Testing my Endurance

May 11, 2016

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.

Thankful for Amber Gonzales, our Field Coordinator and was our lifeline to the real world.

nick irving
Nick Irving, my cadre, was humble and hilarious.

team nick
We loved, fought and forgave like family.

Running the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 1st.

The Marine in him came out. I love you hunny.

So thankful for our No Excuse Mom leaders, Kate, Erica and Barbie for supporting me!


  • Reply Rachel @ Betty LIVIN May 11, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Congrats on finishing a marathon! It’s a feat that I don’t think I’ll ever achieve. As you said, only 1% of people can claim that type of grit. The show sounds really interesting! When does it air and on what network?

    • Reply Maria Kang May 11, 2016 at 3:59 pm

      It is already out on Fox, every Thursday at 9pm.

  • Reply Pam May 11, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    Unfortunately, the show is not interesting at all. It appeared scripted. It appeared as if certain contestants were to be the good guy, and some the bad guy and some were made to look like crybabies. Many of the challenges were kind of silly and also looked like it was set up to showcase some contestants, while other challenges seemed downright dangerous.

    If Maria is getting backlash, then people weren’t paying attention to how she and other contestants were portrayed.

    I hope they are local “No excuse Moms” in the photo cheering you on at the marathon. I didn’t know you were in town. I’m from the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh.

    • Reply Maria Kang May 11, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      I don’t think it was scripted but it was definitely edited to maybe appear that way.

      Thanks Pam! I REALLY love Pittsburgh. My husband has spoken multiple times about moving there after visiting your beautiful city.

  • Reply Erin May 11, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Thank you for continuing to inspire me! My sister suggested I follow you 3 years ago when your what’s your excuse photo went viral. I was at the beginning of a weight loss journey that has had some bumps but every time I see your posts it fuels me to not only take care of myself but about the example I set for my children so thank you! Congrats on the marathon! An amazing accomplishment!

    • Reply Maria Kang May 11, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      Thank you Erin! I appreciate you taking the time out to comment!

  • Reply Lisa Traugott May 11, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    Hi Maria,
    Congrats on your marathon! I’m glad we met on American Grit. I’m actually talking with the local NEM group in Austin about working out with y’all next month.
    Lisa 🙂

  • Reply Touchdown Tony May 11, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    Maria, first I want to congrats on the Marathon. I know it was a great feeling of accomplishment. You are family and we love you and I know the person and if the world does not know then you know what they can do. You are an amazing woman and I am glad to know you and call you FAMILY!! Miss you young lady. Semper fi to that bad ass Marine hubby of yours.

  • Reply Jim Vaglica May 12, 2016 at 2:13 am

    I know you had a tough time adjusting to our crazy life at base camp and I’m sure arguing with me didn’t help. I know the negative social media comments would get to me so I’m really proud of the way you’ve handled yourself since the show aired. Just keep being Maria.

  • Reply Jambes Marks May 21, 2016 at 4:34 am

    Congratulations on completing the marathon. As far as the TV show goes, I don’t watch TV. Too many shows like “American Grit” using and abusing people for their own ends.

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