There aren’t many reasons I’d walk 13 miles: I wouldn’t walk a mile for my favorite dessert. I’d drive 13 miles—or more—for a good Black Friday sale, but I wouldn’t do it on foot. And even when I’m walking the dog, I always stop far short of 13 miles. Not until I signed up to participate in the Marathon for Moms did I find a reason worthy of 13 miles … actually, 13.1 if you’re counting (and I am).
My intent for signing up for Marathon for Moms was not to join the ranks of half marathoners but to raise money for Elizabeth’s New Life Center, where I work as grant funds coordinator/bookkeeper. In truth, I meant only to support my co-worker Sarah in her marathon. But as I navigated the website I stumbled onto the registration page, and suddenly it seemed like a good idea.
It was my first experience in a half marathon. Up until then I didn’t have a clue what 13.1 and 26.2 stickers meant when I saw them on the back of cars. Now I get it. Half marathon and full marathon—if you survive either, it’s an accomplishment.
I would tell you that I trained for this event—but that would be an overstatement. Initially I tried, but soon my daily walks fizzled right back down to normal. Therefore, it was with a bit of uncertainty that I took my place, wearing my new athletic shoes, with 17,000 other walkers/runners at 7:30 a.m. on a late October Sunday in Columbus. It was 54 degrees, and I had left my jacket in the car. Big mistake—I was freezing. I found a little nook in a building and hovered there with other first-timers until it was time for the race to start (in hind sight, it probably would have been smart to stretch out, but … oh well).
I quickly joined forces with another Marathoner for Moms and stuck with her throughout the race. By the time we got to mile marker 1, it was 8 a.m. I did the math in my head and realized that at this rate it would take me more than six hours to finish; I picked up the pace. Mile 2 and 3 came quickly, and I started to get in a rhythm. All along the way there were crowds cheering, bands playing, and Gatorade and water stations. Most of the time we kept an even pace, but sometimes we would jog, just so we could use a different set of muscles. At mile 7 we took a short break. I felt my body start to go stiff—big incentive to keep moving; we hit the road again.
We crossed the finish line in just under four hours. Wrapped in a blanket. I drank chocolate milk and ate a banana, my body starting to feel right again. Otherwise, I felt great! I’d just raised more than $800 for Elizabeth’s New Life Center. I’m so grateful for friends and family who so generously sponsored my walk.
Until I started working for ENLC in 2003, I had never faced the issue of out-of-wedlock pregnancy or abortion. No one I knew had been in that situation—at least no one who admitted it to me. So Elizabeth’s New Life Center was my introduction to the plight of women dealing with unplanned pregnancies—and a real eye-opener. I discovered that I’d found more than a job; I found a cause. I wanted to help these women. Along the way, I’ve found some other ways to do that, but when I participated in Marathon for Moms, it was for one sole reason: to walk 13 miles in their shoes.