I Thought I Couldn’t

Ten years ago, a friend announced to a group of us that she wanted to walk the Portland Marathon. She wanted us to join her.

While I had started doing something about my years decades of relative inactivity, walking 26.2 miles seemed impossible for me. I dismissed it immediately. “I’ll support you however I can,” I said, “but, I can’t do it with you.”

I can’t do it.

I did support them. I didn’t complain (too loudly) when nights out were sacrificed for morning trainings. I made goofy little affirmation cards, one per mile, to make them laugh when they’d want to cry (and probably quit). During the marathon, I met them at the start, gave them their affirmation cards and cheered them on at six or seven different spots along the way, bringing different snacks and drinks.

Verklempt and inspired.

During that long day, I had the opportunity to see thousands of people running and walking their way through those long miles. My response surprised me. I became choked up, over and over again. And, not just when I saw my friends. I clapped for perfect strangers until my hands were bruised, I cheered until my voice was hoarse. All for these people who had the tenacity and perseverance to do something I, and most everyone else, thought was impossible.

It still didn’t seem like something I’d be able to do, much less want to do, but something inside me, a place of possibility perhaps, cracked open — just a bit — on the October day in 2004. It was something that would grow way beyond anything I could imagine at the time.

Fast forward, Boston Marathon 2014.

I’m still trying to put into words my latest experience at the Boston Marathon. I’ve talked a little bit about going from avowed non-runner to marathoner, but this last one, it was something else altogether.

For now, I’ll let this picture of me crossing the finish line at the 118th Boston Marathon speak for me.

Shannon Wilkinson crosses the finish line of the 118th Boston Marathon - April 21, 2014

If you’ve been itching to get moving (it doesn’t have to be marathons, or even running!) join me for Change Artistry: Get Active. It’s a group coaching program for people who want to get more active, and have fun while doing it. It’s not an exercise program, it’s different. No force. No guilt. No shame. Read more.

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