Six months ago, I sat down to write about my Boston Marathon experience, and I remember how hard it was to truly capture, with words, what that day meant to me. I ran my heart out that day. I was so determined to take back that finish line that I didn’t let the heat of the day or anything else hold me back. Little did I realize, that it wouldn’t be the last time I ran with a meaningful, determined focus.
A few short weeks after Boston, my running friends convinced me to sign up to run the Marine Corps Marathon with them. I wasn’t sure I wanted to run another marathon so soon, but I thought, my Dad was a Marine…countless relatives and friends were/are Marines, that might be kind of awesome to honor their service. I had no idea at the time how much this marathon would mean to me come race day.
Yesterday, was the 39th running of the Marine Corps Marathon and it might have been the hardest/greatest/most memorable 26.2 miles I will ever run. I didn’t PR, but I wasn’t there for that. I was there to finish the race, and earn my medal, for my Dad. Two weeks ago he lost his short but brave battle with cancer. And despite having barely trained in the past month and a half, and being an emotional mess, I decided that I needed to do this for him.
Words really can’t express what running this race meant to me. To have my husband (who on the day of my Dad’s death ran his first marathon in his honor), my mom and my brother and his girlfriend come all the way to DC (and to travel around to various spots in the city) to cheer me on was amazing. To have friends, who are really more like family, write my Dad’s name on their arms and legs so we could all run for him was truly touching. To have my November Project family, some running with me, some cheering me along the way and others sending messages of encouragement and support from afar was incredible. My Dad may have not been physically there waiting for me at the finish with the rest of my family, but I know he was with me every step of those 26.2 miles.
My Dad taught me many things over the years, but one of the most important things was that if you really want something, you have to work for it. Things are always earned, never given. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the past month or so, with my Dad, to say goodbye, but also to spend time with some of his friends. I realized, through their stories, that those weren’t just words to him. He actually practiced what he preached. He was a man of few words, but those words were his bond. This weekend, I chose to follow through on my word, run the race and earn that medal! Dad, I hope I made you proud.