To Overcome

Originally posted on December 10, 2010 at 7:30 PM

This past Sunday, I went with Mom-in-Law to watch Hub-a-Dub run the White Rock Marathon in Dallas. Now, I’ve never had much interest in running. As I tell Kyle, I pretty much only run if I’m being chased. But what surprised me the most about being at the event was how emotional it made me. I almost cried about a dozen times. Seriously.

Like so many women are (and some men, too, although studies show that women are generally more so inclined than men), I’ve always been a very empathetic person. I’m one of those people who tends to make the facial expression of the person I’m talking to. It’s not that I’m making fun of them; it’s that I’m concentrating so hard on what they’re saying and trying to understand where they’re coming for that I end up mimicking them. It’s the same reason I cry in silly TV shows and hate it when my loved ones feel sad: I feel it too. Always have.

It was the same at the marathon. As we were hanging out around the sixteen mile marker waiting for Kyle to run by, I couldn’t help but look at the faces of the strangers running. Up until that moment, honestly, I’d dismissed them all as overzealous lunatics (in a friendly way). But seeing the determination, the exhaustion, the heartbreak, and the triumph in their faces as they trudged by – some of them barely walking – I couldn’t help but feel it all too. It was like I suddenly understood.


Now, everyone who runs marathons runs for different reasons. Some people do it to get themselves into shape, some people do it to prove something, some people do it as a lifestyle, some people run to support or promote a cause, and some people (as crazy as it seems) just do it for fun. But the type of person I really connected with were the people who looked like they were doing it to create and overcome an obstacle in their life.

At first, it seemed crazy to me. But then I realized that not all people have been through what I’ve been through, and not all people have the “life” goals I have. I do remember a time when I was about 12-15 that I longed for something dramatic to happen to test me as a person. I wanted life to throw something at me so I could prove myself. It might sound silly, but it wasn’t silly. It was a natural desire to grow. I think, just maybe, that some people who run marathons run because either 1) their life is too ‘easy’ and ‘happy’ to challenge their strength, or 2) they have such horrible things going on that they can’t overcome them, and they need something hard but possible to overcome to feel better. Those both make perfect sense to me, and in spite of the insanity and risks of running a marathon (especially if you aren’t smart about it), I approve.

For people who battle depression – and I guess anyone, really – it’s important to occasionally conquer a goal to gain a sense of achievement. Now I personally have such lofty full-time goals and a difficult enough life that I would never dream of using something as strenuous as a marathon to fulfill that need. (I like easy things, like getting to the top of a climbing wall or baking a new recipe.) But for other people, I could see how it might really work. So much so that I teared up as they ran by, and I couldn’t help but cheer for them to accomplish their goal. Run on, you lunatics, run on. (Not you, Hub-a-Dub. Please stop.)

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