This I Believe

Stacey - Washington, District of Columbia
Entered on November 20, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: sports
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As the 7000 marathoners gathered at the starting line, it was pouring rain, the rain that hits you on the way down, and then jumps up and hits you again. Drenched and nervous, my training group felt nothing at all like the world class athletes we had imagined, six months earlier, we would be on that day.

God smiled with us as the rain stopped the moment the starting gun went off, and we moved with the energy of 7,000 runners and our own internal amazement of what we were about to achieve. The crowd spread and feet had space to stretch, and the rhythm of breath, out, out, in, out, out, in, began to take hold. Our group of fifteen dissolved quickly as adrenaline took over good sense. And at mile five, I found myself alone, facing a three-hour internal conversation with my body and my mind.

I ran this marathon for all the women in my life. I run to reclaim all the things that we lose early on, a sense of true self, the confidence to speak our minds, a love of our bodies, a true and beautiful self image, an expectation of respect equal to what we deserve. I run to inspire other women to take on a task they think impossible. I run because I know that if I fall, I have a family to pick me up, dust me off, pat me on the butt and tell me to get back out there.

A few months before the marathon, I ran for 10 miles of rolling back country hills, alone on the road, feeling strong, secure, safe and so centered. I ran through tough stretches, where I thought about stopping to walk, and kept on running. I had two hours not to speak, not be on, to just be me. And about 8 miles into it, I said aloud, without forethought, “this is unbelievable”. When I came around the bend to the house, my husband was standing in the driveway, there at that moment just for me, watching me come in, and whispered as I hugged him “I am so proud of you”. That was my moment. That was my first marathon.

So back at the ranch, I’m still at the 5-mile mark and am trying to mentally return to that mountain road…to get in the zone and relax and just run. But 7,000 runners, several hundred spectators, and one irritating out of tune singer on my heels didn’t make that easy.

At mile 16, we entered the longest and most silent stretch of the race – no spectators, just “pitter patter, pitter patter, pitter patter” of 14,000 thousand feet for nine miles. In the throes of leg cramps, stomachaches, and a tremendous desire to throttle the woman singing out of tune, I wanted nothing more than to be done with this race.

But this I believe. I believe that our souls carry wisdom beyond that of conscious thought. I believe that if my mind had known what my body would feel like at the doorstep of the finish line, I never would have taken on this challenge. I believe that my spirit knew at some level how hard this would be, and decided to take it on anyway. I believe that when god and luck give you a body that is strong, resilient, and incredibly engineered, it needs to be honored, used and pushed to its true limits. And I fundamentally believe that there is nothing more satisfying than pushing to the point that success isn’t a sure thing, and then pushing harder.