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A Love Note to the Marathon

Dearest Marathon,

Hope you are doing well. I am tired and my legs feel like two cinder blocks. I’m hungry, chafed, and have calluses on my feet and in my mind. You’ve broken my heart and body so many times, yet here we are again, my long-distance lover.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on my 20+ mile runs, and actually want to say thank you. Thank you for pushing me to the absolute edge, only to find that there truly is no edge, as long as I put health and joy first.

I’m grateful for all of the lessons you’ve taught me about my body, mind, and life itself. I used to think that hard work gave me control over outcomes, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is, success is never defined in outcomes, but rather how you carry yourself on your way there. There will be twists and turns and heartbreak and heartswell and everything in between. I think that you, the marathon - where anything and everything can happen - have taught me that best.

I think we truly start living when we realize that this isn’t all for an end goal. Life isn’t about what we do while we’re here, but rather who we are. It’s our connection to the world around us - the people, the places, the sky, the ground, and the very air that we breathe.

The past two marathons that I’ve trained for - California International Marathon 2021 and for this year’s race in 2022, I’ve finished the training cycle feeling like I’ve already won. I didn’t need the medal around my neck or the time next to my name to feel successful. I’ve done three months worth of long runs, workouts, and stacked hard effort on hard effort. Marathons are hard, but not nearly as hard as the preparation. We gravitate to the marathon to show ourselves that we can do hard things - and I have already done a Hard Thing. And I’m proud of it.

I never used to feel this way. The result was everything - and I remember well the anguish of feeling like all the hard work was wasted.

When we can show up with curiosity, joy, and grit all the while accepting that this day is both a blip in time and ripple effect for the rest of our lives, that’s when we’ve arrived. The marathon has taught me how to do that each and every day, even as life evolves.

I’ve seen a meme on Instagram that claims “A lot of people don’t realize you can usually go the day after the marathon and just drive the route. Very similar experience but way quicker.” While hilarious, there’s simply nothing like running 26.2 miles.

I love you, marathon. Thank you for teaching me about navigating the world.

Dr. Kacy


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