An Open Letter to My Family and Friends

I know that endurance sports are a selfish hobby. They serve no real purpose other than to make me feel good about myself. They require long stretches of time spent training instead of enjoying time together. Sometimes I have to turn down invitations to dinner or drinks because I have to get up early to get in my workout. My house is dirty and cluttered and disorganized more often than not because I just don't have the time or the energy to pick up. At the end of the day, I have nothing tangible to show for all those hours I spent training instead of being with you.

But because of all the time with you that I've sacrificed, I've been able to do some amazing things. Things I never even dreamed possible. My hours of training have seen me cross countless finish lines, including 3 full marathons, 11 half marathons, and 8 triathlons. I've been at my best, my worst, and everywhere in between out on those training rides and runs. They've allowed me to find my inner strength and see what I'm made of. Every single one has been a journey to find myself.

As amazing as those things are for me, I know they don't hold the same weight for you. I know that you couldn't care less about my numbers, and that you'd be just as proud of me if it took me 8 hours to finish a race that should take 2. I know that, since most of you aren't runners or triathletes, there's a part of every triumph that you just can't fathom. I know that most of you wouldn't run that far or that fast unless someone was chasing you, and because of that, you don't always know how much work I put into these sports. I know that running has never given you the sense of personal satisfaction that it gives me, and that ultimately you think I'm crazy and you'll never truly understand why I put myself through training and racing.

Photo by Delly Carr / original article
A few months ago I saw this photo from an Ironman race, depicting a father struggling to finish and his daughter holding his hand, encouraging and pleading with him to finish. As I read the stories of the man, his daughter, and the photographer who captured that moving moment, I couldn't help but think of you, of all the times you've been there to support me and to encourage me. And, suddenly, I realized,

I do it for me, but I do it because of you.

I do it because you're willing to get up before sunrise and drive me to the starting line. I do it because, even if you can't physically be there, you mark your calendar just so you can send me a good luck text. I do it because I know I'll see you somewhere along the course holding a sign with my name on it. I do it because you care enough to take pictures of me running, so I don't have to spend an exorbitant amount of money on crappy race photos. I do it because you'll stand outside for hours just to give me a high five and watch me run by for 30 seconds. I do it because I'll know you'll be there yelling my name at the finish line. I do it because, even if the numbers mean nothing to you, you listen to me analyze them for an hour after the race. I do it because you'll oblige my mid-race runger pain texts and bring me whatever food and drinks I want at the post-race party. I do it because I know that if I ever need a hand to hold or encouragement to finish what I started, you'll be there. Even if you'll never understand the dizzying highs and the lonesome lows that I'm feeling, you'll be there for me.

I do it because you've always told me I could do anything I put my mind to. Because you believe in me and help me believe in myself. Because you taught me to never give up. Because you taught me that something I can't stop thinking about is something worth giving my best shot. Because as much as I train, as internally-motivated as I am, as much as I push myself, I'd never make it through a single race without your support.

I do it for me, but I do it because of you.

10 comments :

  1. I love that photo of the man and his daughter! And just so you know, I've been both the runner and the watcher during marathons. I know you said they stand outside for hours just to see you run by, but it's seriously fun! Far more fun than running the race, in fact. So don't worry - they're there for you AND they're having a good time :)

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  2. Yes, yes. Absolutely. 100%. You nailed this.

    John's a runner, too, so he gets it... but it seriously makes me tear up when I think about how he's supported me through every race. I fills me with such love when I think about how he stood around in the 20 degree RAIN and hopped from spot to spot to cheer me on in my first half marathon.
    LOVE this post.

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  3. I absolutely empathize with you feeling selfish! Training for a marathon felt like I was putting planning my wedding on the back burner and I didn't want my fiance (now husband) to feel that way. However, when I took a break from running afterward it totally affected my mental health. I'm a better wife, daughter, friend etc now that I'm running again!

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  4. well hot damn this made me cry. good tears. such a lovely post, and that picture is perfect.

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  5. I remember when you first shared that picture and I read the article with tears in my eyes too. And as I read this, I have to admit feeling a bit wistful because I don't have that support network—at least not yet. In many ways though, you (and Kristen) have been for me what you described above, so thank you both immensely for that. And if I'm being fully honest, that 5k I smashed last week? It was all about City of Oaks and it was all about seeing the crowd that'll be waiting for me at the end of 26.2. <3

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  6. Awwwww I love this post! So sweet!!! And that picture man. That picture gives all the feels. For what it's worth, I am proud of you for all you have accomplished. I will probably never run a marathon. I may never make it off that treadmill in my garage, but I can understand all that work you put it and what you sacrifice to do so. <3

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  7. You are such a talented writer! I feel like I say that every time you post something like this, but I really loved it. What a good reminder to appreciate and be thankful for the things people do for us even when it might not be what they want to do.

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  8. So true! Without my family and friends the whole racing experience wouldn't be nearly as fun!

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  9. I'm with Carly - I love love love your writing! Having an amazing support system is the best. I love that I have people to count on when I need them in my weakest but also there to celebrate when I'm at my best! At my last half marathon, when I saw my co-workers there, I got so emotional! It's a great feeling knowing these people are there for you because they care!!

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  10. You, your spirit and your words are so beautiful! This is amazing. Family and friends are everything! You rock!

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