It is an odd and somewhat surreal reality.
As this newspaper hits newsstands I am four days out from toeing the line of my third Full Marathon or am I? On Sunday, August 24 I hope to once again voluntarily run 26.2 miles through the rolling landscape of Santa Rosa as a participant of the 2014 Santa Rosa Marathon.
Yes, I actually paid the race organization for this opportunity.
Even now… just days away, I still don’t fully fathom what this ‘running business’ is all about and why three.
Well, that’s not completely true. The three just sort of happened. Running a marathon was never a bucket list item for me. I’m a ‘relatively’ new runner. I ran my first 5K in 2011 and it all just sort of spun from there. Honestly, I have had to read that sentence three times. It feels like more than three-and-a-half years, but time does indeed go fast … so it has.
It was running my first course Half Marathon (13.1 miles) that I first became intrigued by the marathon 26.2 distance. That race was in March of 2012. I was running it with my girlfriend Elizabeth to honor a friend we had lost to cancer. She (Liz) had run a marathon and well, since we had two-and-a-half plus hours to kill we talked … a lot.
She shared with me in brutal honesty the time it took to prepare for such a distance. The discipline, the agony and yes… the feeling of ‘Oh my goodness, I did that and I am invincible.’ Truthfully, I thought she was nuts, but I kept running.
As Half Marathons came and went, medals collected, the Full Marathon felt like the right challenge. I’ve covered this before in this space. This time around I’d like to share a bit more of what I’ve learned … on round three.
I’ve hinted at the ‘maybe,’ the ‘will I,’ that’s where the biggest lesson of this one lies.
The funny thing about the Marathon, more specifically, Marathon training is that it can truly be a mirror to life. Let me explain.
When you start your training program, you typically know what your goal will be. The goal may be as simple as to ‘just finish,’ improve on a past time or for some … run fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
All runners know there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ race day. We hope for decent/good weather, a slight breeze … preferably at our back and aid stations ready and free of congestion. Mostly we just hope for a good run. The day the stars collide, we wake up, hit the start and run free like a kid.
It’s never perfect. The finish is always undeniably an experience we savor for days, but races are never ‘perfect,’ by true definition. We make them perfect in our own unique way.
The ‘maybe’, the ‘hope to’ for me this go round is where my biggest lesson lies. I registered for this race so long ago; I’d have to check my bank statement to know for certain. I believe it was March? From the day you click ‘register’ until race day you truly don’t know what will come your way.
Translation: life continues to happen.
I am not an elite athlete with sponsors. I do not have a life which revolves around the motto of eat, train, run, repeat. My motto typically goes: wake, run, mom, mom, write, mom, cook, homework, sleep, repeat.
As ridiculous as it may sound, that actually sparks the intrigue and the drive. Can I make it all work? Can I balance my life as working mom and still make this happen? It’s the challenge. It’s the stretching of oneself to the point of am I nuts?
My friends would undoubtedly answer a yes to that last question, with much love and admiration. Many of them are equally as crazy and we manage our own ‘It’s normal Crazy’ support group, when we begin to wonder … what are we doing, again?
So now, with two behind me and a third on the horizon I stare down some adversity that had every intention of setting me back. Injury is not always run related yet it happens. Kids get sick, face personal challenges and sometimes need mom more than ‘average,’ moms do too.
In a nutshell number three has taught me life happens and we’re human. The concept of not toeing that line, is inconceivable but again I must remind myself … I’m a mom, not a sponsored runner.
The beauty of this life and this journey is that I travel it in good company. As my girlfriend Cathy and I spent one night hashing and rehashing what the past four months dealt both of us she summed it up perfectly … ‘There will be other Marathons.’
Five simple words I’ve offered so many, but was never on the other side of.
My hope is that come the first issue of September I will be reliving my lessons from a 26.2 mile course for each of you, today that’s just uncertain.
What I do know for certain is that regardless of the outcome … I’m not done. That’s the beauty of being ‘human’ we get to pick and choose. We learn life lessons and then we move on … to the next one.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.