Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Back in 8th grade, I was told that I should not study a foreign language in high school. Having dealt with nearly paralyzing shyness, a learning disability, and struggling through elementary school and junior high, I was advised that a language would be too difficult for me and that I should focus on the basics, rather than add to my work load in high school.

Game on. Sign me up.

From the many languages at my disposal, I chose the language of my lineage, German. Difficult, at best, and quite a surprise to the administrators and teachers who were trying to steer me away from what they thought would be certain failure. One might argue that they had my best interests in mind, but I argued that they were challenging me, and I accepted.

Between a heavy workload of music classes and the usual math, history, English, and science, I was determined to show them that they were wrong. I *could* handle it. The first couple years were tough, but, high school isn't exactly a cake walk no matter what you're studying. By junior year, more than half my day was filled with vocal and instrumental instruction, and a bulk of my time outside of school was spent in private lessons and independent practice. I was that kid who worked their butt off to anchor the flute section and stay buried among the sopranos, but I loved every single second of it.

With the support and help of two very dedicated German instructors, I did not quit like I wanted to those last two years. I didn't want to let "them" win. For as much work as I had to put in to just passing, though, even *I* didn't want to fail. Luckily, my teachers and my parents didn't let me. They helped me, they supported me, and most of all, they believed in me, even when I didn't.

As a final act of defiance, I chose German as my major field of study in college. I admit, this was really just because taking introductory German classes as a Freshman seemed like a good way to get some easy A's. Let's be real. With two amazing instructors who helped, encouraged, and supported me through some very difficult times, I earned my B.A. in German. There were even (very brief) times when I thought about continuing my education and pursuing a career as a translator. No, I didn't follow through with that, but to even have those thoughts was a pretty monumental thing for me.

Fast forward to 2010, when a friend of mine asked me to run a 5K race with him over the July 4th holiday. HA! I had run some in college with a friend, but, to say that I'd ever really 'run' was laughable. In college, we would run in the absence of a car to visit each other. We would run up and down the steps of the football stadium and all the upper level steps in the basketball arena. For fun. Twisted, not really fun, fun, of course. Trust me, aside from my friend's company, it wasn't really all that fun. Most of the time.

They never called me Sporty Spice
So to do a 5K when I hadn't laced up my shoes in (a few) years was more of a joke to me than an invitation. With two kids and a desk job, my most rigorous exercise was bathing my children and shaving my legs. Finally I agreed, mostly to get him to stop asking, but also because I figured I was up for the challenge.

My time in that race was more than a number on a clock. It was now my newest challenge. I could do better than that, and I would. Slowly, I replaced time with my therapist with time in my running shoes. I also regained a little of my pre-mom self and found a competitive spark that had been dormant for many years.

Since nobody is ever happy with our station in life, when you begin running, you're like that single girl at the office that everyone thinks should be dating, then married, then having kids. You do a 5K, now when are you doing a 10K, or a half marathon, then when are you doing a full marathon? It never ends. So, in following with my spirit of facing the challenge, I decided to sign up for the Chicago Marathon 2012.

My body had other ideas for me in 2012, and I injured my hip in the pursuit of that marathon. Scratch the year off the record. It would have been easy to give up and just stop running altogether, of course. When you can barely walk, who wants to think of running? Me.

Last year was filled with physical therapy, failed attempts to show I was healed, more physical therapy, and finally - no more running. More coffee. More wine. Where'd I put the number for my therapist?

....with wine...
There was no way I was going to let my hip keep me from this marathon. Did I believe I could do it? Hardly. Did I want to prove to myself and others that I could? Totally. Especially after being sidelined by something that only I had control over.

Since little comes easy for me, it was only fitting that even registering for the marathon wouldn't be easy. At least this time, it wasn't just me that the Gods were trying to test. Luckily, I got in without having to endure weeks of waiting to be chosen by Lottery.

In hindsight, I can honestly say that I've worked my butt off to get to this point. I still don't know that I am certain I can do this, but, I have allowed myself to have the confidence to make others believe that I think I can. I've even got others thinking that I can!

I have had some awesome support throughout my return to running and my marathon training. It means more to me than I can even try to explain. Who would have thunk that anyone would get their butts out of bed to meet *me* at O-dark:30 on Saturday mornings during the summer so I could run seemingly endless miles with great company? How many people are fortunate enough to be part of a team of runners whose common goal is to have fun while doing something that we love? And holy hell, who would have thunk that I'd ever get back into those size 8's that I secretly kept in my closet?
Let's keep this our secret, OK?
I haven't logged my training this summer, in part due to the fear of the jinx. Like washing your car invited birds to crap on it, I didn't want to write about my training and end up jinxing my success. It doesn't hurt that a full time job, house, husband, and two kids take up a good chunk of my time when I'm not running. So, since you haven't had to endure weeks and weeks of me talking about running, being sore, being busy, and more running, I hereby thank you if you subjected yourself to reading this entry, which might take you as long as it will take me to run 26.2 on Sunday. Perhaps I will have some brain power in the days following the marathon to chronicle the race itself. Perhaps not.

In these few days before the marathon, I'm trying not to obsess or question or pay attention to the new pings and aches that are trying to take over my mind and body. Instead, I'm focusing on teaching the kids how to get Mommy her morning coffee, make my lunch, and deliver my evening glass of wine (without spilling!) so that I might enjoy some time off my feet after accomplishing my very.first.marathon. Chicago 2013, here I come!