This is our first post in the “Smyrna Voices” series. This series will serve up a little glimpse into the lives of local parents and will highlight our challenges and triumphs. Our first contributor, Susie, is currently blogging about her journey towards running the Chicago Marathon on her 40th birthday. You can read more posts at Running and Living: 40 Thoughts for 40 Years.
When I was 2 ½ years old I started ballet. My dad was sitting in the first row at my first dance recital with a video camera. He said I walked to the front of the stage before the music began and said, “Hey dad, watch this!”
Dance has always been a part of my life, whether I was performer or just a spectator, my love and appreciation for the art of dancing has been a part of me. I emphasize more the “love” and less my actual talent. I took classes up into my freshman year of high school, with jazz always being my favorite. It has to be said that I am a proud fan of the movie Centerstage. I took a break in high school, especially when I learned that you had to do a toe touch to be on the dance team. I swam on my high school swim team, and my races of choice were either the 100M backstroke or 500M freestyle. I returned to dancing in college and joined the Furman University dance team. I have even taken some drop in classes over the years at a local studio in Atlanta. However, since leaving college, most of my touch with dance has been as a spectator, whether I was watching the Nutcracker at the Fox Theatre, seeing a Broadway show with my dad, sitting with my mom and aunt at Lincoln Center watching the New York City Ballet or enjoying the season tickets that Bob bought me to the Atlanta Ballet. Things come full circle now that I spend an hour every Mondaymorning watching my daughter Megan growing her love of dance as a new ballerina.
So, this is what I have known. I have always loved aerobic classes as my form of exercise, when I actually made it to the gym. I can’t even count how many gym memberships I have had over the years that have gone mostly unused. Sure my health problems have gotten in the way at different points, but I couldn’t always use that as an excuse. One thing was for sure, I was never a runner.
In my adult life, I have been a professional race spectator. I can make the signs and scream the “way to go” cheers for all that pass by me. My brother-in-law was the trailblazer for the Hubbard runners as he completed his first marathon in Atlanta on Thanksgiving Day 2005. The whole family was there to see it, including the new puppy. As the years went by, my awesome Hubbard sister-in-laws joined in as well as my hero of a husband. Bob and I have participated in several 5K races over the years as walkers, especially for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. Those races always made me very emotional as I was surrounded by other people that were either suffering from or supporting someone with the same disease I was facing. I did try to keep my sense of humor as I wore my “They took my colon and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” shirt. Keeping my sense of humor has always been one of my greatest weapons.
Needless to say, watching my Hubbard siblings and my husband race all these years has been a charging experience, whether I saw my sister-in-law Tiffiny finish her first marathon in Atlanta or seeing my husband and sister-in-law Betsy cross the finish line of the Disney marathon and high five Mickey. I watched them on that journey and imagined what it meant to meet that goal. But I knew it wasn’t just about that day, but all the days and runs that led them there that was the real journey. I was so inspired and proud of all of them and started thinking and wondering . . . could I do it?
This road over this next year is not my first attempt at training for a race. In 2008, I signed up with my very dear friend to walk/run the 2009 Atlanta Half Marathon. I really wanted to give this distance a try and it meant so much to both my friend and me. Bob and I were in the middle of infertility treatments and trying in vitro fertilization. We were in our third attempt leading up to the race and I was scared to train too much as I didn’t want to jeopardize our chances of getting pregnant. The procedure was not successful, but I showed up on race day and we finished together with our hands in the air. It was a personal victory for both of us. But I was not satisfied. I knew I didn’t give it my very best. Bob and I share a love of Walt Disney World and decided in the spring of 2009 that we were going to sign up for the Disney Half Marathon in January 2010. I even started training for a sprint triathlon that spring as well, something I always wanted to do. To emphasize the magnitude of the months that followed, we had our fourth and final unsuccessful in vitro fertilization attempt, my mom passed away in July, and three weeks later I had a full hysterectomy due to my worsening case of endometriosis. The hardest months of my life. My training did not happen that fall, but I showed up on race day in January 2010 and we finished together with our hands in the air.
Something about running made me feel alive and powerful.
I know I am a competitive person, but this wasn’t about competing. It was about showing myself that I could do better. Let’s try this again. In 2012, I starting thinking about this idea, this blog, and running a full marathon the year I turned 40. Before I reached that milestone, I wanted another try at the two races that I wasn’t able to give my all. I started training again in March 2012 and ran the Mableton Day 5K that May. I found out weeks before that I had a malignant tumor in my left kidney that was operable and needed to be removed. I showed up on race day and ran a personal best. I had the surgery in June 2012 and after a month of recovery, put my running shoes back on and continued my training. A very dear friend decided to join me in training for the Disney Half Marathon in January 2013. My training went really well and I pushed myself harder every week, sometimes ignoring the pain in my leg as I hit mile 6 or 7. It eventually went away. We packed up our toddlers, husbands, and enough groceries each to feed a small army and headed for the Happiest Place on Earth. I showed up the day of the race and we both made our personal best times! I was very pleased with myself and could not wait to give the Atlanta Half Marathon another try.
After ignoring the growing pain in my leg that I exacerbated on race day, I headed to see a physical therapist. I learned two lessons from the Disney training and race. First, when training, it is important to both strengthen your muscles alongside your running. I had only been running and injured my left iliotibial band. Ouch! It took me months to calm it down. The second lesson I learned is to run the race for which you trained. I pushed myself harder than ever as I was so excited. But, I hurt myself worse in the end because I didn’t take the breaks I had planned for and my body was used to having. Needless to say, due to my injury, I was not able to participate in the 2013 Atlanta Half Marathon. I showed up the day of the race, and cheered Bob on the whole way. I was so proud of him.
So, here I am. I have a new goal and renewed motivation. The Hot Chocolate 15K in January, the Atlanta Half Marathon in March, and the Chicago Full Marathon next October have my name all over them. I am hitting the gym, putting the time in, and living my life. Let’s see where this journey goes, but I know I can do it. Whether I watched you or ran with you, thank you to all of those who have paved the way for me.
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A New Orleans girl turned Georgia peach and stay at home mom to 2 daughters. Before taking the leap into full time mothering, I worked at at an Atlanta-based advertising agency. I have lived in Smyrna for almost 10 years and am still not sure how I managed to find a job more chaotic and unpredictable than advertising.