In 2008 I ran the Orange County Marathon. I have never been much of a distance runner. I don’t have long legs, endurance, or the mental fortitude required to run, run and run. In High School I wanted so badly to be a part of a team. Any team. I first started with tennis and quickly discovered that I have little hand-eye coordination, so I moved on to track and field.
I had one of the best coaches out there, Mickey Hall, father of Olympian, Ryan Hall. Folks, I ran with a future Olympian…for about three seconds until I was eating his, and the whole teams dust. I lasted one season.
Then I took on cheerleading. Horrible, just horrible. I couldn’t remember the cheers and had to rely on my best friend to remember the moves. I loved the dance portion, and the cute uniforms, but frankly I was no good. Alas we came from a small school and I guess they would take anyone.
After high school my best friend started running. Like really running, she started doing 5k’s, 10k’s, marathons and ultimately an Ironman. This girl is badass, and every time I talk to her I find myself extermely inspired toward this level of athleticism.
In 2007 she told me about this amazing organization, Team In Training that helps raise funds and awareness through such athleticism. If you signed on you’d be raising money for leukemia and lymphoma research as well as sponsoring families that needed financial assistance. Though an unlikely marathoner I signed up. I trained with a team for months and then on a cool Orange County morning clocked my 26.2, the slowest in my age range, but a finisher nonetheless.
With the expection of chasing my kids I haven’t run since, nor do I plan to. Since that first marathon my ankles have cracked, my hips have hurt and I seem to have a never-ending case of shinsplints. That marathon broke me.
A couple weeks ago I met with a publisher to pitch my first book. She was kind but told me that I freshman attempt would not be the right fit for her publishing house.
“What are your other ideas?” She asked.
I hesitated. I wanted to tell her about my BIG story. The one that’s been on my heart for over twenty years, the one about grief, loss, redemption, but I was scared. I am scared. Because this story is not mine alone to tell. Because I want to do the story true justice. Because I’m afraid that it will break me like the marathon, leaving me cracking and stiff.
I’ve been thinking a lot about it the past few weeks since that meeting and then realized something about the marathon. It didn’t matter if I was the slowest, it didn’t matter if my ankles now crack, if wouldn’t have even mattered if I came in dead-last, what mattered is that I finished. I finished. This concept of finishing has been impressed upon me from a young age. It started with my tee-ball days, then tennis, track and field, cheerleading, collage, so on and so forth. Mom always made me finish, and then when I became an adult, I always made me finish. So, why not the story too?
Even if I come in dead last, even if it takes me forever, even if it leaves me with cracking wrists and forces me to pour out my heart it beckons, “finish, finish, finish.”