I am the world’s most unlikely marathoner. When I tell people I have run (ok the correct verb is really waddled) through two marathons and four half marathons at my current weight they look at me a little quizzically. “Really?” they think not daring to say the words out loud. Yes, really, but not for the usual reasons most people run. Every time I have been out there it has been to prove my love for my kids.
My first attempt to run a marathon is chronicled in my book. In an effort to show solidarity with my then future Plebe son I thought I could put in for a slot in the Marine Corps Marathon. The odds were against me. If I got a slot then I would do it. You guessed it -winner winner chicken dinner! I spent the next four months secretly training on icy tracks and woodland trails praying that maybe I would break something to get out of my promise. On a cold morning in October I found myself panicking at the start and surprising everyone including me when I finished. My then USNA First Class Midshipman (now a Marine) ran most of the way with me with an American flag so we were saluted all along the course.
Then my daughter suggested we do a half marathon in Phoenix. “After all Mom, you finished a full marathon. You can do it. ” The best part of that experience besides ending up on my feet was running into 7/11 on the course and getting a Slurpee. And I discovered something. It did not matter if it was 26 miles or 13 miles, it still hurt!
When I begin my brain and body spend a lot to time telling me that it is ridiculous. No one like me should be out there trying to run. My legs complain no matter how many miles I put in. It takes about 15 minutes for my body to realize I am not quitting. Then I settle in to the long flat places. That’s when my brain really starts to harrass me. It is those long flat places where I get tired of the routine-step after step. Those are the times when I long for a distraction-someone to cheer me on, a band to play, a 7/11…
Basic Training and deployments are like a marathon. They start off with a bang-a lot of hoopla and then the discomfort begins. You wonder how you will make it to the next week much less the entire time period. Then the time begins to blur into a long dreary extension of missing and worrying about them. You long for something or someone to break up the monotony. A phone call, a text message can power you through another week but you are still longing to know they are safe and wishing they were home.
You don’t get a medal at this finish line. You do get an overwhelming sense of relief and some better night’s sleep. It is just enough to empower you to get ready for the next race, because these days it seems like there is always another deployment on the horizon.
People ask me how I do it? How I manage to keep going forward through the obligations that come with multiple children in service? It is nothing magical. It is one foot in front of the other, moving through the pain because I have to support my kids. And let me tell you these long flat places of months of deployment hurt. But I do what mommas need to do-because I will be waiting at their finish line.
Press on mommas. We can do this.