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My journey to 26.2 miles! A Tribute to some very special people in my life...

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Tribute to a few special people in my life who have helped me get to where I today. May I make you all proud.

I have finally made it to the final days before my first marathon. I find myself reflecting back on my journey, and I am proud of how far I have come but I find myself realizing that I have a long road ahead of me. I have goals and dreams before me but I know that in time, with discipline and a great deal of patience, anything is possible with God leading the way!

My journey to this marathon started well before most of you may think. As a child growing up my parents started running, and I remember going to races to watch my Dad run. I was so very proud! My aunt was, and is, an elite accomplished runner, and her influence spread throughout the family and inspired us all to take up running and lead healthier lives. My Mom and I ran the Susan G. Komen 5k together when I was in middle school. Once in high school I was on the track and cross country team. I was inspired and motivated by my family to continue running which eventually lead to my first triathlon at the age of 15.

One of my triathlons I did while in high school

You must remember that my weight gain did not begin until I was in my 20's. My whole life I was fit and active and running was just another part of our life. When I was 15 years old my Dad signed up for his first marathon, the Dallas White Rock Marathon. He trained and trained along side my Mom who would go out with him on his long runs, and she would ride her bike beside him cheering him on. They would tell me stories of how she would even sing to him! I remember the example it set for me of how a marriage should be: one spouse supporting the other with their dreams. It was a beautiful thing. However, the night before the marathon my Mom became very sick and my Dad--after all of his training--could not leave her side. He missed the race.

I have no doubt it was hard for my Dad after so many months of training. But his love and devotion for my Mom far outweighed any desire to race. How could he run his first marathon and not have his bride, his best friend there with him? I always admired my Dad for making my Mom a priority, and the love he showed that day is something I will never forget. Nevertheless, I do not think I fully understood his decision until now.

Daddy, you may not have been able to finish your marathon but you just know that when I cross that line, you will be in my heart and I will make you proud! You have always been such an amazing example to me and for the many, many times you and Mom have encouraged me along this long journey, I thank you. Thank you for always believing in me and knowing that even though I lost my way, I would make it back to the girl you once knew, and I would be living the life God has in store for me.

A few memories from our family races growing up...

I have been training for some time now, and I can honestly say that marathon training is more than long runs, speed work and fueling properly. It is an emotional journey--one that requires a commitment you must make with all your heart and one that will directly affects those close to you. When you are exhausted, drained or injured it affects everyone. Your spouse has an important role to play. They can either lift you up and motivate you more than anyone else could or marathon training can take a toll of them as well. For me, I am blessed in that this training has only brought my husband and I closer together in ways we never could have imagined.

In 2010, we were blessed with our little girl, and once again my life and this new journey I was on was changed forever. My running and workouts changed in the best possible way. I went from morning runs to running on the treadmill during her naps and running with her in the BOB stroller. When I look back at my weight loss after having my girl, they are some of the best memories I have in terms of the entire weight loss journey. We spent so many days together out on the trails sharing special moments while I was getting back into shape. In many ways, she was my training partner leading up to this marathon. She was my running buddy--something I will always hold dear in my heart. I feel as if we did this together. I cannot wait to tell her stories of our runs together and how her Daddy made my marathon training so very special for me. Someday, who knows, maybe we will be cheering her on as she races towards the finish line!

One of my runs with my girl in 2011 while I was losing my baby weight and making incredible memories as a new Mom! It was one of the happiest times of my life.

A snowy run with my girl during our first winter here in Norway.

The journey which lead me to where I am today was not an easy one. It was a hard journey with many heartaches, but my husband stood by me the entire time. While I felt embarrassed and so ashamed with myself, he always lifted my spirits and continued to make me feel so very loved. In his eyes, I was perfect. True, he did not see just how much weight I was gaining. Maybe he should have been tougher on me, but it is not in his spirit to do so. This devotion and love for me continued when I began my weight loss journey in 2006.

I remember every day when he would come back from the office and could not wait to read my fitness blog and hear about what my workouts were for the day! He would get so excited seeing if I increased my weights or rep count when began focusing on strength training. He used to help me with my push ups, stretching after a workout or sometimes standing next to the treadmill cheering for me as I was doing sprint intervals. Consistently year after year, he was there. How does someone give so much of themselves? It was truly beautiful, and it was one of the biggest reasons I have succeeded with my weight loss the way that I have.

My husband never seemed to lose faith in me. I remember sitting on the couch in Russia and signing up for what would be my first triathlon in years!! We were moving back to the US and I had not swam or biked in forever. I had lost about 70 lbs at that point, and I was bound and determined to get back to triathlons. Even though I did not even own a bike, I signed up and he was so very proud of me. He surprised me months later with a scrapbook that he made me for all my triathlon bibs and memories. Again, he showed me that my dreams, my goals are his as well. His heart is so invested in my journey it has truly become his own!
Just as my father recognized my mother's love and devotion for him during his training. I too understand just how much this race means to my husband. When I struggle, he struggles with me. When I cross that finish, he will be with me in my heart just as if he was running beside me cheering me on all the way. I will never forget the countless long runs we had together during this training. My husband would drive to various mile markers, his homemade signs in hand and would be jumping around cheering like a mad man. Only true love can make someone do such things!

I am crossing this finish line for many, many reasons. But I could not have made it to this point without the support and dedication from you, my precious husband, Micah. You’re my everything. I run this race for you. I will try my best to make you so very proud of me and with every step you will be right there with me. I cannot thank you enough for the many early mornings you helped me get ready for my long runs. The countless times I cried and cried knowing we had to cancel another race due to injury. The days and nights I poured my heart out to you telling you my dreams and how I wanted to be more, I wanted to do more and yet I did not know how. You raised me up when I was down and you pushed me forward in my darkest hours.

Thank you my love for ALWAYS being there for me, in all things. I dedicate this race, this journey and this moment to you. Forever, I will thank God for bringing you into my life.

Here are some memories from a few of my runs during my marathon training....

What an amazing journey this has become! I cannot wait to see what God has in store for me next! One thing I do know is that I can reach any dream, as long as I have my eyes fixed on Christ.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    What a beautiful, inspiring story. Thank you so much for sharing.
    1949 days ago
  • JOLIE_
    Great blog, great story, and have an amazing run!
    1949 days ago
  • AKA639
    What a wonderful story. Yup you got me in tears too. I've been reading your blogs throughout your Spark history with goals met, inuries and upsets, and I'm so excited and happy for you to be headed to Dublin. I love seeing your little girl with a sign cheering you on. Beautiful! I love seeing the pics of pre-spark (gotta love big hair) and most of all I love how history has repeated itself. You and your husband have something very beautiful, very much like your parents. I hope to find something like yours. I'll be sending you positive vibes and inspiration.

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1949 days ago
  • ELSAT137
    Awesome blog! You made me tear up to read your tribute to the wonderful people in your life. God Bless tomorrow!! emoticon
    1949 days ago
    Great blog. Good luck on your marathon!!!

    1949 days ago
    Jen's the written words can't express how I feel - you have great support seen and unseen. You will carry a part of each of us on your journey.
    1949 days ago
    When I read a blog that makes me cry, I end up strengthened. I am now so strong! Thank you for sharing this very touching journey.
    1949 days ago
  • ERIN1957
    Bravo, beautiful and so inspiring!!
    1949 days ago
  • JACKIE542
    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing. It is great to have so much support. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1949 days ago
  • LAURIE5658
    Jen, the actual marathon is such a surreal moment in time and that magic will carry you through. Will it be tough? Perhaps, but the spirit that lies within you is strong. Dublin will change you forever and savor each and every minute.

    1949 days ago
    What a fantastic story!

    I love, love, LOVE that your DD is your training buddy... my daughter is just a bit older, and I completely understand the bond you form over the miles together.

    I can't wait to hear about your race!

    Wishing you the best of luck!!!
    1949 days ago
    Your story is amazing and inspiring thank you so much for sharing, and good luck emoticon
    1949 days ago
  • BEN09262009
    Great job on being so dedicated to what you do. You inspire so many people and you WILL make your mom and dad proud! Making memories is one of my favorite things to do- your daughter will greatly appreciate all the time you spent with her!
    1949 days ago
    What a great blog!!! Thank you so much for sharing with us!
    1949 days ago
  • CBRIGGS1956
    Jen, thanks for sharing your running journey with us and for the pictures, what a beautiful place.
    1949 days ago
  • MYTURN11
    As do most marathon runners here on SP amaze me, you amaze me as well. I have been following your training on FB. I never knew you started running so young and that your Mom & Dad were runners too I loved this blog and the pictures as well. Best wishes for your Dublin marathon. That is so exciting and to think your husband and daughter will both be there for you like that just makes me tear up. Blessings to you Jen and have fun!
    1949 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/25/2012 8:28:29 AM
    Great pics!
    You have come a long way...and what I am seeing is you have come FULL CIRCLE.
    Being active was something you did as a child...and now you are doing the same thing as a mother.
    That's nearly 30 miles!!!! Do you ever get in your car and DRIVE THE DISTANCE of how far your legs have carried you? I do. I am in ah of 3-5 miles. Nearly 30m would be like driving from city to city!

    I am a mother of THREE GIRLS (3rd Sister of three girls) I can feel your joy of doing things with your daughter.
    I recently did a cancer 5k with MY DAUGHTER for the 2nd year in a row. (see my blog 10/23 for our pic)
    Keep up the good work. Very inspiring.
    1949 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/25/2012 8:26:59 AM
    What a superb blog! Such love for your family - and them to you. Congrats on your successes and wishing you many, many more!! emoticon
    1949 days ago
    Thanks for this story,
    You are an amazing inspiration!!!
    Keep up the good work! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1949 days ago
    So AWESOME!!!!! What an inspiration!! emoticon
    1949 days ago
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