I Run For Me

Submitted by Nancy

"Let's face it - you are amazing! There is no one else in the world like you. It's almost too hard to believe, but it's true. You are one-of-a-kind. You have a gift that you were brought into this world to deliver. No one else can do it but you.

There's just one catch... In order to fully deliver this gift; in order to fully live to your potential; you must own your excellence. You must acknowledge your greatness and all the reasons you are special."

          Will Craig

This is my now,
And I am breathing in the moment.
As I look around,
I can't believe the love I see.
My fear's behind me,
Gone are the shadows and doubt.
That was then.
This is my now.

          Jordin Sparks

I run for me. Maybe that sounds selfish. Or conceited. Or just plain bad. Society seems to look down on us for doing something for ourselves and laud and praise us when we do something for others. But here's the thing. I don't think we can really give of ourselves to others until we truly own who we are. It is owning who we are that IS the gift. Owning who I am is a challenge for me, and this marathon is fertile "owning" ground. I have to first run this marathon for me, and own it, before I can pass the joy onto others.


It is March 29 and I am running five miles by myself. Pat is home with shingles, a virus caused by the chicken pox virus that is very painful.

I am so sad and lonely and confused. We have been training together for this marathon since January 10th and my vision, ever since Pat enthusiastically agreed to run, has been that we would do this together. As I run, I realize there is a good chance that may not happen. I don't know how long it will be before Pat feels good enough to run and I don't know how much training a person can miss before it makes running a marathon impossible.

Running up Washington Street I am keenly aware of how different it feels to run without Pat. I miss her presence. Running feels harder and I feel heavier. When Pat told me she had shingles, I knew I would continue to train, and would run in the marathon even if I ran alone. I didn't have to ask myself, or debate the issue, the answer was right there in my heart, just as the idea to run the marathon had been. Clear as a bell...this is what I am supposed to do. But that doesn't mean that the answer felt easy or that I didn't second-guess myself.

But as I jog up Rule Street, I let in the thought that I don't have to run. I can call it quits and say that I don't want to run the marathon without Pat. As this thought occurs, I stop running and burst into tears. It feels like a dream is slipping away. I walk and cry. By the time I get to South Lincoln Street I am talking to myself. "Nancy, you can do this. Yes it will be harder without Pat, but you can do this." I start to run again, tears still on my cheeks. I run for a while and find myself missing Pat and praying that she gets better quickly. The grief comes in waves as I run and each time the grief overwhelms me, I slow to a walk. And every time I walk I feel like I am giving up, caving in on myself. "I can't do this." I think. "I don't want to do this alone." I start to sob, hands over my face, walking past the Waldorf School on North Lincoln Street. I start talking to myself again. I remind myself that this is my dream and that I don't have to give it up. But it will look different. I start running again, wiping the tears from my cheeks, along with the sweat. Running down Marlborough Street is agony. I keep stopping, grieving, pulling myself together, running again. I finally arrive at my car, parked downtown near the fire station, and stretch as I cry.

What surprises me is the overwhelming feeling that if I am doing this just for me, then it isn't worth doing. Wowserioes...that sends up all kinds of red flags within. I understand somewhere deep inside of me that I want to celebrate me crossing that finish line. And if I can't do that, then I don't want to run. That becomes my mission, to find the place in me that is super proud of me, that can celebrate me. My gift to the world starts with a belief in myself. It is in my arms stretched to the sky in victory, emotion welling up in my face, tears in my eyes as I cross the finish line -- that is the gift to those around me. How I feel about me in that moment, my celebration of me, will touch everyone. Owning the moment, I give the gift. I get that somehow deep inside. I don't really know how I know it, but I do. What I don't know is if I can do it.

As I get into my car to drive home from my solo run, I realize that I have come too far and put too much of myself into this to stop now. I have to keep training. I also realize something about myself... My way is to feel joy through the experience of others. But now there may be no one running with me...just me. This marathon is now about feeling the exhilaration of celebrating me - not my strongest suit. But I take it on as a challenge. I will run for me.

For me...with Pat

It is Sunday, May 1, and I am visiting Pat in the hospital. In addition to shingles, she has meningitis. Seeing her so pale and lifeless, is devastating. It puts everything else in perspective. When you are that sick...that is all there is. No marathon, no work issues, no dreams...it is just about getting through the day.

