How Running A Marathon For My Dead Dog Changed Me

It’s true.

Last month I ran the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in honor of my dead dog. Very dramatic, I know. But let me tell you something, those 13.1 miles changed me in a way I never thought possible. I swear every single stride made me realize my own strength…both physically and mentally.

Ran Like Forrest
I Ran Like Forrest…But Cuter

I can honestly say, that as I rounded that last mile, I never felt so alive. I heard lots of stories about why people run marathons. Motivational tales that make your heart break, your stomach ache and your jaw drop. For me, I felt I owed it to my dog, Nellie. To pay some sort of homage to her. I mean, she was there by my side for 16 years, just being awesome. So I snagged a spot on Team ASPCA and hit the pavement. Team ASPCA by the way, is the best group of people I’ve ever met. Not surprising, considering anyone who loves animals is obviously angelic in their own right.

The day of my race was, in fact, the best day of my life thus far. The energy, the emotion, seeing my parents at the finish line…my mother holding a cupcake for me…come on. Nothing could beat that.

And let’s be honest, making it to the finish line still in one piece and in a great time for a first-time participant didn’t hurt either. I can’t complain. Although during the week after the race my legs ached in a way I did not know was humanly possible…but still worth it.

And I remember prior to the race, so many people I talked to said to me, “I just can’t picture you running.”

Really? I’m still not sure why I got that response. Maybe it’s my affinity for stilettos…or my adoration for wearing dresses that gives off the impression that I’m not the kind of gal who likes to break a sweat. Well let me tell you something honey, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I mean, I was the goalie (and the only girl) on my soccer team, and don’t even get me started on my gymnastics and tap dancing skills. No, but really. I can tap dance.

P.S. I just ran 13.1 miles…what were you doing a few weekends ago? Recovering from another hangover?

My point is this, everyone who is breathing right now (and reading this) should 150% take part in some sort of half or full marathon before they kick the bucket. Do it in honor of someone. Do it for a good cause. Do it as a challenge. Do it for YOU.

Because looking back, I realize that all those people who doubted my ability to finish the race have never even TRIED to run one themselves. Sure it’s scary to take on something new, something that essentially wears out your body for a week or two…but it’s also exciting and fulfilling and it gives you a better sense of who you are as a person.

There is no better way to understanding who you truly are than to purposely push yourself into unfamiliar territory. I may be a girl, but I am certain now that I’m not all sugar and spice. There’s far more powerful of a whirlwind racing around inside of me just waiting to get out!

This race not only changed me in that it gave me a better sense of self, but it woke me up and served as a great reminder that every single day needs to be lived to the fullest….that we all need to live in a fearless way and stop limiting ourselves to the usual, to the common, to the dreaded routines.

Go! Do stuff. Stuff that seems impossible. Stuff that seems ridiculous. Go now. You won’t regret it.

In the meantime, I’ve asked my other dog Guccia Lauren to please stay alive for a while because even though my race was a success, it may be a bit before I’m ready for another one.

She has happily obliged.

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