Last year, when I was campaigning for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, something crazy happened.  I qualified for the Boston Marathon.  Finally.

In the midst of what can only be described as a complete and utter whirlwind, where 3-4 hours of sleep per night became the norm and a 17-day stint of pneumonia threatened to put the kibosh on anything other than dry toast, I packed my bags on a Friday afternoon after work and drove 9 hours to Birmingham, Alabama.  By myself.

The LLS campaign was one of the proudest and most worthwhile moments in my life.  Raising money to tell cancer to go screw itself, all in the name of an amazing 4-year old little dude named Greyson, was indescribable.  The camaraderie, the support, the solid friendships, and the all out effort is something I will never, ever forget.

Now, prior to being asked to run for the campaign, I had already signed up for a February 17th marathon.  In Alabama.  Why, you ask?  Good question.  Originally, I had trained all summer and was signed up for a “normal” marathon in Indianapolis on November 5th.  Yep…right here in good ‘ol Indiana, less than 2 hours from home.  Roughly 2 weeks before that marathon, something similar to this dialog happened:

<Liv:>  Mom, where are we taking Mariam for her 16th Birthday?
<Me:>  When?
<Liv:>  November 5th.  I told her we’d take her to Chicago, so say Chicago.

Ok, so what’s a Mom to do other than ask her only daughter if she had maybe noticed the training which had been occurring ALL SUMMER?  With a look of complete angelic ignorance, she indicated she had not taken the slightest notice and mumbled something about how it wasn’t her fault because I always run.  

It’s never her fault, I should not have been surprised, and Chicago was a ton of fun.  (I love Mariam to pieces, second “daughter” that she has become over the years).  Liv and I have been through a lot together in her (almost) 17 years and my (always, henceforth) 29 years.  Alone girl-only vacations are a staple and a tradition with us; never will a race take precedence.

Upon completion of our celebratory birthday weekend in the windy city, I came home and looked for Boston qualifier races.  Training was done, and there was no way I had the patience or wherewithal to continue running 40+ miles a week through May which is when most Spring marathons take place.  So…Alabama it was.

That trip was also one I will never forget.  Left Saturday morning, straight down I-65 through Nashville (where, mind you, I would love to be right.this.very.second), went to packet pickup, back to the hotel, room service, work, movie, bed.  Up on Sunday morning, toed the line, needed a 3:45 to qualify, ran a 3:41, hit the shower, and back on the road an hour later for the 9 hour trek home.

The whole way back to the Fort, I felt much like Sally Field must have sitting next to Burt Reynolds.  Well, other than she’s kind of annoying and whiny and I was by myself.  But, you get the point.  Bad ass central.  After going through a divorce less than 2 years before that, whereby I was told I had to “stop running and submit to everything I was told” if I wanted it to work, there’s really no other way to describe how I was feeling in that moment.  Very free.  Very healed.  Very ME. 

Much like the marathon, sometimes life is nothing more than an endurance test.  And, I cannot wait to write more about that whole topic in future posts.  Because much like I did during the campaign, I have decided to blog about my training leading up to April 21, 2014.  When I will be in Boston – the one place that I am finally good enough, strong enough, and doggone it…wait.  Was that Sally Field or Stuart Smalley?

Whatever.  I’m going.  In 82 days.

First 20-miler coming up this Saturday.  (Snow, you can take a number and go screw yourself right behind cancer.)