Another year, another gorgeous Memorial weekend Saturday in Traverse City. Sleeping in, leisurely breakfast and casual strolling through the sunny streets this morning were a stark contrast to the daybreak events of 2014. The beautiful course and idyllic weather of the Bayshore Marathon last year marked my return to marathon after a nine-year hiatus. While finishing was a success for my conversion to CrossFit Endurance training, the final five miles were a slow, painful lesson in the importance of nutrition. If only the Moomers awaiting me at the finish line had been available at the aid stations along the course…
In classic post-race delirium, I declared this to be the last time I would ever run 26.2 miles at one time and my husband documented pictures of my distress as he, aptly, suspected this sentiment wouldn’t last. Within the hour, after multiple servings the creamy healing only Moomers Mint Chocolate Chip can provide, I was researching fall marathons. Though focus on triathlon and memories of past overwhelm from multi-marathon years prevented me from adding to my total finishes this year, I align more with my post-ice cream self and hold on the horizon the possibility of achieving the 50 marathons in 50 states in my lifetime.
Clearly an alluring event given the ever-increasing number of races and finishers each year, the marathon offers opportunity to face epic challenge with virtually guaranteed sense of accomplishment upon completion. Each of the half dozen times I have covered the distance in the past 15 years certainly hold special meaning, but I would pose that the significance of the marathon is much more than its 42.2 kilometers.
Considering the marathon to be an event requiring extended effort and endurance, there are many moments in life that embody its emotion. The nervous excitement of the start, ease of the early miles, struggle through the late and exhilaration of the finish can be felt in so many of life’s events just as they are in the marathon. Be it epic study-sessions, all-nighters tending to a sick child, days spent in the kitchen preserving farm goods for the dormant season or evening hours in the hospital caring for patients in need, phases familiar from the 26.2 can appear in the everyday.
Requiring the courage to start, the endurance to continue and the strength to finish, the test of physical, mental and emotional capacity of the marathon can be found in major life events as well.
My husband and I had the unique opportunity for our marriage to be officiated by my uncle, who had also married my parents nearly 40 years prior. His participation in this most important moment in our lives enriched the experience immeasurably, in no small part thanks to his suitable message likening marriage to a marathon. Throughout the decade since, we have drawn on his reminders to help each other through the toughest times, celebrate the mile markers and enjoy every step together.
In what would be more appropriately elevated to ultra-marathon status, my brother and his wife welcomed their firstborn son into the world yesterday. Portrayed through the scattered messages of texting, the birth process extended over three days in epic fashion and was highlighted by the powerful perseverance of the mama-to-be and steadfast support of her husband. The joyful relief depicted in the first precious photos of the new mother is profound. Through a more arduous experience than most of us can even imagine, she found unimaginable strength, reached the most special finish line, broke the tape and created a new beginning.
When life poses challenge, in an everyday experience or a monumental moment, may we trust the marathoner within, find the strength to endure and experience the exhilaration of accomplishment.
And now, I must close this entry as tomorrow marks the debut of the 2015 triathlon season for me, an event I enter encouraged by months of training and races past but more-so inspired by the profound power of my sister-in-law and reminded that we can find strength beyond our greatest expectations.