My husband brings me a cute little pink 13.1 magnet signifying to the world, or at least those I pass in my car, that I am a half marathon runner.
Beaming as he holds the pink car magnet, he intends to thrill me. His thoughtful generosity meets my blank stare with a sarcastic sigh.
Why should I be proud of running a half marathon, I ask aloud. Completing a half marathon is bittersweet as I had planned to run a full marathon this year until cancer interrupted my training.
My husband launches into the stats: Based on the fact that 1% of the population has run a marathon and twice as many running the half on our race day, maybe 2% of the population has completed a half marathon. I should be proud to be among 2% of the population. The pep talk bandages my wound as I savor the pre-race moment; we both know I’ll finish.
His report stirs something deep in my soul. No matter how much I accomplish, it is never enough. The thought twirls through my mind as I bee bop the first mile of the race, Bon Jovi crooning in my head. Whooah we’re halfway there…
Never satisfied with my own accomplishments, I always expect more even when at mile three I think I might freeze to death. The thought permeates my sweat-soaked head at mile six when I’m not sure I even want to finish and as my wind-stiffened knees walk toward my finisher’s medal the thought is still there.
Behind the hype of finishing, I wonder why it isn’t enough.
This revelation shapes my current goals and causes me to lighten up on myself and release grandiose ideals. Writing for at least an hour a day, completing one organizing project each week or doing anything outside the scope of mothering on any given day even though most of my children are in school are lofty resolutions of the past. Today I mother my children, care for my family and take care of my recovering body as I spend time with my Jesus. Writing, cleaning, training for a marathon are all bonuses. As freeing as the truth can be, it also hurts.
Running a half marathon is hard. I rail at the thought. Being my own harshest critic, I want to not only run a full marathon, I want it to be easy and I want to enjoy it. This thought that the half is not enough and it is so difficult dashes my hope. Hard truth slams into my soul.
Running a marathon is hard.
Recovering from cancer is harder. I want to wake up the day after treatment and start life right where it paused. Since this time last year, trying to get everything back to normal is my goal. Yet one reality stares me in the face—things are anything but normal.
My goal morphs into creating a new normal. This normal includes a mom who is weary and forgetful, a more relaxed house and some really early bedtimes.
As my car sports my new magnet, I realize something big. I need to lighten up, have realistic expectations, be happy with baby steps and celebrate every mile marker even if I need to rest at one a bit.
A fellow cancer survivor encourages me to give myself an entire year before I expect to feel normal again. This advice inspires me to walk slowly instead of racing toward the future. Now when I think of that half marathon, I get excited because it means I’m half way there. I hear God singing, Woooah we’re half way there livin’ on a prayer. Take my hand and we’ll make it I swear—livin’ on a prayer.
Linking up to Jen and the soli deo gloria sisterhood today.