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This Place Two Years Ago

January 4, 2010

In this place, two years ago, is where I decided to run marathons. Standing knee deep in this water, I was chatting with a man from Connecticut in front of the water slide. He was adoring his 4-year-old daughter’s perfect freestyle strokes; I was offering a lame defense of my son’s inability to swim.

“We’re from Chicago, we don’t see a lot of sun. How did she learn to swim?” I framed my envy as questions to appear more curious than insecure.

“I compete in triathlons,” he explained, “I take her swimming a couple times a week.”

“Triathlons. That’s hard, no?” Now I was curious.

He modestly pointed out that he hadn’t done an Ironman, only regular triathlons. He detected that I was clueless about the distinction. To me, I was standing in the presence of The Iron Man of Hawaii Himself.

“You swim a mile, bike 25 miles, then run a 10K,” he said, smiling.

“That’s doable I guess.”

I regained my competitiveness and added:

“I run a few times a week but never ran a race before.”

Then is when he dropped the bomb:

“You should run a marathon.”

I was speechless, so he kept talking:

“Everybody needs a challenge,” he said.

In this lobby, two years ago, is where I had a bloody martini and frantically googled ‘chicago AND marathon’. I discovered that my weekly mileage was not ideal for starting marathon training, and that I would have to get to the finish line in less than six and a half hours. I also started developing an allergy to running coaches. I wanted to run marathons, but joining a support group? Making new friendships? That seemed painful. Then I thought about my son and little Miss Connecticut, how they became BFFs in less than four minutes, how moments later, they were planning an afternoon playdate or a wedding. I reconsidered. I decided the man was right — I should run a marathon.

Something about standing in this water makes you want to achieve. Two year later, my son can now swim the whole length of the pool underwater. And I am working on a trend.

Art: Moon, by David Alvira, available under Attribution-Noncommercial license

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