What 26.2 Miles Taught Me

Eight months of training.
 10-40 Miles a Week of Running.
No Crazy Friday Nights.
Saturday mornings running at 5am for 32 Weeks.

And for some crazy reason, it was all worth it on that Sunday morning in Long Beach.

26.2 Miles, a full Marathon, beginning at 6am and ending whenever I finished.

This was my first full marathon.

It was about as emotionally draining, overwhelming, and rewarding as you can imagine. For someone like me, who never considered herself to be a runner, someone that started athletics in special-ed P.E for poor coordination; I never thought I'd find myself at a Marathon Starting Line yet alone the Finish Line.

Fun fact, only 0.5% of the U.S Population has ever done a Marathon. I'd be joining this elite group of athletes well knowing that I still trip once every 8 Miles.

I ran that Marathon for those that couldn't and for my 26th birthday. I ran for that little girl who was told she couldn't. I ran that distance for people that dream of doing so, but due to health reasons cannot. I ran for the dreamers and I ran to stick it to the nay-sayers. (If you know me, that's not much of a surprise).

I was chipper and high-fiving til Mile 15, cursing by Mile 18, crying by Mile 22, laughing with hysterics by Mile 23, and shaking with relief and shock by Mile 26.2. Thoughts of my friends saying 'You Can Do It!' and thoughts of that Ex I had saying "Running that far is 'unhealthy' for a woman" (Oh please...). Thoughts of my old teachers saying "You can do whatever you put your mind to," then back to the jerk teacher saying "Running clearly isn't your thing." (Jokes on you pal!)

Regardless, your brain plays tricks on you during that long of a race.

You start off with expectations, everyone does.

Those expectations are faced with reality.

And your strength isn't when you've met your expectations. That would be too easy.

Your strength-physically, mentally, emotionally-it's found and tested when reality demands that you adjust,  be flexible with your surroundings, and that you somehow finish the journey despite suddenly dumping your expectations on the asphalt.

So, hm. Adjusting? Flexibility? Pushing Forward?

Apraxia Journey themes anyone?

At the beginning of this journey, you re-adjusted your expectations, right?

Not because you wanted to, but because you had to.

And the only thing you had to hold onto when you made this adjustment?

The belief that it would all be okay.

Children on this Apraxia journey have a slightly easier time adjusting. It's frustrating finding their voice and being heard, but they begin their journeys fighting and with fewer expectations. They discover the hand they're given and try to make the most of it.

What else can they possibly do? Their naivety helps their belief that it will all be okay.

Now, adults on the other hand. We are reluctant-we know better than to rely on intangible things like 'belief' and 'hope.'

Yet, sometimes this is all we have in us. These intangible things are sometimes the only sources of strength.

Come Miles 18 and over on that marathon, belief and hope were all I had. The training helped, but beyond Mile 18 I saw extremely fit individuals crumble.

Vomiting, falling, tripping, and scrapes. Dehydration, shaking, and severe limping. You're trying to focus on finishing this beast, but everyone around you is falling apart emotionally and physically.

That's when I discovered just how hard a Marathon is. It's maintaining mental and emotional strength when physically you are exhausted.

It's being comfortable and confident with struggle and fatigue.

It's maintaining belief and hope when everything in your being is telling you not to.

Perhaps these factors are also apparent in your own journeys now; so exactly how far can 'belief' and 'hope' carry us?

Well, so far it's carried me 26 years and 26.2 Miles. I'd consider that a pretty far way for now.

Special thanks to my friends and family cheering me on at o' dark thirty until the early afternoon! Couldn't have maintained an ounce of sanity without you guys.