A Monumental Challenge

One evening my husband and I sat chatting and I started talking about how I’d like to do something to lose a few pounds.

“How about taking up running. That is the best way I know to really burn through some calories,” he suggested innocently.

“Oh no, I can’t run” I quickly threw out there.

“How do you know if you can run?” His male mind replied.

“I know because I have never been able to run. I quickly get a side ache and then move on into the “I think I am going to die” zone when ever I run even for a short distance,” I countered.

“You don’t know if you can run or not. You have never actually trained to run. I don’t buy it. You could run if you really trained for it. I think you should pick a race and start training.” He challenged all full of testosterone.

All flustered and worked up I accepted his challenge. “Ok I will, but will you help me? I fired back.

“Yes I will. We start tomorrow,” he stated matter-of-factly.

Crap, what just happened. How does he do that! I sat there in stunned silence thinking about what I just committed to.

The next evening, ever true to his word, which is one of his most endearing charms most of the time, he walked in the door after work and said “Are you ready? Let’s go for a run!”

“Ready.” I said, and off we went down the street to our local high school track where my husband proceeded to give me lessons in how to run and I made a sad attempt at being a good student. I am embarrassed to report that after only one lap around the track I did in fact, think I was going to die. My heart rate, according to the special watch on my wrist, pretty much confirmed this as fact, but my husband is determined so on we went, round and round.

I made good on my word and he proved to be a patient and supportive trainer. I ran and ran. Slowly at first, well slowly even at last, but I did run. My progress was painfully slow which did kind of support my original hypothesis. My heart runs like a Corvette a trainer once told me, fast, fast, fast. This sounds cool except when you are trying to run a Half Marathon.

It took me 18 months but I did eventually get to the point that I could run 9 miles without actually dying and my husband and trainer declared me ready to run my race. He lovingly helped me find a race that was mainly downhill, because by now he really did know what he was dealing with, and I was in no way a natural runner!

The race we found was in the Black Hills in early Oct. so we made our reservations and I started trying to wrap my head around the fact that I was really going to have to do this now.

The week before the race I came down with a major sinus infection.   Not sure if this sinus infection was a blessing (getting me out of this race) or a curse (making the race even harder) I just took it easy, drank lots of OJ and hoped for the best.

By Friday when he headed out of town the infection was working its way out of my sinuses and into my chest and Dan was starting to come down with it too.

The night before the race we decided we could do it, “just put on your big girl panties and do it” I said to myself as I settled in for the night. “Just do it”

The next morning I was actually excited as we got to the race and in line. The first 3 miles were hilly because you ran to the base of Crazy Horse Monument but then the next 10 miles were basically flat with a slight occasional downhill slope.

One of my biggest concerns was what if I had to go to the bathroom. Admittedly, I have a bladder the size of a pea. The thought of running for 2-3 hours without a pit stop sounded horrible. There was no way I could endure the pain of running and then add a full bladder to the mix. I started to panic. Dan had to reassure me that there would be port-a-potties on the route. OK.

Next concern. How am I going to run and carry enough Kleenex? I have a major sinus thing going on here. Again, Dan tried to help. “You blow your nose off to the side while you run. You just blow the snot out and keep going.” He coached.

“What! Are you Nuts!!”? I can’t do that. I will have snot all over me,” I argued. Finally, in a bid to keep me from a second anxiety attack that morning he agreed to carry the Kleenex for me. All I had to do was run. He would do the rest.

The gun went off, my stomach flipped, and we were off and running.

My goals were simple. First, I wanted to live through this. Second, I wanted to run the whole thing. In my mind if I was going to do this than I had to really do it. No run/walk thing allowed. Third, I did not want to throw up, that just seemed humiliating. Fourth, I wanted to pass someone. That was it. Rather strait forward and simple goals.

Still running


Dan soon made it clear how far he was willing to go to support me on this challenge.

He would run ahead of me, turn around and run backward so that he could take pictures of me. “Smile for the camera, Jackie you are on mile 1” he’d yell.

Next, he’d fall behind me so that he could get a picture at a different angle, then he’d be beside me talking about something just to keep my mind off the pain and misery I was experiencing. I was unable to run and talk so his job was to just keep yammering on about anything and everything to help me keep from thinking about how bad I wanted to stop.

After a bit he would pull out some Goo and have me eat it, or  he would remind me to drink when we passed the aid stations. Soon he was pulling out Kleenex so I could daintily blow and run! My heart was impressed by his support.

All was well until mile 9. I actually kind of enjoyed myself up until then. It felt empowering to know that I was running a race, even passing a few people on the way! Maybe he was right, all I had to do was actually train and my body could adjust to the new demands I was putting on it. Ya! Well, not so fast girl.

What was I thinking?


About mile 9 I was suddenly overcome with a wave of nausea, panic started again.

Thoughts like “Oh God, I am going to hurl. This is awful. Why am I doing this? No one in his or her right mind would attempt this at my age” raced through my mind.

Dan quickly figured out what was going on and tried to counter these thoughts with positive feedback and other motivational things. It did not work. Soon, knowing he was about to deal with a mutiny he pulled out the big guns.

“Oh come on. You can do this. You only have a little farther to go. You have done things much more difficult than this, for God’s sake you delivered three babies you can’t stop now.”

That did it. He knew it would.

“Damn, he’s right. I have delivered three babies, and that was waaaaayyyyy more difficult. There is no way I am stopping now.” I muttered to myself.

Filled with a new wave of determination I drove on, somehow managing to cover the last few miles.

Just as we were about to cross the finish line he dashed ahead of me so he could record my big moment on camera, but before he disappeared he yelled at me to smile—”this is it you did it!”

“Ya right, I did it ,but where is the nearest garbage can because I am going to hurl” was all I could think about.

There was no way I was going to get sick in front of all these people! The picture is pretty funny because I look awful, but I DID IT! I ran a Half Marathon, I passed people, I ran the whole thing AND I did not throw up!

What Dan did for me was priceless, he worked so hard trying to make sure I had all the support I needed because he loves me and he understood that this for me was a Monumental Challenge. Thanks honey.

Where's the garbage can?


So my friend, what’s next on your list?

Monumental Challenge - Thanks honey

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter