Five years ago tonight, I cried myself to sleep knowing that the decision I made earlier in the day meant giving up the thing I loved more than anything else. I would cry myself to sleep every night for the next few months, not understanding how I was going to live my life or what would become of me, just knowing that I had to change everything.
In the morning, on the five year anniversary of a whole new everything, I will run the L.A. Marathon.
Until a couple of months ago, I hadn’t run since gym class in high school and never of my own volition. I had only recently taken up short morning runs when I learned that the marathon was going to be on this auspicious day. Without giving it a second thought, I said I was in. I didn’t say it to anyone but me but that is all that was necessary to begin.
Over the last five years, I have learned a lot about living from people around me. I’ve learned how to do things I thought were impossible. When I decided I was going to run the marathon, I did the same things they taught me.
I found someone who knew how to run a marathon and asked how they did it. Then I listened and took their suggestions. I followed the plan.
When I woke up in the morning, I ran, regardless of how I felt. Some days it was easy and some days it was hard. When I went for my first ten mile run, the person who shared their experience with me shared their strength. They ran alongside me and they ran ahead of me, never far enough that they were out of reach but just far enough to give me something to reach for. I probably would have quit that day and given up hope had I not had someone there who had done it and who believed I could too.
Over time the distance of my runs grew longer and longer. As I’ve been training over the last few months, I have done most of my running alone along the boardwalk that stretches between Santa Monica and Venice. I wish I could count the number of times I have been out there, in the rain, in the heat, in the cold, eyes on the ground in front of me feeling like I couldn’t take another step and every time, without fail, when I raised my head and looked around me; there were people doing the same thing I was doing. Everywhere. Some of them older than I, some younger, all of them sharing their hope. Whether they knew it or not the people around me helped me believe that it could be done.
Over the last five years, I have fallen in love with a life I never thought I wanted. Tomorrow, I will celebrate by doing something I never thought I could do and I wouldn’t have it any other way.