June 1 2015
Mary Barnett ran four races in one week following a mortar blast at her camp in Iraq.
Everyone can run. You don’t have to be tall, lean or have great legs to get out there.
I learned this a few years ago when I ran the New York City Marathon. Through my entire life, I’ve loved to work out. (I held my 16th birthday party at an aerobics class taught by Richard Simmons!) But I was told that, due to a case of mild scoliosis, I’d never be able to run for long distances.
But in 2005, I hit a rut in my life. I knew I needed something to wake me up out of my everyday routine. I decided that I was going to run a marathon. As a news correspondent, I had covered the Boston Marathon for a number of years. Following the lead runners in a truck I remember thinking, Why would anyone want to do this? But somewhere inside of me, this question planted a seed.
For me, the marathon symbolized something that I did not think I could do—something I’d been told I couldn’t accomplish. I wanted to see if those limits were real.
A wise man gets help from others, so I hired a personal trainer and a life coach. When I started training, I had so much doubt. Yet, before I knew it, I was completing 21-mile runs.
On race day, I took my first steps over the Verrazano Bridge and started to feel an ache in my hip. My mind was in a quiet panic. Then, I began to experience something miraculous. Inspiration appeared at every turn. A man passed me wearing a T-shirt that read he was running for his 4-year-old son with cancer. Dozens of veterans wounded in Iraq ran by.
Then, many miles in with many miles to go, I saw a man paralyzed from the waist down pushing himself in a wheelchair. I took off and didn’t stop until I crossed the finish.
At the end of the day, we all have our reasons to get through those 26.2 grueling miles. Who am I to not compete with all of my strength? What’s a little scoliosis compared to the pain others endure? The only limitations we have are those we have placed on ourselves.
MY BEST ADVICE: READ EVERYTHING THAT YOU CAN GET YOUR HANDS ON.
While training, I read First Marathons, which is about 37 unlikely runners who completed the 26.2-mile journey. Each chapter brought me closer to believing that if they could finish a marathon, then I could finish the race.