This is my response letter to him.
Your letter arrived today, and your timing could not have been more perfect. By my calculations (since I don’t count the day of the event) my marathon is only…
(I had to look at the countdown on the website) 11 days and 6 hours away. Plus, by the time you read this letter, it will probably be even sooner.
You’re right. 26.2 miles is a long distance. It’s even longer once you convert it to metric. 42, 195 meters. Some days it seems impossible.
I am not a long legged athlete, with years of fitness experience, competitions, and thousands of hours spent training.
I’m 5’3″ regular mom. I am running to cross the finish line in St. George, not to qualify for Boston, or to set a new PR. The awards ceremony will probably be over by the time I complete my first marathon, and cross the finish line.
I was born in 1977, and I am turning 40 four months after the St. George Marathon does. That probably seems ancient, since you just turned 25 a couple of months ago.
Trust me, 40 will come faster than you want it to.
My face is becoming lined with wrinkles. Age spots are appearing on my skin. My hair is streaked with gray strands, and I wear tri-focal contacts. I didn’t know such a thing existed. Apparently there are enough people besides me with deteriorating eyesight.
I wear custom orthopedic inserts in my sensible shoes. I have loose, stretch-marked skin on my stomach I tuck into my running pants from giving birth to triplets, and several years spent morbidly obese. It’s pretty much the opposite of 6 pack abs.
I’m ignoring these truths about my aging physical body.
As you reminded me, I’m running the St. George Marathon, because I think I can… or I believed I could back in April when I signed up.
I’m Genealogy Jen. The Little Gen-Jen that could.
Middle age is approaching, but I keep moving, because I think I can.
Puff, puff, puff
Chug, chug, Chug,
My arms pumping back and forth in a circular, train-like motion like The Little Blue Engine from my favorite children’s book.
I think I can,
I think I can,
I think I can.
After 5 months of rigorous training, I am so tired, Paul. My body feels broken down and exhausted.
I am physically and mentally drained.
The goal I set months ago seems impossible. Today, I’m sniffling the word marathon through my pre-race taper cold.
Lately, I would rather be in my bed snuggled under my covers eating ice cream, watching romantic comedy movies than running or washing dishes or pretty much anything else right now.
Honestly, the changing season, with fall approaching tends to be challenging for me & my mental health.
Sometimes, the weight of my anxiety or depression make simple tasks like cooking dinner or washing the sink full of dishes overwhelming.
Sometimes, it can be really difficult to put one foot in front of the other and just keep going like you recommended.
Paul, I can not even begin to tell you how much waking up to your letter this morning meant to me.
I even re-read it to my husband and boys at the breakfast table this morning. You’ll be happy to know that they laughed in all the right spots.
I cried a little bit.
But this time, they were happy tears.
I cried a lot last week, and none of my attempted words seemed to explain concisely this emotional weight I am carrying right now.
I’ve read too many stories lately about people treating each other so horribly. I’ve also been digging into the remainder of my 40 fears.
It’s been a dark and lonely place.
I couldn’t finish my weekly blog post.
I feel overwhelmed right now, but encouraged thanks to your letter.
I think I can.
You are right, Paul. I can do it, because I can do hard things.
And so can you.
Whether it is an actual marathon, like I’m running, or the seemingly never ending race against an inner critic, or the trials life piles in front of us, we are all training for, and running our own marathons.
And like you said, we just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Your newly inspired friend,
Genealogy Jen’s Challenge of the Week Run or walk a mile. (I think that’s 1600 meters for most of the rest of the world who use the logical and efficient metric system) You can do it. You don’t have to be fast. As Paul said, just put one foot in front of the other.