When I first said those fateful words to my personal trainer in February of 2008, "Wait I have one more goal...I want to run the 2009 Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab" I had no idea where that path would lead. Keep in mind I had never run a day in my life. I chronicle my journey in my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility."
When I crossed the finish line of the 113th Boston Marathon, I knew that while I experienced a personal moment of redemption
which is so eloquently expressed in Dean Karnazes article, The Marathon.
The Marathon is not about running, it is about salvation. We spend so much of our lives doubting ourselves, thinking that we’re not good enough, not strong enough, not made of the right stuff. The Marathon is an opportunity for redemption. Opportunity, because the outcome is uncertain. Opportunity, because it is up to you, and only you, to make it happen.
I knew it was a moment that was far more important than just my accomplishment.
He goes on to say,
Courage comes in many forms. Today you will have the courage to keep trying and not give up regardless of how dire things become. And indeed dire they do become. At the 26-mile mark you can barely see the course any longer, your vision is faltering as you teeter precariously on the edge of consciousness.
And then, suddenly, the finish line looms before you. Tears stream down your face as you realize you might make it. Now, finally, after years of torment you can answer back to that nagging voice of uncertainty in your head with a resounding: Oh yes I can!
This year, as runners crossed the finish line of the 2014 Boston Marathon and as one million spectators lined the course, it was a moment of redemption for each individual as they found the courage to return to the course. It was an opportunity for redemption for the City of Boston and the ripples of that redemption extended out beyond our city's borders across the world.
It takes courage for us to also move forward now beyond the moment of redemption. I continue to heal from the events of 4/15/13 and the 9 years of unrelenting trauma I experienced in my childhood as well as the trauma of my nephew's suicide in March of 2011. I know that a distance longer than a 10K is not right for my body. It takes effort and intention to maintain a regular fitness schedule living with the late effects of polio. While I have experienced a miracle of healing - many miracles of healing, I also live with reality of my physicality as it is now.
I now test the limits in my own way while cherishing that marathon medal:
And the distance and the time no longer matter for me as they once had. Every day is an opportunity for redemption for me as I live well in the wake of those who tried to destroy me when I was growing up. Every day is an opportunity for redemption as we continue to run and spectate being an even stronger and more running vibrant community in the wake of 4/15/13.
And whether I run, spectate or volunteer at these events, it is an opportunity for redemption that I can be a part of this amazing community when 7 years ago I faced an uncertain future. I was diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease that was slowly claiming my mobility and my life. But here I am thriving and every day is an opportunity for redemption in the marathon of life.