By the time this post goes up on today, it will be my 27th birthday (!!), and I will have crossed the finish line at the Santa Rosa half marathon. Age 26 was a challenging yet ultimately very good year, and whether or not I run across or crawl, I will somehow have made it to that finish line (and the awaiting pancakes).
And so, I dedicate yesterday’s run to anyone who’s ever been told they couldn’t do something.
To anyone who’s been met with obstacle after obstacle when you’ve tried to reach a goal.
To anyone who has struggled and dreamed and believed in something with their whole heart.
And to anyone who’s ever, even for a mere second, felt like maybe, just maybe, they might not measure up.
For much of my life, I’ve been told by doctors and medical jargon and concerned loved ones that me and running? We’d never make it. Although I’m otherwise healthy and average, I was born with a condition that [very long story short] causes your endurance to be nonexistent every few weeks, requiring proper and consistent medical treatment. If it wasn’t for my identity as a runner starting to attempt longer distances, this would hardly be much of a talking point here. This blog is not and never will be about that condition so I’ll probably never write in more detail about it, but I didn’t think I could fairly describe the importance of completing this half marathon without acknowledging it…. my love for running, you see, has long been connected to it.
I started running in college because I wanted to be an athlete like my best friend and my dad. I wanted to prove that I could be a runner regardless of what I’d been told my whole life.
Running, and eventually accomplishing a half marathon, became subconsciously tied to proving myself….to myself. Proving that I could really do anything if I wanted it bad enough, if it meant enough, and that I could achieve the fitness test I’d put on the highest of shelves (the half marathon), regardless that most everyone else told me it was crazy to try.
That I could be the exception to the rule. That maybe you really could do anything if your heart was big enough.
The girl who doctors wouldn’t let participate in the President’s Physical Fitness Test in P.E. class. The girl who had to sit out of running the mile in middle school.
Running became a test of my mortality, of my dedication, and of my inner strength.
Even so, it ironically took swimming through a low point of my life to actually get the courage to confidently run my very first race, almost a year ago (the Marine Corps Marathon 10K). It smacked out any semblance of fear I might have had about my abilities hidden deep down, and at the moment I headed to the start of that little 10K, I was anxious to know I still had strength left within me. That race reinvigorated me and from then on I knew the impossible race — the distance I’d literally signed up for at least three other times before only to cave to injury — was attainable.
Throughout my running career, I’ve been injured more than a handful of times, doctors and even my family often assuming my body just wasn’t “meant” to bear the stress of running. I’d imagine a number of you out there can relate, for your own reasons. Training for this race, with its longer mileage, was not a piece of cake. I’m pretty fit, but some days even a simple three miler during the 12 weeks of training felt like a hardship. I would either plow through, annoyed with myself for having to stop and catch my breath, or readjust the schedule to accommodate when I knew I’d be feeling better.
And now, in the shadow of my first (and probably not my last!) half marathon, I feel like I can cross off one of the sincerely most important things I’ve ever done from my life’s to-do list.
This post feels very personal, almost uncomfortably so, but it was important to me to share why this half was so significant to me. Life is about doing the things you are scared of, testing your limits, and of trying to quite literally carpe diem.
I did it.