Tomorrow morning, I will wake up entirely too early for a weekend and much earlier than all normal, sane people should ever wake up. I will put on clothing made entirely of too much spandex for someone my age and body type. I will pin my number onto the front of my shirt and hope that it hides the soft doughy rise of my pale, stretch-marked belly spilling over the spandex from my pants. Tomorrow, I will run the Naperville Marathon, my first and only marathon.
I’ve been training for months, almost a year. In the time it has taken me to train for this sucker, I could’ve conceived a baby, carried it for 40 weeks and delivered it. I didn’t. I chose another way to abuse my body instead. During my training, I’ve received a lot of advice. Some of it was bizarre: Don’t eat anything before the race! Drink only small amounts of liquid during the race and eat M&M’s! Some of it was obvious: Follow a training plan. Stay hydrated. Rest the day before the race.
The best advice I’ve received about preparing for the marathon I actually received from 2 people who have never met each other. I’ve decided that simply for that fact alone this must be the best advice:
Dedicate each mile to a reason why you are running or a person for whom you run.
On the eve of my first marathon, this is exactly what I shall do.
26.2 Reasons why I’m running 26.2 miles
1. For me. I probably should list God or my kids or some other truly awesome altruistic thing as my first reason, but I won’t. I’m often overwhelmed by crowds and noise. This first mile is going to be all about focusing me on me, on running, on the simple beautiful rhythm and cadence of my feet hitting pavement.
2. Redemption. Last year was supposed to be my first marathon. I registered to run the Fox Valley Marathon in Saint Charles, IL. It was a horrible spring and summer for my allergies and asthma. I collapsed on mile 14 during my training and was unable to run the marathon.
3. To show my asthma I’m boss. I hate my asthma and stupid inhaler, truly hate them both. Consistent running significantly reduces how often I use my inhaler.
4. To eat junk food. A lot of junk food.
5. For Rosie, my running dog.
6. 26.2 magnet for my mini-van. Yup, I’m pimping my suburban mini-van with it. Out here in the ‘burbs, that’s hardcore!
7. For Jenn and Jen. Jenn, thank you for losing your marathon virginity with me, encouraging me to sign-up and getting me the coveted 26.2 magnet. Jen, thank you for sending me inspirational messages and running with me.
8. For an excuse to listen to awful pop music.
9. For Sharon, Lisa, Lucy, Tara, Megan, Shannan, Nikki, Tracy, Brandi and Kathy. Thank you for all of your support during this last year. There are no words, so I shall sweat, spit and swear for you tomorrow.
10. For Chad. Thank you for being my for real and forever friend.
11. To feel the wind in my hair.
12. To feel the sun on my face. I really hope the sun comes out tomorrow. Is that too much to ask for?
13. For some time alone with my thoughts.
14. For the people who questioned if I should run a marathon.
15. For the assholes who actually said I wouldn’t be able to do it.
16. For the one person who once told me only crazy people run marathons, that the human body wasn’t designed to run a marathon, that it was too much of a risk for me – a mother- to run it and he wouldn’t support me if I did.
17. To feel young. Running makes me feel young again. Even though each day, a new grey hair or wrinkle or sometimes both on the same day appears, running makes me feel young and alive.
18. For the Coulotte gals. You are the coolest cats I know. Thank you for sharing your lives with me, for making me appreciate all things Kardashian and for making me laugh and cry because both are equally important and remind us that we are alive!
19. For the BCB’s. You are an incredible group of strong, intelligent, beautiful, sassy women. I love each and every one of you. I am blessed to call you my friends.
20. For my family. Whether you talk to me or not, whether you refuse my overtures or embrace them, I love you all.
21. For Patrick. You are the most positive and strongest person I’ve ever met. No matter how many times life kicks you in the balls, uh ball, you always get back on your feet and move forward.
22. For my mom. You are my hero. You always have been and you always will be. I’m the luckiest daughter in the universe to have you, your love and your support in my life.
23. For Grayson. You were born way too early, wearing the most ridiculous toupee I’ve ever seen and fighting for each breath. You amazed all of us with your strength and you continue to amaze and inspire me each day.
24. For Ashton. Since the moment you were born, you’ve always been my sunshine. With your rebel cowlicks, mischievous mask of freckles and unique dry wit mixed with intelligent reflection, you illuminate my world.
25. For Cleo. I never really knew how amazing a mother’s love could be until I held your warm, compact, still-slippery, newborn 8 pounds, 2 ounces in my arms. You, my first-born child, taught me everything I really needed to know about mothering, patience, trusting my instincts and love.
26.2 For me. I shall end as I began. This last 1.2 is for me. Because I’m strong and I’m resilient, and it’s about damn time I started believing in myself again.
Tomorrow, I shall run my first marathon. I shall finish it. I have yet to find out if I’m a pooper, pee-er, puker or a bleeder, but I do know that when I cross that finish line no matter the time – I AM A WINNER!
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