I ran a marathon last year. Well, “run” is probably a stretch of the word. It was more like the slowest slog (aka slow half barely standing jog) known to humankind. But after over 8 hours in the searing heat of Los Angeles, I successfully crossed the finish line in 21,435th place. Huzzah!
Running is rarely about running and this was no exception. I had signed up for the LA Marathon as a whim. Something inside of me was dying to do something I hadn’t done before and this seemed like the logical choice to satisfy that nagging. So I signed up, cobbled a running schedule together, and began to “train.” Running here, running there, running to meet friends rather than driving to them—my friends and family started to worry that I had tossed out all my normal clothes for spandex.
And then I stopped running. Long hours at the office coupled by a grueling commute had gobbled up all the running time. I barely had enough time in the day to have dinner with my family let alone run when my body sent me a clear message in the January prior to the March marathon in LA. I began hemorrhaging. On a conference call in the confines of my desk, I began bleeding everywhere. Scared, I drove myself to urgent care where I found that at age 41 I was pregnant but in the process of losing the baby. The grief was intense, but more intense was the deep well of hope that filled inside. I could still have another child. I could still have a life—a life not riddled by conference calls and egos. A beautiful life filled with adventures with my husband and daughter. This life is for the living and I wanted to wrap my lanky arms around it.
In the days that followed, the hemorrhaging eventually stopped and my body started to heal, but my mind was overtaken with thoughts of “what next.” Against my doctor’s advice, I booked my travel to LA. I was going to run that marathon. I needed to get on this “next” stuff. I needed to prove that I was worthy of the hope gifted to me.
So without properly training, I began to run a marathon on March 15, 2015. Out of Dodger’s Stadium into the surrounding neighborhoods, the sun poking its head up above sleeping LA. I ran for my lost little peanut, talking to her each step of the way, showing her that her mama was worthy of the hope she provided. Lengthening my stride, getting stronger by the moment, we ran together through Little Tokyo, Chinatown, downtown, and then finally into Hollywood. At mile 13, I said goodbye to her and then began running for myself. At times I could barely move my legs after taking a quick break, using my hands to pull up on my legs to create momentum again. The heat had intensified and by noon was well into the 90s. The vomiting started almost immediately. I would pull off to the side, heave, hydrate, and then pummel myself back into action. Repeating until I found myself at mile 23 with the Pacific Ocean in sight and a wonderful girl named Senga at my side. We talked about travel, work, and most importantly, change. Senga had been an MBA grad who had recently ditched her career in finance to pursue a music career. We talked about possibilities and then we proved that anything was truly possible when our bodies stubbornly crossed the finish line in 21,434th and 21,435th place, respectively.
This is the first time I have written about this experience. Much has happened since last March, as this run was the first step in a series of significant changes to right some wrongs and more importantly, test what I am made of mentally and physically. As it turns out, I’m a pretty tough kid. A hopeful, tough kid.