April 11, 2013

Overcoming Disappointment

Many of my lovely readers have expressed an interest in reading about the final part of my marathon journey, and it was finally time to share it here. 

For new readers, the story goes a little something like this....

(+) Girl (that'd be me) dreams of running the New York City Marathon + gets accepted to run.
(+) Girl decides to create a unique way to honour handmade business (aka Handmade Marathon) as a part of her marathon journey.
(+) Girl trains really, really hard.  She runs a LOT.  She's ready.
(+) Girl makes it to New York, but the marathon is cancelled last-minute.

I previously wrote a post about THAT portion of my journey, but have subsequently removed the post, for personal reasons. Many of you read it, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind and wonderful words, and for cheering me through a disappointing time. 

At the end of that post, I wrote that I would be running my OWN marathon (42.2 kms/26.2 miles) in my hometown.  It wouldn't be official.  There wouldn't be tens of thousands of spectators along the route.  There would be heart and soul. 

I wanted to run and complete something that I had worked SO hard towards.  So I did. 

You know what? It was GREAT.  So beyond anything I could have hoped for.  I was SO proud of myself. but I'm getting ahead of the story...

There were some aspects of this run that were 10 times better than anything the world's largest marathon could have given me. I was surrounded by friends and family.  I overcame huge disappointment. Most importantly, I did it just for me. 

Let me tell you, it was a COLD and WINDY run. Good thing that some of my longest and hardest training runs were also windy (the benefits of living on an island in the North Atlantic ocean).  I started really early in the morning (as the sun was coming up). You can see that it was still dark outside as I was leaving home. 

Orange is my champion colour.

My husband, who is also a runner, planned my route. The route took me through 3 local towns and cities and I had asked him to run a little bit with me, so he came to the start.  To my surprise, 3 of our running friends also joined in at the "official" start line (we drew a line in a gravel parking lot with our sneakers).

Along the way, there were many more fabulous surprises.  Friends set up with water and bananas for me.  As some runners left, more friends and family members joined in (including my dad and my sister-in-law) - at one point, I had SEVEN friends and family members together at the same time, and as they left, still others joined. 

This meant that I had someone I knew running with me for the entire race.  It was so amazing, and totally unexpected.  I had expected to run the majority of the route by myself, with car support from my husband.  To have someone along to talk to (or listen to, for distraction) the entire time was such a wonderful benefit of running my OWN marathon. 

Then, along the way.  People I know (friends, family, other runners from our local running community) cheering, driving by with signs in their cars, taking photos.  Amazing.  It was a constant surprise, because I never knew when I would encounter one of these "cheer zones" or who would be there. 

I didn't worry too much about my time.  This was my FIRST marathon and I was trying to enjoy the experience. The "race" took me longer than a closed marathon course, because I had to stop at intersections and obey traffic laws like a regular pedestrian.  There were hills.  I stopped to take photos with people along the way.  We walked for several minutes through a crowded outdoor Remembrance Day ceremony to be respectful. 

I know you can't tell, but in this next photo I was SO tired.  It was almost the end and I could barely move my legs.  No, seriously. One foot in front of the other.  

Then the finish. More friends braving the wind and cold to clap and cheer at my unofficial finish line.  A huge accomplishment. 

So, at the finish.  I didn't get to run the race I had planned.  Life is filled with setbacks (and this was a particularly bitter one for me).  We all have choices.  I could have easily thrown my hands in the air and given up.  I could have let those hundreds of hours of training slide away. Easily.   I was tired of the whole experience.  I was frustrated.  I felt like it was really, really unfair.   Determination won and I'm glad that I opened myself to the experience. 

Things don't always turn out the way you plan, or expect, but that's all part of life's adventure, isn't it?

What are you opening your mind to this year?

xo Alison


  1. So happy you finished telling this story. I can't imagine the emotional rollercoaster this was, but I'm happy that you came out of it with a positive outlook. Congrats on running *your* marathon :)

  2. I am so proud of you Allison! For sharing this story, for not letting disappointment get in the way, for doing it JUST for you-and in the end you didn't do it alone, you had your community there cheering you along. I think this is more powerful then a success story-you defined your own success and then made it happen. This is magical and inspirational to me! I'm cheering you all the way to the finish line of your very own marathon darling! And your community is stupendously awesome, I'm happy to be a small part of it! HUGS!

  3. This story really made me cry - tears of happiness for you. What amazing family and friends you have to support you. Good for you for running a marathon! Congratulations!

  4. Tears in my eyes...what a great story!

  5. Congratulations!! Your personal marathon sounds so much more rewarding than a formal race. Well done!!