Running for a REASON - Melanie Conley

Melanie Conley _ marathon blog 4 years ago when I started running, I never, fathomed that this would be part of my journey. It was all I could do to run 1 mile -- I couldn't even think about running 26.2. However, with persistence, dedication, keeping my attitude and thoughts in check and with God's grace -- I was able to make it happen. But what is even more important to me was somehow giving back. I wanted to make this journey bigger than me and so I decided to set a goal to raise funds for Refuge for Women. Having to defer last year's marathon dreams to this year due to injury and almost suffering the same fate this year, getting to the starting line was a miracle in and of itself. I was a complete and total nervous wreak for the 2 weeks leading up to the race and a weather stalker for the 4 days prior to race day-- the threat of running in the high winds (13+mph), rain, and freezing cold temps were weighing heavily on my mind. I knew I'd have just enough mental strength to get through the race on a nice day, wasn't sure about a crappy weather day. Went to bed instead of watching the baseball game (Red Sox/Tigers) but really, just tossed and turned all night. The rain was pounding down, the wind was blowing, the thunder rolled and my nerves were on edge. Got up around 5am to eat and prepare. Part of my preparation was to write down my motivational statements/ names on my arm so that I could have something physical to look at when negative thoughts crossed my mind. Included on my arm were, "Boston Strong," and "Refuge for Women." Being mentally aware of the hardships that the women @ the Refuge have endured helped me to focus on the task at hand - That I was running for these amazing individuals. It turned out to be PICTURE PERFECT RUNNING WEATHER! I mean, you couldn't ask for anything better. No wind, no rain, no humidity, no heat, partly cloudy, sun peaking through occasionally, 45ish degrees to start with a high of maybe 55 at finish. God is good! It was suppose to rain until 10am! I knew my capabilities going into the race -- I knew I could beat 6 hours, based on my 20 mile training run of 4:11 -- I thought 5:30 would be about the time I would come in. My "this would be awesome" time was a sub 5. My wonderful running partner and friend, and I decided we would stay behind the sub 5 pace group and start out slow. I felt like I could walk faster than I was running and felt awesome for the first 8-10 miles. After that, I don't know why, but my "wall" came. I was a pretty miserable runner from miles 10-14. REALLY wanted to quit. Couldn't even wrap my head around only being half done. However, at mile 14.5 I saw Chris and the boys, and my step father in law and his girlfriend. I am amazed of how just seeing them could lift my spirits. I was able to get my head straight again. It was a gorgeous race. The trees were so colorful, the reflection of the calm lake, the paths that were like running through tunnels of leaves...just speechless beauty. Seeing 2 men on stilts (yes, that is right, stilts) walking the whole course, seeing Team Triumph (runners that push developmentally disabled people in their strollers for the whole course) was quite inspiring and very emotional. Especially when one of these individuals being pushed looked at us and told us we were doing a good job! *tears* If I recall, miles 14.5-21.5 were hard, but I think I did pretty well mentally and no walking too much. Miles 21-23/24 were super hard. I knew I was almost done and yet I wasn't almost done. 5 miles is still a long ways to go after running 21! Got to mile 25 and was told there would be no walking from here on out. Well..I did maybe a tiny tiny walk up a very mild hill (train tracks seemed like a mountain)..and ran the rest in. My boys even ran the last .2 miles with me...although I ran as hard as I could at that point. And then, finally, I crossed that beloved finish line. I had completed a marathon. My training had worked, prayers had been answered, and even more importantly, God was able to use my fundraiser to raise more money than I had anticipated. What a blessing. My friends, family, running friends, and strangers were able to raise $2075 for Refuge for Woman. That's $75 over my goal. So Amazing. So Generous. So Blessed. Will I do another marathon? Not any time soon. I think I'll do some speed work and start attempting to PR my 1/2 marathon time. Thank you Lord, for giving me this body with two working legs, a strong heart, working lungs and my health so I could have the ability to do this. There are so many who can't. 26.27 miles in 5:10:12 -- not too shabby for this turtle

Written by:  Melanie Conley (Marathon Runner and Supporter of Refuge for Women)

November 2013