Anything is possible
Last December I started training for my second Boston Marathon this past April. It was my fifth marathon, so I was familiar with the 18-week training that goes into preparing for it. The toughest part of the training, though, didn’t come from the miles of running. It came from the slight anger from my teen daughter, who at times looked at my commitment as selfish, since it meant I sometimes missed or showed up late to her games.
I found myself pleading my case for why running this particular race was so significant. “It’s the Boston Marathon,” I’d tell her, “the oldest and most prestigious marathon to run, because not just anyone can participate.” A runner has to run a previous marathon in a certain time to qualify for Boston, and I would be running it again four years older than the last time. Still, it seemed my 14-year-old just didn’t seem to get it. Or even want to get it.
So, I took her with me. I wanted her to witness firsthand how the city of Boston wraps itself around this signature event. I wanted her to hear from the other runners about why Boston is such a feather in the cap of a marathoner. I wanted her to see the hundreds of thousands of spectators who brave the chill to cheer from the sidelines. I wanted her to be there to see me cross the finish line. Only then, I thought, could she truly understand the sense of accomplishment that comes from hard work.
I’m proud to say I finished in 3:29:58 – 9 minutes faster than my last Boston run in 2007. But the supreme high hit when I immediately heard my daughter shouting, “Mom, Mom, Mom!” at the top of her lungs to get my attention. I will never forget the look on her face. She beamed with a grin of intense pride from ear to ear. Her first words when she hugged me? “I’m so proud of you, Mom. This is the best day of my life.”
Words don’t begin to express how I felt. I just knew I never wanted to forget how she felt. So, I asked her to detail her feelings that day in a letter to me as a Mother’s Day gift. She said she cried as she wrote it. I cried as I read it. My favorite part: “When I watched you cross the finish line on April 18, I realized how truly amazing you are. I immediately began to feel emotional … I had chills running down my body as I saw you walking towards me. It was a truly inspirational moment for me … because you haven’t just inspired me to do something specific like run a marathon, but instead you have inspired me to follow my dreams in life…. It made me realize that with hard work, anything is possible.”
She got it. And no marathon can ever capture this sense of accomplishment.