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Pt 2 “Mom, You’re registered for a full marathon!” No way! Not me!! Never!

Mary and I rocking the half marathon!  Finished in 3 hours 5 minutes!

Mary and I rocking the half marathon! Finished in 3 hours 5 minutes!

Two weeks before the Air Force Marathon, September 2010, my husband and I visited our Air Force son, Cody, at his base in Biloxi, MI.  While there, I just had to run along the flight lines.  It was so cool!!  I was really enjoying the jog/fast walk intervals.  (I never really understood the difference between jog and run, but I am pretty sure as slow as I was going and the minimal distance I covered each time…it was jogging.)  While we visited, Cody surprised me with the announcement he was coming home to run the FULL Air Force Marathon along with several of his friends.  I was so excited to know they would all be on the course and having a new experience together!  But I was in NO WAY interested in ever doing that!

During the half marathon, I had to make a quick potty stop.  I drink plenty of water and I didn’t know to plan around the pee stops.  There was a long line and it put me about 8 minutes behind Mary.  I needed to catch up!  So, I jogged until I found her.  I don’t know what the distance actually was but I smiled often as I realized I was actually jogging a portion of a half marathon.  I caught up with her and later, we crossed that finish line together and with great big smiles on our faces. We averaged 13 1/2 min/miles  for the first 5-6 miles.  We rocked!!  I loved every minute and knew I wanted to do it again the next year.  My son and his friends finished the full marathon.  They were sore, they struggled up and down the stairs.  I giggled at their misery.  And I knew, I never needed to do that…ever!!  Why??  Running (or jogging) 26.2 miles is just crazy!  And look at how much pain it causes!  Dah!  Why would anyone sign up for that?

During the Christmas season, Cody announced he was being deployed to Iraq for most of 2011.  He also announced that my Christmas gift was registration for the 2011 Air Force FULL Marathon.  He promised he would train while in Iraq and he would be home in time to run the full marathon WITH me.  My response….”What in our entire history together would ever give you the impression I wanted to or COULD do a full marathon!!??”  I was shocked, scared, stunned, defiant, and confused all at the same time.  But he was serious!  His answer, “Mom, you fast-walked a half marathon already.  Train to run a half marathon and even if you have to walk the rest, you will have finished a full marathon.”   He talked.  He coached.  He promised.  He even drew out a plan for how I could achieve it.  He deployed and I started training.  Why?  Because I was determined to make him proud!  I was excited he would be there with me. I wasn’t going to let him down. I knew the sacrifice he was making on this deployment.  All I had to do was jog.  So, I took the training very seriously.  I surprised myself!  My intervals lengthened.  My determination heightened.  My confidence increased.  My excitement escalated.  He coaches me very well!  From Iraq, he coached me how to run up and down the hills which was something I struggled with and avoided.  He taught me how the mind plays tricks on us while we run, but how we can play tricks right back.

Cody returned from Iraq about 10 days before the marathon.  He knew there was no way he could in-process to the base and make it up to Ohio in time to run the marathon.  What??  NO!!  I was terrified.  Now I would be alone!  All my training runs had been alone but with the knowledge Cody would be with me at the marathon.  Anxiety set it.  Then…. I had this thought!  Billy Ray Cyrus had this wonderful show called, “Surprise Homecoming”.  I just knew Cody was really going to be at the marathon!   I started having these fleeting thoughts and daydreams he would be there and at the finish line.  It would be him who would put the medal around my neck.  And….it was those thoughts that sustained me during the entire marathon.  What a great show it would be….  Mom runs marathon for son.  Son shows up from deployment and surprises Mom at the finish line.  Whenever I felt overwhelmed with the remaining distance to run, I would think about that finish line and Cody waiting.  And I’d be re-inspired and re-energized.

As I rounded that final curve, ran under the wings of those magnificent planes, and headed to the finish line I was almost smiling.  I knew it was almost over and I had done it.  But I also knew Cody would be waiting.  I saw the lines of officers handing out the medals as the runners came across the finish line.  I saw a young man in fatigues peak out from one of the officers and my heart jumped!  Cody!?!?  I headed to that chute.  As I got closer, the young man peaked again.  This time I was close enough to see his face.  NO!!  That’s not Cody!!  I cross the finish line, get my medal and look for my husband.  His smile melts my heart and I hold back the tears.  HE is so proud I can feel it.  We hug!  I am shocked I did it.  I actually ran a full 26.2 marathon  Who does that?  Who turns 50 and then decides to learn to run and then runs a marathon!  He tells me to call Cody and let him know I finished.  He hands me the phone but I can’t talk.  Now the tears flow unrestrained. Within moments all four of our boys are calling or texting with congratulations.  Both Cody and his twin brother, Britt, are ecstatic!  They make me cry because they are so proud of me.

