As I ran passed Mile 23, my moistened eyes emotionally grasped that this moment had finally arrived.
I was going to complete my first marathon.
All the training, early mornings, hours on the treadmill and runs around Laguna Creek and Folsom Lake will have amounted to this single moment in time. At the corner of my eye, I can see my husband, pounding the pavement alongside me, carrying a 20lb backpack, a large camera draped around his neck and a heavy jacket and sweater hung around his side. He wasn’t planning on running this, nor had he trained for this endeavor. When I passed him and smiled at Mile 16, he later told me he felt I needed a companion. So he started running and stayed with me nearly to the very end.
When I sprinted across the finish line, a wave of satisfaction was felt throughout the crowd of runners. For hours we ran across bridges, through different districts and up hills. I wasn’t expecting those hills, or the early rain, or even my husband’s companionship. I didn’t know what to expect – and like childbirth, I knew there was an ending, I knew I would eventually get there despite how long it would take.
This was a true test of endurance, a feat that less than 1% of people accomplish in their lifetime.
Ironically I would see another endurance test play out on National TV days later. I re-lived feeling frustrated by my team’s performance, irritated by our disconnection and annoyed by how my ‘character’ was developed and edited in the last several episodes. When I failed the endurance test, rang out and went home, inside I was happy. Happy to be off TV. Happy to own my identity again. Happy to move forward and one day learn the lessons this experience gave me.
I was happy. But I wasn’t happy.
I wasn’t happy because I allowed an outside source dictate how I felt. Forces out of my control was directing my thoughts and influencing my actions. I found myself defending negative criticism, regretting my involvement and even resenting a few cast mates. Intuitively I knew stress and sadness strains the human body and I could feel it weighing on me.
So I decided to Let Go and Let God.
Regardless of what was filmed, edited and produced to be forever imprinted in TV history, I remember an incredible group of strong-willed, friendly and amazing human beings. I remember laughingly sitting in a waiting room playing a homemade Pictionary game as Chris slept on the ground, pounding a button a thousand times during a luke-warm shower, playing card games with David, and sharing stories while overlooking Mt. Rainer. I will remember my adrenaline every time the horn sounded, the hustle, the second-by-second pace, and the voice of our cadre, Nicholas Irving, calmly directing us during a challenge.
I will remember John Cena’s superheroic presence, KJoy limping to her bedside before reading a book until after midnight, Jim’s Boston accent across a dark room and Cameron asking me for relationship and life advice – something he still does via text. I will remember distinct images in my head, like Mark’s nonchalant goofiness, Ivette sharing make-up tips, Goldie making constant requests for white bread and watching Brooke faint, that was heartbreaking. I won’t forget listening to Tony’s crazy stories while waiting in the van, dreaming about nonprofits with Mario, stretching out with Clare, talking about step-families with Haze and crying to Machine and praying with Lisa when I was injured and missing my kids.
I refuse to forget the good times. The times that made the experience truly worth it. I refuse to allow judgement impair what I know in my heart really happened on a snowy hillside in the winter of 2015.
Like the fleeting moments of my first marathon and my experience filming American Grit, I won’t remember the pain in my legs or the negative feedback.
I will remember enduring…
…enduring past the discomfort, past the slips, the falls, the regrets and the ignorant comments.
While one can choose to be angry or bitter – I choose forgiveness. I choose to remember the good times.
Running the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 1st.