By Cheryl Ryan
I watched the movie Brittany Runs a Marathon several months back and it was really good. It’s a funny, heartwarming romantic comedy. Honestly, nothing like a good romantic comedy to get my TV smile on. That’s why I was surprised when I started to cry at the end. It was weird because it’s in no way a sad movie. It really is good. So it took me a bit to figure out what the heck was happening.
I think I was coming to terms with the fact that it’s highly unlikely that I will ever be able to run a marathon again. It wasn’t like running a marathon was a super fun thing for me. It’s honestly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But the fact that it’s not an option now is what I’m really mourning.
During the past couple of years, I’ve had some health setbacks. First, my left knee had a meniscus tear at the root. I had surgery and was assured that I would be back running again in 6 months but the surgery didn’t go as planned. Then my right hip started to hurt and I found out, after many doctor visits, that I had to have surgery for that – it was probably the real reason my knee went. So I have a bad knee on one side and a bad hip on the other. Not good for running .2 miles much less 26.2.
But the point of the movie isn’t about the marathon at all. It’s about Brittany’s efforts to push herself beyond her own expectations. I cried when I crossed the finish line of both marathons (it may sound like I cry a lot but I really don’t). It was so overwhelming. I took the goal on as a personal challenge but what I didn’t realize was that it would teach me that I am capable of more than I ever thought possible.
As I age I’m having to come to terms with increased limitations. I wasn’t super athletic when I was young so I really appreciated what my body was letting me do and I knew that one day it wouldn’t let me. And yet, I’m not sure we’re ever really ready for the changes that inevitably come. I didn’t realize how much of my life had become wrapped up in training and planning races.
I know there are so many people that have had far greater limitations and setbacks thrust upon them during their lives. And they’ve had to find unimaginable resilience and courage just to put one foot in front of the other.
I guess that is where the term ‘life is a marathon‘ comes from. Each of us is running our own. It’s a constant reinvention of those things we expect to happen next but don’t. For now, I’m riding my bike, golfing and hiking and am enjoying it all far more than I thought I would. But as I write this, I realize it’s such a mild adjustment compared to so many other things that could happen. Yet, when it first started it seemed impossible.
Is there anything that you were sure you couldn’t do but did?