I ran a marathon!  Really!!!

Oh…and that young man who was peaking out from behind the officer…he made the news!  He was waiting for his girlfriend to cross the finish line.  When she did, he proposed!  Again, my heart melted!

 

First marathon!  26.2 miles!  Sept 2011

First marathon! 26.2 miles! Sept 2011

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Pt 1… Running?? NOT ME!! Not now…not ever!! (How I got started.. )

Jogging or Running... doesn't matter!  It's about the GO!

Jogging or Running… doesn’t matter! It’s about the GO!

Running had never been of interest to me.  It was too hard!  I felt clumsy and awkward.  I never felt light and free.  Running was difficult!  I couldn’t run the distance from one telephone pole to another without feeling like my lungs would explode.  I couldn’t regulate my breath and I was embarrassed that someone might actually see me trying to run and failing miserably!   It seemed that running was so easy for others I didn’t understand why it was so difficult for me.  I could run short distances.  I played softball and had no trouble running to base.  Having said that, I acknowledge I was okay to run to the base but I was well aware I wasn’t very fast doing it.  My answer to that?  Hit the ball hard and send it flying far enough that I could actually get to base.  Hey!!  It worked!  I loved sports so I was willing to find a way to make the running tolerable.

While in college, our volleyball team frequently did distance runs up to 3 miles.  I was such an awkward teen I didn’t share my feelings of awkwardness, or my fears of distance runs with my teammates. They didn’t know how hard my heart pounded in my chest.  They didn’t know how frightened I was that I could literally die before we got back to the gym.  My coach had no idea how I struggled to breathe.  I kept it all to myself.  And I struggled!   In hindsight, I am absolutely positive every one of them would have supported me and cheered me to success.  However, I continued to keep my struggle and my dislike of distance running to myself.

All through my adulthood I continued to enjoy sports and being active.  I loved step-aerobics, dance, ballet, and yoga.  I became certified in Pilates and I loved teaching mat classes.  I have the most fun with Zumba!  P90X and other programs become fun for me.  When I saw my sister-in-law, Mary, was fast walking a half marathon, I told her that sounded like fun and I’d like to do it with her.  The following year, September 2010, she and I trained for and fast walked the US Air Force Half Marathon.  I loved the training walks.  We did many of them together but we also had to do much of our training alone.  We live over 10 miles apart so we kept track of each other and kept up the same pace, the same distances and took our training very seriously.  She would keep an eye on the time and pace of our training walks.  At times we walked so fast, I wanted to break into a jog.  I resisted because I remembered. Besides, I was 49 years old.  No one starts jogging at 49, right?

One morning that summer, while on a 4 mile walk by myself, I was pushed for time.  I was walking so fast I couldn’t resist the urge to jog.  I jogged about 20 yards and I immediately regretted it.  My heart was pounding out of my chest, there was throbbing in my ears, my lungs were burning and I was hoping no one noticed!  I slowed to a fast walk again.  Soon, I thought I would try it again.  No better feeling.  No better outcome.  Ugh!  I was listening to my iPod and I laughed out loud when I realized I hadn’t made it through one verse of the playing song.  But… to my credit, I continued to try.  All summer I worked at it.  My goal was to get farther each attempt.  I later learned those are called intervals.  Sometimes I would set a landmark goal ahead, like a tree or a driveway, and attempt to reach it. Other times, I would plan to get to the end of the current song.  Eventually, I was able to sustain a slow, comfortable jog for more than 20 yards!  Then, I set my sights on jogging the length of our driveway.  Then, it was to the end of the driveway AND back. My next big goal was to jog from beginning to end of a song.  I eventually did it.  I was so excited!!  By the end of summer, I could jog to the road and back 10 times!  I had no idea how long it was.  It didn’t matter.  I was learning to control my breathing, and jog longer distances.  Together, Mary and I fast walked about 14 min miles.  My slow jog was probably 13 min miles.  I didn’t care.  I could finally jog without fear of exploding lungs!  The funny part was I started to enjoy it.

We worked hard for this!  We rocked it!

We worked hard for this! We rocked it!

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