Mile 21 of any marathon can be an emotional place. Believe me. You’re tired, you’re hungry, your legs are hurting, and you’re wondering what on earth you were ever thinking when you signed up for this kind of pain. Sometimes you don’t know if you’re actually going to finish. Five more miles seems like a tall order. Or is it five miles? At that point, you’re not sure. Even simple math can be too much to handle.
And then someone catches your eye and cheers you on. For me, during my first marathon – the Mayor’s Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska – it was a lady holding a sign thanking the runners for their efforts and identifying herself as a leukemia survivor. I had trained for the race with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training and had spent hours and hours running and raising money that would benefit victims of blood cancers like leukemia. That little glimpse into what my contribution could mean to someone was almost too much. As I passed that woman with her sign, I welled up with tears and resolved to run faster and finish strong. Her support helped carry me through the last 5 miles of the race.
Team in Training is just one of many charities that link strengthening your body to nourishing your soul – as mine was throughout my training and racing. These charities offer the chance to reach out to others, become a part of a loving and supportive community, work towards a worthy cause, set and achieve goals, and improve your own health while you’re at it. And believe me, if you end up in tears as you cross the finish line, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. You’ll be in good company.