Four years ago today, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon to celebrate my 60th birthday. I wasn’t sure I had it in me, but never underestimate the power of putting one foot in front of the other, listening to your instincts and trusting that regardless of the outcome, you’re better for having made the effort.
The night before race day, I laid out my marathon gear and debated whether I’d be able beat the bridge to actually cross the finish line. After all, I had bronchitis the month before which limited my training time, and I was still recovering from a huge blister on my heel. But I had made it to Washington, DC so I made up my mind to do my best.
From meeting walk-run coach Jeff Galloway, listening to the inspiring Team Semper Fi warriors during the pasta pre-race dinner, seeing my Arctic Annie on the course in her official-looking bike gear, to savoring the serendipity of sharing 23 miles of the course with a runner named the same as my marathon guardian angel, the day was one I’ll never forget.
I’d like to think I have another half or full marathon in me, but if not, I’ll always have MCM15.
“Never limit where running can take you.”
Listening to Bart Yasso describe his running adventures during the Runner’s Brunch the day before the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon, I felt moved, inspired, and grateful to have made it that far. He described his most memorable Marine Corps Marathon when in 2001, a little more than a month after 9/11, runners solemnly ran past the gaping hole in the Pentagon . “All you could hear were the runners’ footfalls,” Bart reflected.
I’ve never forgotten that story nor his advice about never limiting where running can take you, which brings me to today. The story of that 2015 marathon journey is published in a book called “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Running For Good”.
I started writing a memoir last November and hadn’t considered submitting any other writing for publication until I read a Facebook post about Chicken Soup for the Soul accepting submissions. I knew both the stories of my half and full marathons fit the theme of “running for good”: I ran the 2012 Detroit Free Press Half Marathon with Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and I ran the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon for the Semper Fi Fund. I submitted both stories in February and in March was notified that among the thousands of stories submitted, “Semper Fi, Sister” had been chosen for their new book.
My Marine Corps Marathon journey was deeply personal to me. I had started running again after my divorce in 2011 and after recovering from knee injury that set my training back, I finished the half marathon in 2012. I thought my running days were over until I met my Arctic Annie, who inspired me to reignite that marathon dream.
While my marathon day was a magical mix of serendipity, running is never just about the big events. It’s about enjoying and making the most of life along the training trail. It’s about the journey of life’s changes, and my life has been transformed since that day in 2011 when I took my first Team in Training run after decades of not running. I met my partner, I started an internship that that I’ve now completed in a career that I love…and now, I’m a published author.
I am so very grateful to all the coaches, friends, and family who have supported me in achieving both my dream to run the marathon and of being published.
To Arctic Annie, who was with me every step and mile of the way during this journey of life, I Love You and I could not have done any of this without you by my side.
“Chicken Soup for the Soul: Running for Good” will be released in two days on Tuesday, June 4th.
I’m excited that “Semper Fi, Sister”, the story of my 2015 Marine Corps Marathon journey will be among the 101 stories in the book. It’s my first published story and hopefully this is only the beginning.
Memorial Day is a time to pay homage and remember the sacrifice of those who have been killed in action serving our country.
Today I’m remembering my marathon guardian angel Megan McClung, who as a Marine Corps Major served as a Public Affairs Officer in Iraq. A triathelete and accomplished marathoner, Megan was the first female Marine officer killed in action.
The flag-lined Blue Mile at the Marine Corps Marathon is a stark and emotional reminder to all the runners of fallen warrior sacrifices.
I will never forget yoursacrificemy Marine sister, and Semper Fidelis.
There were many memorable moments during my 2015 marathon training, and Justin Verlander’s 9K Win for Warriors run with Team Red, White and Blue on Memorial Day was a highlight.
The race began outside Tiger’s stadium at Comerica Park and we ran 5.4 miles along the waterfront and through the streets of Detroit. Near the end of the race, we entered a tunnel where someone handed me a flag. When I entered the stadium, I ran around the perimeter of the field and crossed the home plate finish line.
I had started training for the Marine Corps Marathon on January 9th and by May 25th had logged 239 miles. There were 150 days until marathon day…and more miles to cover than I wanted to think about.
