Redemption. That's what running means to me.
For three years I've been trying to earn a number for the Boston Marathon. And this year I'm running it. Of all the years I've been pouring my blood, sweat, and tears into earning a spot on that starting line, this is the last year I thought I'd get actually make it to Hopkinton.
Last year was hard. Like, really hard. One week in to 2012 I underwent emergency surgery. When I was seven years old I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Exactly 20 years later, complications from that initial surgery had sprung up and my intestines shut down.
I was in the hospital for two weeks following the surgery battling an array of complications. Once I was finally released, I learned to walk again on my own. And then once again I learned to run. The experience of a first run for one who has been forced to put her most necessary hobby aside for months can only be described as approaching euphoria.
Five months later, I learned I would be back in the hospital for another major stomach surgery. In between the act of finding a doctor I trusted and a hospital I respected for this last go-around, my personal world was flipped upside down.
I was shattered. Emotionally homeless. Kept alive solely by the kindness and support of my friends and family as I slept on their couches and cried in their arms. Running lost its joy. I couldn't bear to be alone.
But then one day I got out of bed and put on my running shoes once again. And every day I grew a little bit stronger. Every day I held my head a little bit higher. I went back to my team at Back on My Feet and found the support and solidarity I needed. I was bolstered by the friendship of my coworkers.
By then, it was time to head back into the hospital, two weeks before Christmas. I've been poked and prodded, measured and stitched, weighed and sliced into more times in the past year than I hope many will ever in their lifetime. And then, six weeks after I was wheeled into the recovery room with a scar in a perfect T running from my belly button to my bikini line and across, I once again put on my running shoes.
Granted, those first two miles were a doozie. But I was steeled by the fact that Back on My Feet was providing me with a number for the 2013 Boston Marathon. Every step I take over the next three months is one step closer to Hopkinton.
I am healthy. I am happy. I am stronger every day. Running is my redemption. With 2012 behind me, crossing the finish line on Boylston Street will be unlike any other finish line I've crossed. It is the starting line of my new life.
Please join me in supporting the nonprofit that brings redemption to men and women across the country every day. We will raise our heads higher because we are doing something great. When the world seems its darkest, we find dawn with the lacing of our sneakers. Whether it's one mile or 26.2, we will find redemption in our finish lines. Because they are just the beginning. Donate here.
And if you can't give, don't worry, you're still awesome in my book. Come out to Boston on April 15 and cheer me on then ply me with beers. It'll be a great day.
For more information about Back on My Feet, just ask (I work there, duh!) or visit www.backonmyfeet.org.