I’ve run four full marathons. After my last marathon in 1999, I decided I was done running full marathons. The training is exhausting and time consuming. I was perfectly happy focusing on half marathons and 10k races. When people asked me if I would do another marathon, I replied “absolutely not.” If pushed a little more, I would explain that it would have to be a very special race for me to come out of “marathon retirement.”
I didn’t find a special race…I found a special community.
You Can Not Sprint a Marathon:
Being a part of the Team Still I Run community (supporter and cheerleader) during the NYC Marathon weekend and organizing a Hood to Coast Still I Run Team (August 2023) got me fired up. I realized I wanted to do MORE for SIR. I wanted to bring more awareness to SIR and the importance of addressing mental health issues. I wanted to see SIR grow and help more individuals.
In my head, I started toying with the idea of running the NYC Marathon as part of Team Still I Run. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to run another marathon, but I really wanted to support SIR. It would be such a proud feeling to raise money and awareness for an organization I hold so dear to my heart.
Never Outrun Your Joy of Running:
Choosing to come out of “marathon retirement” for this race, BECAUSE OF STILL I RUN, would send a message to my friends and family (and hopefully others) that this organization is important. My heart would be in it 100%. This heart is what would get me to train, run and cross that finish line.
But I was conflicted. As much as I wanted to do this for SIR, the idea of running 26.2 miles again scared me. I have done four marathons, plus many half marathons. I knew I could do it, but I kept letting my anxiety talk me out of it.
Tough Situations Build Strong People:
Fast forward to January 2023. January and February were very difficult and stressful months for me. I was in a downward spiral, feeling so frustrated and upset with myself because my anxiety and ADHD were having serious impacts on my relationships. I felt lost and alone. I needed additional support beyond my therapist, from others who would really be able to understand and support me.
I chose to reach out to the other SIR Ambassadors through our Facebook page. It was the one place I felt I would be safe and understood. I was incredibly nervous and apprehensive about posting, because this was the most open and vulnerable, I had ever been in this group.
The outpouring of love and support was beyond what I could have ever expected. It was in this moment I truly felt the love & support of a new kind of “family” that I had never had in my life. The kind of support I wish I would’ve had earlier in my life but am just so thankful to have now.
During these turbulent months, I went on runs and went snowshoeing with my dogs more regularly. I used those times to process and work on building my mental and emotional strength back. I received messages from various SIR Ambassadors checking in on me and offering support. Every message I received gave me that glimmer of hope to help me get through that moment…that day.
Nothing Compares to Running Friends:
It was this community that reminded me I am more than my diagnoses and that my mental health issues don’t define the person I am.
The idea of the NYC Marathon kept coming up in my mind. Each day—each run…I would think about how much I wanted to give back to this organization, this community, this family that has been by my side and given me hope.
I realized what was holding me back from applying to run the NYC Marathon for SIR was purely my anxiety of doing another marathon. My anxiety, that I wouldn’t be able to finish the race. This would be embarrassing and let my SIR family down. I reminded myself that I had done marathons before and I wasn’t in as good of shape as I am today. I reminded myself that I am stronger than I give myself credit for. I reminded myself that when I put my mind to something, I do whatever it takes to make it happen.
On one of my runs in mid-February I decided I was going to go for it. I was going to look my anxiety straight on and tell it that I’m doing this and I’m doing this for SIR and I’m doing this for ME.