If you haven't spent any time with me in person over the last few months, and if you haven't seen any of my Facebook posts, you likely don't even know that I ran the Athens marathon a week ago, let alone why I did it.
So, a brief word as to the reasoning. When I picked up running again after our move to Las Vegas in 2005, I found myself pushed beyond my typical 2-3 mile jog when my crazy running partner talked about doing races. I thought only hard-core athletes did races, people who were competitive enough to think about winning! (My first "race" was a 10K! Go big or go home, I guess!) It was this crazy racing friend who first planted the idea of doing a marathon in my head. After experiencing the trauma of my first miscarriage, I found running to be therapeutic and couldn't let go of the idea of someday running a full-length marathon.
But life happened. My running partner moved. My motivation and desire to run 26.2 miles really flagged. I did do a half-marathon in December of 2007, but a back injury shortly after put me off running long distances for quite some time. Moving to Ohio where winters were much more extreme definitely didn't help, yet I'd visit the idea now and then and tell myself that before I was 40...it would happen.
Then we got orders to Italy. And the wheels started turning. We'd be overseas for my 40th birthday...and if I were to actually attempt a marathon, why not the original course in Athens?! So before we even got on the plane to come to Naples, the idea had taken root. It seemed even more appropriate when I realized that the full marathon takes place in November, and my birthday is November 22.
November 2012 wasn't an option...we were finally just getting settled into our new house after months in an apartment, not to mention I was just starting to run again after Ted's deployment and Zaden's arrival. November 2013 found me nursing baby #7. With only one year left, it was November 2014 or bust. And...wouldn't you know?! This is the year I turn 40!
As the days ticked by, I realized that my purpose for completing a marathon wasn't simply to mark the momentous occasion of a milestone birthday. No, I had to have a bigger purpose than that, something that would weather the difficulties of training and pushing my body in a way that it hasn't been pushed in a long time...or ever.
Ted's participation (as a spectator--I never expected him to do this with me!) was never an option, as November is an extremely busy time for him at work, and taking leave during that season isn't possible for him. I needed community, and I wanted the race to be a platform. I figured if I were going to invest this much time and energy into something, it better be for a high calling and purpose! Since I've been involved with the Mission of Light (Missione di Luce) ministry team here in Napoli for the last couple of years, it made sense to fundraise for the efforts to minister to victims of human trafficking that we see on the streets right around us.
I started asking people probably a year ago, maybe more, if they'd be interested in running the Athens marathon. It seemed as though the idea was appealing, but I couldn't seem to get any commitment for awhile. And then, maybe sometime after the new year, my friend Julia confirmed that she would do this thing with me. She hadn't run a full marathon before but has definitely been a runner. Her enthusiasm at the start was invaluable, as she set up our Facebook group page and got the ball rolling that way. One by one we started to hear from other people who took the plunge and said YES to this crazy venture.
Understandably, we had some who initially committed but had to back out for various reasons, but then we also had some who joined us much farther along in the journey. All in all, we ended up having 12 runners who represented Mission of Light in our orange shirts! All of us shared links and talked to people and encouraged folks to donate to our case. I have no idea how many funds have been raised at this point...and honestly, I'm at peace with that! I do hope to hear a total before too long, but right now the fact that WE DID IT seems more important than any numbers!
A brief, different write-up of our reason for running the marathon appears here at the Mission of Light blog.