“Accomplishment,” often describes how runners - including me - think about a marathon performance, and for many many women and men, including two of my daughters, completing the 2019 L.A. marathon was an impressive accomplishment.
When I think about that race, my word is ‘grateful.’ Here’s why:
We’re a family of runners: Kelly has run most of her life; my 21-year-old, Hannah, started in high school and I followed her into the sport; Larissa, now 17, was soon running as well. Both girls will sometimes even run with me. Grace, the eldest, is an enthusiastic spectator, and tolerates the running discussion (to a point).
Four years ago, Hannah and I decided to run our first marathon, so we signed up and trained through Boston’s cooling fall, and then ran up and down the beach to complete the Palm Beaches Marathon together. It was hot and humid and tough, and both of us felt a powerful sense of accomplishment when we staggered across the line.
Then I became obsessed, and started running for time. Larissa became obsessed too, and ran several half marathons and lots of 5Ks and 10Ks, as well as cross country and track. Her instagram feed added runners: @des_linden, @shalaneflanagan, @runmeb, and @bostonmarathon.
But she spent a lot of time deliberating about a marathon. Would it interfere with cross country? Would the focus on distance slow her down? Marathons are a lot of work.
She signed up for L.A., then Hannah said she would run too. Kelly even signed up (although just off achieving a PR at CIM she injured herself and couldn’t run).
Larissa modified a Hanson’s program, and didn’t miss a workout. She brought me along when she ran in the dark, and we did most of our long runs together, including an epic 20-miler consisting of two loops around the plowed portion of the Charles River path early one morning after a snow. Meanwhile, Hannah was training at college, up and down the St. Charles trolley track and around Audubon Park in New Orleans.
One run stands out for me: January 11, 2019. We left the house just after 5 a.m., and had the river to ourselves in the 20-degree darkness - six miles out and back along the Boston side. It was Larissa’s 17th birthday.
While the run was a demonstration of commitment by any kid, what makes that run remarkable - honestly what makes any run remarkable - is that Larissa has cerebral palsy and when she was born 13 weeks prematurely, it was entirely unclear that she would ever walk, let alone train for a marathon.
As the sun rose over downtown Los Angeles on March 24, we ran out of Dodger Stadium, north and west along Sunset, down Hollywood Boulevard and Rodeo Drive toward the finish in Santa Monica. Hannah had trained methodically, and ticked off mile after mile for a 4:14 - over an hour faster than her time in Palm Beach. Larissa and I were equally purposeful and finished half an hour later.
Sometimes meaning comes from who you’re running next to, and gratitude that you are running at all.