The number one question people ask is “Why would you want to run a marathon?”
And there isn’t an easy answer. Or maybe, more appropriately, it’s that there isn’t just one answer.
Because it’s there. And I can. Rules are meant to be broken; challenges are meant to be met and overcome. I ran it because it’s there and it’s scary and it’s hard to do. And because something greater than my feet and my legs and my cardiovascular system– something else in me– said “I can.”
Because 100 voices in my lifetime said “you can’t” and 101 voices said “you can.” We often forget how influential our words can be, or how an individual might carry each phrase or lesson with them for a long time. Sometimes, we spend the most time listened to our own voice telling us we can’t do something because we won’t be the best at it.
But I was absolutely blessed to grow up with a family that encouraged all of my craziest ideas. A big sister that was not embarrassed to tell me she was proud of me. A mom who, by example, taught her daughters to be strong women, to be leaders, to stand up for themselves and for what is right, to have strong voices. A dad who never waivered in his pride in his girls, who encouraged sportsmanship and leadership, who continues to be one of the best examples of citizenship in my life, and who reminds me often to never take life or myself too seriously. And I can’t forget an extended family that, while small in size, is filled to the brim with support and well-wishes for every endeavor and a hearty helping of ‘we-knew-you-could’s after each success.
Because I can control the outcome. One of the greatest lessons I have learned in my young adult life, post-graduate school, is that there are a lot of things that happen to me and around me (or without me) that I cannot control. Talk about frustrating. Ever since the days of returning from a friend’s house crying, stomping around because ‘they wouldn’t play the way I wanted!’ I have desired to set the rules. And none too democratically, in most cases.
Turns out, at 25 years old, there are fewer and fewer situations where you can take all your toys and go home (a phrase my family still uses today!). Having an often unsteady and uncertain job situation, losing people who I love and carry an important part of my history, and experiencing first-hand how unfair a tornado in a community in crisis feels, I spent many weeks in the last year feeling caught up in a chaos where I did not and could not set the rules.
So I took all my toys… and went to the gym. And I set the training schedule and nutrition rules. And I said “No, I have to run tonight.” And I didn’t let anything confuse the final goal or knock me (too far) off course. And at the end of even the most awful days, I controlled the distance, the tempo, the playlist. I owned the successes and I owned the failures along the way. And thus, on October 2, 2011, I owned the ultimate success. I owned that finish.
Because I said I would. Call it stubborn. Call it tenacious. Call it foolish. No matter the name, I said I would run a marathon, and dammit, I ran a marathon. And you know what? I bet I can do anything.
That’s why I ran a marathon.