Life is a journey with a beginning and an ending. For me, the marathon was an adventure with discovery to add to the dash between my years. As you know, life is filled with milestones, with detours, and along the way we learned what is most important is not the speed, but the resilience, determination and quality of growth that it brings.
In June of 2004 I decided to learn to ‘run’ only because I wanted the experience of participating in the October Chicago Marathon.
The experience was not only for me. It included my husband and our 9-year-old son to witness Mom doing something extraordinary, and to understand that anything is possible. I can basically say that running the Marathon was the victory lap for the training and the encouragement that my husband and son provided to me. It was a journey of discovery.
I knew I’d make the finish line and even it I didn’t, I questioned how can there ever be “losers” in a marathon.
What surprised me the most is the number of people who were obsessed with asking me the question, “what was your time?”
My authentic and heart-felt response, “it was the time of my life.”
Really, what difference does a number on the clock make?
This may sound crazy, but I did not want my Marathon to end. I took my time. I stopping for several minutes to nurture my knees with ice and, most importantly to talk with the other runners and volunteers. My personal best was a few weeks earlier with the 20-mile practice run. In my mind, the Marathon was the victory lap and I wanted to soak in all in.
During the Marathon, I felt the heart-beat rhythm of Chicago.
It was a rapid-pulsating-positive energy flowing from the spectators.
A blast of pure oxygen to hear men, women and children cheering for me with heartfelt words, “You go girl”, “You can do it” and “You’re almost there!”
The experience was transforming to discover the encouragement (some might say love) from the faces of strangers greeting me along the route.
To them, I was running their race. I was there ‘hero’.
There was a defining moment when I looked up to the second story window of a retirement home to find an old woman sitting in a wheel chair. Our eyes deeply locked, and in that very moment we knew each other’s heart beyond words. She gave me a firm nod and smiled an unforgettable smile that I still carry with me today. I was running for her, and for many others who could never take the risk either because of their own physical or mental limitations.
I do not consider myself part of a running community and I have not ‘run’ since the marathon. I am a power walker because it feels better on my knees.
I am attracted to people who like to stretch their mind, body and spiritual capacities. The mind has a way of manifesting itself on the physical side and having the experience of the marathon made me understand the power of keeping a true balance to avoid injury.
I discovered maintaining a balance is difficult to truly achieve. For me it is about balancing intensity with relaxation. Balancing myseriousness with playfulness. Balancing solitude with teamwork.
Anything is possible with the right support and frame of mind. It is about discovering what’s best for the unique journey.