Thursday, December 23, 2010

The 2011 “Moving Forward Mary-thon”

"I've learned that finishing a marathon isn't just an athletic achievement. It's a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible."  John Hanc

Back in December 2009, while recovering from foot surgery I was contemplating my “theme” for the new year.  (I refuse to make "new year's resolutions" as they just don't work for me.)  After much deliberation and consultation with family, I decided my 2010 theme would be “Finish the Race and Finish Strong”.  In 2010 "Life's Rat Race" was the only race I anticipated running but I have always been intrigued by long distance running.  In fact, one of my life-long dreams was to run a half-marathon. For a variety of reasons, I never made the effort to transform that dream into a reality, however, the more I contemplated my 2010 theme, the more I thought that 2010 could be “my half-marathon year”!  I was at a bit of a disadvantage since I am not very athletic, I had never been on a sports team and I certainly had never run a race of any kind...ever.  With this in mind I didn't feel comfortable sharing my goal, simply because as a "card-carrying rule follower", I knew that if I told anyone – that would mean that I made a commitment and I would be obligated to follow through with it.  Thinking realistically, I just wasn’t sure I had the strength within my mind and body to do it.

But I did have a secret motivation – a yummy carrot dangling in front of my running cart.  What was it that motivated me?  What was my inspiration?  What would be the power that would carry me over the finish line?  THE FINISHER’S MEDAL.  I wanted to finish the race within the allotted time, I didn’t want to finish last, and most importantly I wanted to be awarded a finisher’s medal.  I wanted to be able to say “Yes, I finished the race, I finished strong - and here’s my medal to prove it!”  So, I made the commitment – I officially registered for the December 2010 Las Vegas Rock and Roll half-marathon and then told everyone that I planned to run it.  There was no turning back.

After enlisting my husband, two daughters and one son-in-law to join me (there’s strength in numbers) my year-long training began.  I knew I needed a plan so I went online and found a training schedule for beginners.  During each week of my training, I increased the distance of my long runs, and my confidence grew stronger with each added mile.  I had my set-backs (such as a major "trip and fall" during my 10 mile long run) – but as the date for the race got closer, I knew I was ready.  There were 28,000+ runners and although my family finished ahead of me (as well as thousands of other runners) as I crossed the finish line, I looked back to see several thousand runners were still behind me!  Woo Hoo!  I wasn’t last!  And the best part is that I got my medal and achieved a life-long dream!   I finished the race and I finished strong! The emotion that I felt as I stepped over the finish line was unlike anything I have ever felt.  It was a truly phenomenal experience.  I didn't want it to end - and I didn't want to lose what I had gained during 2010.  

So, I decided on my theme for 2011, based on a favorite quote of mine: 
“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”–Walt Disney

In addition, I tried to think of a way to keep me motivated while incorporating this theme into my life.  In order to help me to "keep moving forward", I would like to invite you to join me and participate in the “2011 Moving Forward Mary-thon”.  I know...the name's cheesy and a bit self-indulgent...but I wanted to distinguish it from a mara-thon!  :-)  A marathon is 26.2 miles long - however I’m not asking you to commit to run a marathon, or a half marathon or even a 5K (unless you want to...).  Since registration = commitment, when you officially register for the "Moving Forward Mary-thon" (i.e. send me an e-mail:, you agree to exercise at least 30 minutes a day for a minimum of 5 days a week for 26 consecutive weeks and your "Moving forward Mary-thon" must be completed in 2011.  Your exercise can be running, walking, biking, jogging, swimming, water aerobics, racquetball, spinning, weight lifting, elliptical training, or similar.  In other words, you must commit to at least 30 minutes of concentrated exercise, five days a week.  I will send you periodic messages of encouragement and you’re welcome to e-mail me when you need support.  This is the honor system – so it’s up to you to keep track of your progress honestly.   When you’ve completed 26 weeks of consecutive exercise as outlined, let me know and I will add your name to our blog 2011 Mary-thon Finishers!   In addition, I know how much the finisher's medal meant to me when I ran the half-marathon.  It doesn't seem like much, but it REALLY kept me focused and served as that carrot in front of my running cart during the more difficult times - or the times when I could feel apathy creeping in to my training!  So, I thought about what was missing from the 2011 Mary-thon challenge - and I concluded that it was a finisher's medal.  I did some research and found out that we could have a beautiful 2011 Mary-thon medal made for each person who finishes the 26 weeks as outlined!  The clincher is that we will need 100 people to finish the event (I have to order the medals in increments of 100.)   

What do you think?  Do you think we can enlist 100 people to join us?  Friends, relatives, neighbors...anyone who wants to either make some "healthy changes" in his or her life or continue with some already established "healthy habits".    

If you're on the fence - here are the benefits:
1.  You will have finished 26 weeks of exercise!
2.  You will tone muscles, increase your strength and lung capacity, and possibly even lose a couple of pounds (or more).
3.  You will complete a life-changing a goal!  
4.  You will receive a BEAUTIFUL FINISHER'S MEDAL!!!!  

Of course, even if we don't get 100 people to participate, the 2011 Mary-thon is still on - for anyone who signs up!  I'll try my best to be your motivational coach - and hopefully we will all finish the challenge!  I know the power of camaraderie and friendship.  I know what it means to have support from family and friends.  I know that words of encouragement DO help and consistency can promote success.  I also know that commitment, setting goals and following through are most important and that working together can give us the needed confidence to finish.  

When I was running the half-marathon, many runners wore shirts with inspirational messages on the back.  One, in particular struck a positive cord with me:  "FINISHERS = WINNERS".  I would like to encourage you to register for the 2011 Moving Forward Mary-thon and then complete the 26 week commitment!  

If you would like to follow our "Mary-thon blog" go to:


Good Luck and Happy Blanketmaking! 


After 13.1 miles, finally crossing the finish line!