribly awry.
I sat on a bench stewing over it all while I waited for my sisters to pick me up outside the airport. With some time, I realized life will go on, with or without my wallet. The half marathon on Sunday will go on. I am well. We are safe. It could all be so much worse.
Running and life are a mixed bag. They are candy and cavities, summer and sunburn, Vegas and pick pockets. Through the highs and the lows we will keep on moving.
We will endure.
This is all I am sure of.
Now, I’m off to spend other people’s money. Thank goodness for sisters. I promise I’ll pay you all back, if I can just get back home without my I.D.