I’ve been training for months now—losing track of just how long it’s been, because it feels like forever ago that I started this journey into ultra-marathon running.  I decided to try to tackle The San Francisco Double Marathon for a few reasons–to raise money for a charity close to my heart, to push myself, to see what my body and heart are capable of, and because the desire to run an ultra marathon had been like a spark building to a flame in this runner’s heart.

 

I listened to the song: Life and Death one day on a training run.  As the worry of: will I finish the race? has been creeping into my mind lately, the song helped me put things in perspective and refocus and calm my heart.  Like many other runners, I’ll be running for an important charity and in memory of dear loved ones.  And though I have hopes, big hopes of crossing my first 52.4 mile finish line–I know, for me, running is not life and death.

 

Life

Life

Life was the moment I met my husband and realized, he is the one meant for me.  Stepping into the sunshine, arm in arm with my dad as he walked me down the aisle, and locking eyes with my happily ever after.  Life was saying goodbye to the man who had taken care of me my whole life, as I stepped into the arms of my husband, my future.  For me, life was the wonder and magic of meeting my four children on their birthdays–having my breath taken away, when I met them for the first time.  Life was seeing the faces that had been so close to my heart for 9 months and finally, finally getting to hold them there.

 

Death was saying goodbye to my two babies before I ever got the chance to meet them.  A heartache so deep that my breath still sometimes catches when I think of them.  Death was losing my Grandpa Vincent, one of the greatest men to have blessed my life, to lung cancer.  Death was watching, in hurt and anger, as my Grandma Bernie’s memory faded, until she remembered us no more, and finally losing her to the memory thief; Alzheimer’s.  Death was losing my cousin, Vincent, our Bo, too soon. Way too soon.  I miss them all so much.

 

No.  For me, running is not life and death.

 

My husband told me not to  run the double marathon–not because he didn’t think I was capable– but because he knew going from running the single marathon to a double marathon in one day will undoubtedly cause me pain—physically and mentally.  Ever the protector.  But when I heard these lyrics on a run one day, I knew, just knew, I had to try.

 

Where there is desire

There is gonna be a flame

Where there is a flame

Someone’s bound to get burned

But just because it burns

Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die

You’ve gotta get up and try, and try, and try

P!nk, “Try”

 

No.  For me, running is not life and death.

 

Yet running is an important part of my life.  I have no idea if I will succeed or fail at this double marathon.  But I’m putting in the work, running long miles all in the hopes that trying my best will be good enough.  And what if it isn’t?  Well then I’ll come home and tell my kids that I didn’t get to cross the finish line.  I’ll get to explain to them that sometimes, even when we have the heart and put in the work, we don’t succeed in everything we try.  But then I’ll tell them that I’m not giving up.  I’ll try again.  And again.

 

 Grateful for the gift of running and all it's ups, downs and in-betweens.

Grateful for the gift of running and all it’s ups, downs and in-betweens.

I often write passionately about running.  Other runners get it.  While those who don’t, are probably left a little confused as to how something that has caused me pain both physically and mentally, something that can make my muscles ache, cause my lungs to burn, can mean so much to me.  And I’ll never be able to capture it with just quite the right words.  Words that will do it justice.  Other than; running makes me a better version of me.

Running is something that fills the tiniest of spaces in my heart; woven in like a delicate lace.  My heart is filled with my most important loves: family and faith.

 

But running adds to my life.  I define myself as a runner because it’s part of who I am now, but it’s not the only way I define myself.   Running is a gift.  Running has taught me the importance of stepping out of my comfort zone, setting goals even if I’m not sure I can meet them, it’s taught me I have some grit and determination, and a strength that is more than physical–a strength deep within my heart. And I can only hope it teaches my children that it’s OK to fall down, to get back up, dust yourself off, and try again.

 

Never Give Up,

Nicole

 

PS I know in order to cross the finish line, I must first have the belief in myself.  And as a dear friend told me, I wouldn’t have signed up unless I thought I had a chance.  The belief is there.  So is the  hope.  The wish.  The heart. And the miles.  These legs have logged so many miles and so many more to come.  Yes, the belief is there.  So much so, that I’ve signed up to blog another post for TSFM after the marathon called:  “A 52.4 Mile Recap”.  Hope to see you at the finish line.

 

What has running taught you?