Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Marathon

Back in the day (as my nephew says to describe events that happened a few years ago) the only people who ran marathons were marathon runners. Professional-type runners. People who are experts at running and who run all the time, not people who just up and decide "hey I'll run a marathon". But times are changing and regular people are running marathons. My neighbor ran a marathon or two and so did one of my close friends. Neither are professional runners and I've heard their stories of chiropractic visits and steroid shots but of the exhilaration that comes from trying something new, pushing themselves farther, reaching a goal.

I don't get it. Every time I see a runner on the edge of the road, sweating, looking determined yet tortured and wearing a belt of water bottles one thing comes to mind- crazy. I don't see the exhilaration. I don't see the goal. I'm not inspired to get my sneakers on, strap a water bottle to my waist and push my body to new limits. Why on earth would anybody want to run for miles and miles with no end in sight? Crazy I tell you. Crazy. I mean good for you and all if you're planning to run a marathon but crazy.

In January I announced to Andy that I was going to write a book. In fact, I had already started work on the outline, organizing notes I'd made for years, making good use of the quiet, long weekend Zach and I spent at home while Andy and Jake were enjoying the snow in Colorado. It was supposed to be a family trip but plans change and Zach and I got off the plane before it left the gate in Houston. I, wife and mother, formerly employed as an interior designer and then a teacher and having no formal writing classes or experience, began a project that was brand new and would push me far beyond my comfort zone. Really who just up and writes a book? Regular people don't, writers do and I'm not a writer, am I? I feel a case of crazy coming on.

Andy could have said, "You, write a book? Why?" But he didn't. Instead my be-the-action husband said, "Good, it's about time." He knew I'd always wanted to do this, to write a book. He knew I had this in me. For years I'd dreamed about writing an incredible story, one that captivates the reader and makes her care and feel and think between the lines. I wanted to write something that would have a reader missing the characters at the end of the story wondering what happens next, why did that story have to end? But as someone who loves to read and who has pined for characters after the story ran out, I just couldn't imagine pulling it off. And really do we need another book? One trip to Barnes and Noble proves my point. Thousands of published books, some incredibly good. What would I write to compete for a space on the shelf? So I set the dream aside because I didn't have a story to tell.

I kept thinking about it though and over time I realized I had a story. My beautiful Zach was born on a Thursday and almost slipped away on a Saturday but he didn't and every day with him is a bonus. He will be 7 years old in a month. His life, his differences, the difference he makes, that's my story. I wrote entire chapters in my head before I ever wrote anything on paper. I wrote notes and phrases and ideas on scraps of paper. I jotted down possibilities for the title and colors to be used on the cover and then finally in early February I started typing. Just to make it real I told my family about the book. I shared it with a few friends too. No one said I was crazy.

The goal was to finish the book in 40 days. I didn't meet that goal. Even with a thorough outline and many chapters completed in my mind, it still took more than 40 days to get it on the computer. The boys would be out of school the first week of June and I barely got the book finished before summer descended. The day I typed that last sentence through tears I hit save, threw my hands in the air and pumped my fists much like a runner does when he crosses the finish line. Then I put my face in my hands and prayed.

It is exhilarating to take a dream and make it into a goal and then work to achieve it. It's scary too because my little dream of writing a book was safe in my head and I could visit that dream and it always turned out the way I wanted. Who needs the struggle, the moments of insecurity and the doubt that comes from actually chasing a dream? Add in the persistent thought that time could be better spent on something real not some crazy dream and I could talk myself out of accomplishing anything. But not this time.

So that was my marathon. I started running and didn't stop until the finish line, the last page, the end. My goal was to write a book and I did. But I'm getting ready for another marathon, I'll need to find an agent who thinks my book is good and who will sell it to a publisher. The odds are against me to get the book published but I am working as hard on this goal as I did the first one. I'm moving ahead scared about what may not happen but excited about what just might. Published or not, it won't diminish the fact that my dream of writing a book became a completed goal.

What's your marathon? Tell me I'm not the only one out here with a crazy dream.


  1. Good for you! I'm trying to make money on the internet and it is a fascinating journey to just learn new things. I'm like you; maybe nothing will come of it, but what if something would? It's worth the "running" either way!

  2. I wish I could make really running a marathon my marathon, but my knees won't stand for it. My marathon is finishing a project that I started when u started ur book! U met ur goal! And since Ive read it, I can say you finished first place!

  3. The marathon metaphor is a keen one. I love the idea that we all have marathons. And I think we do. Best of luck with your next marathon.

  4. this is a great post, thank you for recognizing the many different challenges we take on - inspiring!