It’s official…Semper Fi, Sister, the story of my 2015 Marine Corps Marathon journey to celebrate my 60th birthdayis included in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Running For Good” being released on June 4th!
Title IX granting equity in women’s sports didn’t pass until 1972, the year before I graduated high school. Any running I did was a short sprint to the phone or a shuttle run in PE class.
I first ran a half mile during my two week Army Reserve basic training. Upon enlisting in the Marine Corps, we were issued heavy, baggy baby blue blouses, skorts, and sneakers to run in. I asked my father to send me some new-fangled Adidas hoping it would somehow how make running more tolerable. They didn’t, and just for perspective sports bras didn’t enter the scene until the late 1970s. As the photo below of my bootcamp bunkie and I shows, 1976 Marine recruit running anything but fashionable.
Throughout my active duty years, we took periodic physical fitness tests (or PFTs) running a mile and a half with the shorter the time, the higher the score. Added to our run time was the flexed arm hang and sit-ups for a total PFT score.
I ran in the Marine Corps because I had to, and I gladly hung up my running shoes when my enlistment was over. If you had told that 21-year-old recruit I’d take up running nearly four decades later, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll share memories from the training trail leading up to that magical marathon day in 2015. It will be a fun run down memory lane…and I may just inspire myself to hit the trail again.
Four years ago today I posted this picture on Facebook with the following announcement:
Running the Marine Corps Marathon has always been a dream of mine and I’m not getting any younger so it’s now or never Baby!! I’ve been training since January, have already paid my entry fee for my bib, and will be paying all my own expenses in DC the weekend of the race (25 Oct 15)…now to earn my bib by raising money for the Semper Fi Fund, an A+ charity that provides immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post 9/11 wounded, critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Every penny I raise will go to the SFF. Please support our Warriors and the Semper Fi Fund.
Today, I’m happy to announce that the story of my magical 2015 Marine Corps Marathon journey will soon be published in an anthology. I’ll share more details when I can, but seeing this picture reminded me to keep dreaming big, because you never know where your dreams will take you.
I love a parade, don’t you? I began marching in parades at the tender age of 4 and I have the embarrassing pictures to prove it. My love of parades continued through high school marching band, so I was already an accomplished marcher by the time I joined the Marines. But enough about me, I want to share a parade of podcasts I thoroughly enjoy during my weekday 90+ minute commute. It’s a great way to catch up on favorite shows, get investing tips, or learn about the writing life.
With this month being NaNoWriMo, I’m kicking off my inaugural Podcast Parade with “Write-Minded: Weekly Inspiration for Writers”. Grant Faulker (NaNoWriMo Executive Director) and Brooke Warner (She Writes Publisher) blend interviews, inspiration, and writing tips with down to earth authenticity about their own writing lives. According to their website, they “… bring to this weekly podcast their shared spirit of community, collaboration, and a deeply held belief that everyone is a writer, and everyone’s story matters.” Love that.
I particularly enjoyed this week’s episode about NaNo Rebels, those who are not writing novels during NaNoWriMo. Because this first NaNo attempt I’m writing a memoir, I felt like an imposter among the novel writers. When I heard about NaNo Rebels, I immediately identified, “yup, that’s me”. Not only could I relate to being a NaNo Rebel, Grant and Brooke interviewed runner Cami Ostman, author of “Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continents”. Since I’m writing about my Marine Corps Marathon journey, I soaked up every minute of the podcast and added Cami’s book to my reading list.
Every podcast concludes with a writing action. This week it is ‘Write down three times you were defiantly sure of yourself.’ Okay Grant and Brooke, challenge taken:
Even though I was last chair in my high school band, I signed up to try out for All-State Band after attending Summer band camp. I not only made All-State Band, I got moved to Concert Band. It was the first time I learned that if I really applied myself, I could make dreams a reality.
I joined the Marines at 21. I was an Army Reservist but my father never believed I would go active duty. The day came when I was tired of sitting behind a desk and a Marine was the only military recruiter on duty. With “Where do I sign up?”, I was the easiest recruit he ever had and it was the best decision I ever made.
I hadn’t run in more than three decades when I signed up for a half marathon at the age of 56. I left doubters in the dust and on the couch.