On the Hunt for A Different Kind of Marathon
If you’re a runner, maybe you’ve been there. You sign up for a race months in advance and then, for one reason or another, you are not able or motivated to really train for it. Maybe life gets hectic with other obligations, maybe you face an injury, or maybe even burn out. Whatever the reason, race day is suddenly nearly upon you, and you have not trained for it. That was my experience with the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) in Washington, DC this year. Lucky for me, my friend John was also registered for the MCM and, like me, was looking for a different kind of marathon experience. One day on a bike ride it came to us: “If we can’t set a personal record (PR) in speed, we should set a PR in FUN.” So we put together a marathon scavenger hunt for ourselves and decided to run in costume.
Soon we had compiled a list of 25 tasks to complete on our 26.2 mile jaunt through the District. We reached an understanding that time was not the top priority in this race and embraced a renewed enthusiasm for the marathon. We headed to the start line dressed in orange jumpsuits and jail number-style bibs, holding our scavenger hunt list with tasks like:
• Take a picture of an Ironman tattoo.
• Kiss a member of as many military branches as you can.
By the time we crossed the finish line, John and I had completed 20 of the 25 tasks we had laid out for ourselves. More importantly, we had accomplished a serious physical challenge with positive attitudes and made some wonderful memories. Though the official race clock may show my slowest marathon time to date, the race truly flew by.
I would encourage anyone to try to take this kind of attitude at a race someday. Do one race where you put more effort into your costume than you do your training. Run a race where making other runners laugh and smile is a higher priority than keeping your own mental strength in check. Develop a plan to make the day go by quickly by filling it with distractions. Find someone who is new to racing and perhaps nervous about the day, and focus on helping them achieve their goal. Focus on things other than your watch and your heart rate, and your goal can be more rewarding than any Personal Best. I was able to take time this year during MCM to think more about where I was than how far I had to go. I looked at the people around me who set out to accomplish their goals on those same roads, to fight for the causes emblazoned on their shirts, to remember loved ones lost, or to support their loved ones from the sidelines. I was touched by the re-realization that the running community is a unique population that does not discriminate by age, gender, body type, or class. Whatever your purpose for being there, if you are willing to put in the effort to cover the miles— the run is yours.
As I celebrated marathon running and my ability to participate in it with a healthy body and the support of my loving family and friends, I naturally thought of those served by Love Without Boundaries. I thought of Wynne, the child I sponsored who passed away as an orphan in China after a short life of fewer than two months, and in whose memory I was running. I acknowledged how fortunate I am to have the opportunity and ability to challenge my physical fitness through events like the marathon. I thought of the many people who have supported LWB through their charitable giving of time, money, talents, and thoughtfulness. Team LWB consisted of only ten teammates running this year’s Marine Corps Marathon, but we were able to raise more than $11,000 to help meet the needs of orphans in LWB’s healing homes. Providing hope and healing to these children gives them the opportunity to lead lives filled with love, family, health… and their own fun and memorable experiences. I look forward to reading the blogs that they will write one day!
~Jenn Fier, member of Team LWB