At the age of 29, fresh off a failed marriage and feeling intensely guilty about not being more upset about it, I discovered five little words to combat the stigma of successive weekend nights home alone on the couch: I’m racing in the morning.
Those early races were typically 5k’s (or 3.1 miles), a manageable distance given that those were the only miles I ran all week. While the gym had been my friend for many years, the pavement — not so much. There was also the occasional 10k (6.2 miles), an odd four-miler, and maybe even a half marathon (13.1 miles) once a year, for which I would train by running two times per week, rather than one.
Those finish lines served their purpose. Life went on, and I went on, a little bigger and bolder in spirit than before.
I was 35 by the time I thought seriously about running a marathon. It would be a “bucket list” item, I thought. A life-changing race distance what would make me one of a venerable group of Marathon Finishers. “Yes,” I decided, while watching Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher take to the Newton start line in the early morning hours of April 15, 2013, approximately 26 running miles from the South Boston apartment I shared with my fiance, David. “In 2014 I will run a marathon.” Hours later 3 spectators were dead, 264 injured, and a city and a sport – my city and my sport – were changed forever. And so was I.
On May 17, 2014 I crossed the finish line of my first marathon at the Great Wall of China. Before the year was out, I’d also finished marathons San Francisco and Seattle. While all those 5k’s in my early 30s never quite made me feel like A Runner, Marathoner was more comfortable than I’d expected. At the age of 37, I’d not only reinvented myself, but found myself.
My racing prowess continued to grow. With the encouragement of Run the Edge‘s Run the Year community, I ran more than 2015 miles in 2015, a feat that put the ultra-marathon — any distance above 26.2 miles (42.1km) — in my sights. I completed four in 2016, including an audacious 100-miler.
I am a proud mid-packer. I am not sub-elite, and I am not placing in my age group. This is important because that means I am in the majority. A weekend warrior juggling a high-stress corporate job, and building a house, and tending to my marriage and other relationships, and running upwards of 50 miles on most weeks. While it takes a special kind of person to qualify for Boston, or run a sub-3 hour marathon, anyone — absolutely anyone — can cross a finish line of any distance. And it’s the finish lines, not the clock, that will change your life for the better.