Bittersweet Victory


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On October 7, 2012 I ran my first marathon in Chicago, and it is hard to believe that this weekend I will be running it for the fifth time; it will be my 13th marathon. During these past four years I have run Chicago four times, Boston three times, Paris, London, Tokyo, New York, and Berlin. These races have had a profound influence on my entire life in so many ways. I have transformed physically, mentally, and spiritually throughout this time, and my growth continues. Sometimes the growth has been wonderful, while other times it has been sad, or difficult. Recently I have had a few experiences where it has been a bit of both at the same time, so it has become a bit of an emotional limbo that I am processing. After thinking about it some I have realized that this is a good thing, because I am really taking in all of my experiences of this journey, and really allowing everything in to my “house”. This post is going to be a little bit more short, as I wanted to convey the feelings that I have had over the past few weeks, and I didn’t want this post to take away from writing about my recent race in Berlin, or my upcoming race in Chicago.

My goal for 2016 is to complete all of the Abbott World Marathon Majors in one calendar year. I am getting pretty darn close, as I only have two left – Chicago and New York. I know that this isn’t going to be easy, but somehow I have been able to incorporate it in to my daily life. I’m running anyway, because I like it, so I just happen to have 6 races in between. No big deal, right? I never really thought about the emotional toll it would take on me, both good and bad. I started this journey to honor my mom, and aunt, by raising cancer awareness – and dollars for the American cancer Society. Each of my races have been different, but my goal has been the same. I also enjoy the races very much, so it isn’t just about doing things for others. In the past few months, however, some things have happened that have made me really acknowledge what I am doing, and it has been pretty emotional.

The first thing that happened was that I became part of an article on people in the wine business that are long distance runners. The Wine Enthusiast Magazine reached out to me and I was able to tell some of my story. The article, “Miles and Malbec”, was featured on their website at the beginning of September, and it included some of my favorite people. I was really excited about this, as I am raising money for charity and every bit of exposure helps me get closer to my goal. I wasn’t trying to be recognized for what I was doing, because the charity part was my focus, but I think after it came out I began to think more about what “I” was doing. This began some of my bitter sweet feelings, as I started to get a little nostalgic.

The second thing that happened, which I am sure will affect me more after this coming race day in Chicago, is that NBC News Chicago filmed a spot about me that will be shown during their coverage of the race. This experience was much more profound, and in my face. Whereas my intentions for the article was to help get the word out, so I thought, this tv spot forced me to really think about what was happening. The premise for filming was that NBC, and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, would showcase the story of three runners that were doing the race for a special purpose. They heard about what I was trying to achieve with running all the majors for charity, so I was chosen. The day before filming I was in Los Angeles for work. The entire time I was there I had something nagging me in the back of my mind. While I was out to dinner it hit me like a ton of bricks; I would not have been there if it hadn’t have been for a very big loss in my life. I am not one to toot my own horn, and I am definitely not comfortable with recognition. I tend to discount achievements, because I think they are things that I would genuinely want to do anyway. However, at that moment, I realized that I was being recognized for what I had done, and it was incredibly sad because I did this because of the death of my mom. So as wonderful as having this honor is, I was, and still am, a little sad about it.

At about the same time I was filming for Chicago I had a sudden realization that once I completed the Berlin marathon I will have completed all six marathon majors in 11 months. So, once I have finished with NYC marathon in November I will have completed all in 11 months, then all of them in one calendar year. This led to the third thing that hit me, and has really made this bittersweet of late, is that I was overcome with such emotion when I finished the Berlin Marathon. The Berlin Marathon was amazing, but a little difficult towards the end from the heat. I am not sure if this exhaustion set me off a bit, but as I was finishing the last mile I was hit with such a profound bittersweet feeling that it was stifling. I have run every single mile on my own two feet. I have physically, and more-so mentally, powered through 314.4 miles in races, on 3 continents.  But, the deep feeling, and not just the meaning, of why have I done these races is something I don’t always feel. Last Sunday it hit me exponentially. I  was elated to have completed another race, to have completed all six, but there was still an emptiness. Honoring and grieving can be very similar, or one is a part of the other – I think -and at that moment that turned to feeling bittersweet.

Some things are good to take lightly, but I am realizing that this is definitely not one of them. Even though this is bittersweet I have learned the lesson that it is OK to acknowledge myself. I still may not me one to toot my own horn, unless I attach it to a cause, but I can be aware of my accomplishments. I still have two more races to go before I finish my goal for the year, so I am by no means finished, and 52.4 miles is a lot of running to get done. It is OK to feel bittersweet, but I guess it was something that I was not prepared to feel. I will see what the coming weeks will bring. I will also recap how Berlin and Chicago were, after this weekend.

As a teaser…they serve hot tea during the Berlin marathon. I thought it was crazy, but it sorta hit the spot.

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