One week from today, I will run the Twin Cities Marathon, completing my 10th marathon alongside my sweat sister, Katie. My first marathon in 2001 was miserable. I didn't train well and not only did my finishing time reflect it, my body felt it for weeks after. I knew I could do better. I knew I could go faster. So I kept signing up for marathons. Training my mind and body to work harder and stay disciplined.
Running has provided healing and clarity through many of life’s events. I can still recall my first run after I had Jack. My first run after my miscarriage. My first run after finding out my mom had liver cancer. My first run after Andrew died. Those events were shocking, and some very painful or simply tragic, and running has helped me process each of these life altering experiences, and has also been a time of worship and connecting with God. Along with, my best ideas for Jack’s Basket have come from my long runs.
I’ve found many parallels of running a marathon and having a child with a developmental delay. You see the milestones for Jack come at his own pace and I could so easily become discouraged in what Jack 'should' be doing at the age of 6. Appreciating the amazing effort it takes for Jack to achieve these milestones, helps me avoid the comparison trap. He works harder than any of us do. Some of the skills that he has acquired have been after hours of physical, occupational, and speech therapy, but ultimately, his milestones come on his timeline. Not mine. There was a time I truly accepted that he is 'running his own race' and when I surrendered my own selfish desires, my eyes were open to a new perspective.
It’s not about the outcome, it’s about the process. Jack has taught us to enjoy the journey. The same thing happens in marathon training. Most of the growth happens when I’m tempted to sleep in, skip a run, take the flat course versus the hilly one, battle through even when my legs are tired, my mind is foggy, and when it’s so much easier to give up. But I go anyway and I never have regretted it. I’ve realized I am much stronger than I thought, and mostly it’s because I accepted, I tried, I showed up, and committed. Anything can happen on the day of the marathon, but the strength and growth in myself through the past 16 weeks of training is what has made the biggest impact on me.
The best way I can describe how I feel when celebrating Jack's milestones is when you go to a marathon and you watch the elite runners gliding past the mile markers as if they are floating, looking as if it takes no effort. As you continue to watch the pace of the runners get slower, you start to see the amount of strength it takes for each of them to take a step forward. The determination in their whole body to get to that finish line. The mental, physical, and emotional effort to keep going. I can't go to a race anymore without my eyes filling with tears. Each of these individuals has a story and motivation for each step which is honorable and inspiring. Don't give up.
Watching Jack achieve milestones motivates me and makes me better.
I could have given up when I crossed that line after the first marathon in 2001. But 1000s of miles later, with a lot of sweat, tears, 3 Boston qualifying runs, and unforgettable memories, I have achieved many hard things that I didn’t know I could have. But this time, my 10thmarathon, I have the best reason to run, for someone that shows me each day how to work hard and get better.
Jack, I’m running for you. You make me better.
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