It was May 2006 when I decided to take things out of my “I’ll do someday list” and put into my “doing now list.” I have always wanted to run and finish a marathon before I die. Since I wasn’t getting any younger, when would NOW be the best time to start? I announced my plan to several friends and family. Two weeks later, one of my dear friends Richard Moxley called and said registration for the Marine Corp marathon was opening in an hour and would I like for him to register me? I panicked, because saying yes meant – I had to do it. Then I remembered my commitment – to finish a marathon before I died – so told him yes. Now what is important to note here is that I am a non runner. I’ve never run further than 3 miles…ever. I had no idea HOW I was going to do it – just that I was committed to completing a marathon.
I began running and discovered that running was the hardest thing I’d ever done. I ran on my own for about 4 weeks and honestly was ready to throw in the towel when one night my friend Richard – the same one who got me into this mess, asked how it was going. I told him how hard it was and how much I doubted being able to do it. He looked me straight in the eye and say “Trish, running a marathon is 80% mental and 20% training. Do you know what you need? A running buddy.” And that sounded really good, then out of no where – his wife volunteered to be my running buddy. I play the YES game, so of course, I said yes. We had exactly 16 weeks to train before the race, she helped me plan runs, nutrition, sent me to the right running store for equipment and off we went. I met Cheryl each Saturday morning for our long runs. Every Friday I had trouble sleeping, because the next day meant that I would run further than I’d ever run before. The really cool part about running your first marathon is each week you are literally running further than you’ve ever gone in your life! We’d run 6 miles, then the next week 8 miles, then 10 miles…until, ultimately…26.2 miles! My husband was concerned in the beginning and he actually tried to talk me out of it because he knows how hard it is for me to breathe – the doctors call it asthma – but I never bought into it. I control my mind and my mind controls my body. No asthma here. So clearly, I had no need for an inhaler either.
There were many challenges along the way. Running was literally the hardest thing I’d ever taken on and now I was committed to a Marathon. Wow! I had no idea how I would do it, I just knew that I wanted to complete a marathon. So I began to visualize. I would see the crowd cheering me on and at the end, I saw the marines clapping and cheering me on to the finish line. I could literally hear the cheering in my head, the clapping and roaring – it felt so real that it brought tears to my eyes imagining what it was going to feel like to cross that finish line. To do the impossible! To run a marathon! There was a song by Kelly Clarkson: A Moment Like This. I put it on my ipod and when it would come on during my runs it would move me to tears – Can I really do this? Can I run a marathon? I began to picture that song as I crossed the finish line. “A moment like this…some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this.” It was the hardest thing I’d ever set out to do and all I could think about was how amazing it was going to be to cross the finish line.
Race day: I was nervous, I cried during the national anthem, I cried walking to the start line, (just the thought of crossing the finish line moved me to tears) the gun went off, I crossed the start line and all I knew was the next rest stop was 26.2 miles away. It was amazing, you couldn’t have prepared me for running in a pack of people like that, people wrote funny sayings on there clothes, some people were running for lost soldiers, others running for fun, I was running to the finish line. It was fun, at the five mile mark I announced to my run buddy – I can’t wait to run my next marathon, by mile 10 I was recanting that statement.
Miles 17-20 were lonely miles, the course looped out by the water and few spectators went there, it was windy, and my legs were beginning to feel the soreness of the previous miles. I kept thinking about the finish line – and how amazing it was going to feel when I crossed it. I even imagined a tape line for me to run through. Now I run fairly slow, so there would be no tape for me, but it was fun to imagine. All I really cared about was getting past the 20 mile mark where, if you were too slow, they would pull you from the course and your race was over. I got to 20 miles and made the cut, I was going to complete my marathon! All I had to do was keep moving forward. My commitment to finish carried me through those last 6.2 miles of the race.
The finish line!!!!
That was all I had to think about to keep my tired body moving. Those last 6 miles are permanently etched in my mind. My running buddy Cheryl was a god send, you never met a girl like this one, she is the most positive person I know and there is literally no room in her listening for whining, complaining or any self indulgent negative emotion whatsoever. We got to the last .2 miles of the race (holy rollers it was up a flipping hill! Who are the sadists who designed this course?) We began up the hill, Cheryl motoring up the hill like she had wings, me struggling like I was carrying an anvil behind me. Half way up I stopped to walk, she got 10 steps beyond me and turned to see where I went, she put her hands on her hips and looked at me like what happened, took two steps toward me and I couldn’t let her come any further, I began to run again (man – did I mention how much I hate hills). We got up the hill and I thought for sure I was going to die, so I kept going, of course! The finish line…was rumbling in my head like a beating drum and about 20 seconds later, there it was, lined in balloons, the soldiers cheering. It was exactly like I had pictured, only now my body disappeared, the aches, the discomfort, the wheezing were gone, the lungs no longer burning. The excitement of actually seeing the finish line had me. I was really going to do it, my God, it is really happening to me.
Just thinking about it now, I am instantly transported back to that magical moment of crossing the finish line. I can see the finish line now and it’s calling me exactly like I’d imagined it would. The Marines were cheering and my run buddy wrapped her arm in mine and we charged the finish line together! In that moment, it was true. I could do ANYTHING I set my mind to and now I had proof. Now I knew it too. I am powerful beyond measure and in that moment and many moments since, I know life is calling me forth to be great! I now know that I can do anything I’m willing to commit to, ANYTHING! And by the way…so can you!