My Start Line
I grew up an athlete. From Little League baseball, to high school football and wrestling, I excelled. Running, however, was not something I did or enjoyed. In fact, running, was a form of punishment for the sports I played growing up. My 20s certainly weren’t reflective of my childhood athletic achievements, either. Landing my first “real” job, getting married, welcoming our first child… Life took on a new set of priorities and sports or personal fitness weren’t even on my radar. After the birth of my first daughter, I was the heaviest I had ever been, I had numerous back problems and was content in my new sedentary lifestyle.
Two years later, a few months after the birth of our second child, our first born was off to preschool. Her teacher, Tracy Darmofal, was training to run the NYC Marathon. Each day at pick up and drop off, my wife would get updates on how her training was going and became intrigued. Apparently, “running a marathon” was on my wife’s bucket list and when Tracy came back to school the day after the marathon and described her experience, she decided now was the time she’d cross this item off the list.
That night during dinner, she blurted out words I never imagined I’d hear my wife say:
“I’m going to run the NYC Marathon next year!”
Let me start by saying, my wife, from an athletic standpoint, was polar opposite of me. She played ZERO sports growing up. She didn’t even enjoy casually working out. Not to mention, she had just given birth to our second child a few months prior. So, my response to this announcement, may not have been the most supportive. My response, and I cringe now thinking about it, was “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. You don’t even run.” I know, I know. RUDE! But even she will tell you, she couldn’t run a mile to save her life at that point. So the idea of her running a marathon… I just couldn’t comprehend.
But, she’s a woman of her word. And if she says she’s running a marathon, come hell or high water, she’ll run a marathon. A few weeks later, she began training. She went from not being able to jog a quarter mile, to running a 5K in 2 weeks. I was pretty impressed. Particularly so, because she did it all on her own. Unlike me, or other friends who now run, she had no example. No one to ask questions to. And certainly no one to help her with a training program.
It wasn’t easy for her. And yet, she did it anyhow. I think that is what first sparked some interest in me. Here she was, working from home, with a 2 year old and new baby, battling post pardum depression, and yet, still staying focused on that goal.
I have to admit, going to her first 10K and half marathon was very inspiring. This whole running as a sport thing was new to me. But, I started to think I may have been missing out. And these races were by no means easy for her. After both races, she questioned whether she’d actually be able to finish the marathon. Yet, she pressed on. It definitely sparked a fire in me.
I guess you can say that spark became a full on inferno the day of her marathon. Being at the NYC Marathon, even as a spectator, is life changing. You witness the very best of the human spirit. You are beyond inspired. You really do leave there thinking anything is possible. Seeing her run past us, with a smile on her face, was incredible. And for a first timer, without any help with training, she did pretty damn good! She finished her first marathon (on a sprained foot) in 4 hours 25 minutes! I was so proud of her! And needless to say, left there knowing we’d be back next year. Yep, THAT was my starting line.
I’ll never live it down. Whenever someone asks why I started running, I’m reminded of the fact that I thought running a marathon was the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. But I’m forever grateful our paths crossed with Tracy and that my wife decided to cross this item off her bucket list. It changed our lives! And we haven’t stopped running since!