I leave the hospital so low I move with no life. Pat is really really ill. And the marathon looms out there a month away, and I am trying not to think about it. I just need to get through my runs this weekend and coming week. Driving home from the hospital, I think about what I need to get through the rest of the training by myself. It is hard for me to run alone. So I start lining up my support system. My dear friend Marty offers to ride her bike along with me. My husband assures me that he would ride his bike as well. Other friends e-mail me names of runners who might be able to run with me. My weekend run is 14 miles and Marty rides her bike with me for the first 7 miles and then my husband Don rides his bike the last 7 miles. Wow...it is hard for me to let in all that love for me.

Pat gets out of the hospital and begins her recovery. Not only is she weak and sore, but she is dealing with tremendous grief around having to let go of the marathon. We are both sad.

Monday, May 3, dawns and I am in peak marathon training week...alone. I run 5 miles by myself on Tuesday. Then Marty rides her bike 10 miles with me on Wednesday. We talk and share and laugh and before I know it the 10 miles are history. What a gift! Thank you Marty!

Pat is feeling better and wants to see if she can still run. So on Thursday, she runs 5 miles with me. This is no small feat. It seems incredible to me that Pat is able to run after what her body has been through. It is a testament to her strength and determination to get back to exercising as soon as possible. Having her running next to me feels too good to be true and I don't really let it in, afraid that she will have a relapse or something else will happen that will derail her running again. But she seems to be the same old Pat, running next to me, effortlessly. Neither one of us dares to put voice to our thoughts, but within each of us the dream is re-ignited. Maybe, just maybe Pat can rejoin our training and who knows? Maybe run the race?

My longest run of the marathon training arrives and I am nervous! 20 miles! Pat rides her bike alongside of me for 15 miles and runs the last 5 with me. It is great to have her running by my side. It is a L-O-N-G run. But I stay in the moment, running like I could run forever, not thinking about the distance. I just keep going. The last mile is a killer and Pat encourages me along the way. I did it! I ran 20 miles!

Then Pat says the words. "I want to try and run this marathon, Nancy. I think I can do it."

We are now in our taper period where the daily mileage goes down instead of up. Tomorrow is our last run, a 4-miler.

For me, with Pat, bringing you in spirit

I have read that if you get to the starting line of the marathon you have already won. That is true, for me. I have run 486 miles in the 20-week training program. 486 miles!!!! Who knew I could do that? You know, when someone else does something incredible, I am amazed and I break into spontaneous applause. When I do something incredible, it seems to just happen and I don't pay any attention. Not this time.

This time I notice. I ran 486 miles. Through snow and sleet and rain and fog, early mornings, wet mornings, cold mornings; I showed up and we ran. When it seemed like we would never get there...we ran. When we were tired at mile 8 and had 10 more miles to go...we ran. When I got stomach cramps and my shoulder felt like it was going to fall off...I ran. When the hills were steep and we were out of breath we walked and then we ran. When the snow was deep we rallied a snowplow to make a path for us and we ran. When friends waved, honked their horns or whooo hoooooed us along the way we smiled and ran. When my mind started telling me that I couldn't do it...I ran. We talked and laughed and shared and listened to our iPods and ran in silence, mile after mile after mile after mile. We stretched. I sat in a tub of freezing cold water after my long runs, whining and shuddering for 15 minutes. And then finally I would sit down on the couch, in warm clothes and let my head fall back with a loud sigh and revel in the feeling that my body was still running while I was finally resting.

High 10...good for us. Good for me. Burlington, Vermont, marathon on May 30th...here we come!

I have done so much in my life that I have not owned. I have spent years thinking I was being humble, ignoring my accomplishments. Years not noticing. Years being smaller than I am to ensure those around me stay comfortable. Years thinking that owning my bigness is something that I just shouldn't do. But things inside are shifting. The marathon asked me to run. I asked Pat to join me because I wanted to share the experience, because I couldn't imagine doing it alone. Then Pat got sick, and the marathon asked me to run it alone. To run just for me. It felt like agony. But something in me rose to the challenge. By the time Pat was back running at my side, I had found myself in the partnership. I knew that I could run this marathon for me, alone if I had to. And I knew how incredibly blessed I would be to run it with Pat.

Somewhere, running along one of my training routes, I realized that it is not a sin to own who you are. It is a sin NOT TO. I realize that when I own who I am, I give permission to those around me to fully own who they are. And I think, when we own our own light, it gets brighter. We light up more of the world. By being fully who we are, we inspire others to do the same.

Crossing the finish line at the Burlington marathon, celebrating me, that's my goal...and my gift. And I bring you with me...

Each mile, I run for someone special.

Mile 1 - I run for those who can't. I run because I can, holding those who can't in my heart. I know how lucky I am.

Mile 2 - I run for our It's Not About the Hike presentation audiences, our Facebook Fans and our Challenge Team (Linda, Chuck, Adriana, Fawn, Melanie, Beth and Sarah) & the girl I high-fived as we ran past each other on Court Street - in cheering for others, and in being cheered, I have found one of my life's greatest joys.

Mile 3 - I run for Eileen - her life's journey up and over mountains, both in the White Mountains and in her personal life, and the courage with which she travels, has blessed me.

Mile 4 - I run for Dexter & Lori - I found strength running by Dexter's grave...I miss him so, and Lori, her resilience and strength astound me.

Mile 5 - I run for Cindy Stewart (My Muscle Massage Therapist) She kept me healthy and always ready for the next run and her consistent encouragement kept me going.

Mile 6 - I run for Cindy Sterling (My Yoga Teacher) her expertise, kindness and care and incredible ability to know just what I needed was such a gift.

Mile 7 - I run for The Cape & the Canyon - the 2 places (other than home) that I love most on earth, the barn in West Falmouth, Cape Cod, which we are reluctantly selling, and the Grand Canyon, at the river.

Mile 8 - I run for Ruth Sterling, her unwavering belief that I could do this was so strong I started to believe her!

Mile 9 - I run for Molly Lane, her enthusiasm and support and love touch me.

Mile 10 - I run for Tim, Don's brother, who recently passed away; he really loved me.

Mile 11 - I run for John, my twin brother, his courage to leave Keene and move to Florida and live on a boat inspires me...whoooo hoooooo!

Mile 12 - I run for Tracey who has been a cairn in my life, always pointing me in the right direction with such love and wisdom. She truly sees me and that experience is life changing. My love and appreciation for her are huge.

Mile 13 - I run for Marcus - whose love and life have blessed me.

Mile 14 - I run for Rob - I have been honored to witness Rob's journey through leukemia, which he continues to travel with such courage, humor and grace. He is a living wonder.

Mile 15 - I run for Kate - who listens with her heart on her sleeve, inspiring me to feel as deeply.

Mile 16 - I run for my exercise class (Ellen, Kathy, Mary Ellen, Carol, Jody, Peg, Forrest) - I teach because I love the people. They wanted to be mile 16 where the big hill is - because we work HARD in class!

Mile 17 - I run for Marty & her family - Marty and Vaughan, and their children, Mia and Taylor, have brought me and my family into the beautiful fold of their family and that is a true blessing.

Mile 18 - I run for Marge, my birth mother, who had the courage to give birth to me and my twin brother, the courage to give us up for adoption and the courage to accept me into her life when I found her.

Mile 19 - I run for Martha (Marge's daughter), my sister, who accepted me as her sister the second she saw me and welcomed me into her life.

Mile 20 - I run for Anne (Marge's daughter), my sister, and her boys Sam and Ben - Anne said to me, "It's time to call in your support system." I said, "I'm not good at that." She said, "Well get over it, I'm your sister!" She called me her sister - God I love that!

Mile 21 - I run for my father & mother who blessed me with adversity so I could learn how strong and resilient I am.

Mile 22 - I run for my daughter Jess & her future husband Sean - Jess is the Business Manager at Nissan of Keene; she has accomplished so much, and her confidence, beauty and radiant smile are a joy to behold. And I am so proud of the man Sean has become.

Mile 23 - I run for my daughter Kelly & her husband Justin - Kelly makes me laugh out loud and she expresses her love for me so openly it touches me deeply. Justin is one of the sweetest, kindest people I know and I am so glad he is in the family.

Mile 24 - I run for Don - my #1 support and love, always.

Mile 25 - I run for Pat - my friend who has made so many of my adventures possible, her incredible strength and guts to run after shingles and meningitis is truly inspirational! These last 2 miles are in celebration of us!

Mile 26 - I run for me -- NANCY!