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Beginner’s Luck: Racing for a Bigger Goal

"Beginner's Luck" columnist Meredith Atwood writes about her most recent race commitment.

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“Beginner’s Luck” columnist Meredith Atwood writes about her most recent race commitment—and why she’s taking the leap out of her comfort zone.

I was sitting on the porch this morning looking out on the ocean: family vacation. Sort of a Chevy Chase vacation, really. We arrived at the beach late yesterday, and the kids were like, “Yay ocean!” and thundered into the water. Literally two minutes later, “Owwwwww!” and the odds of two kids being stung by jellyfish in two minutes? I don’t know how, but we made it happen. This morning, we woke up and it was pouring rain and thundering. The family was bummed, but I was thinking, “Oh my sore body is a little glad that I can sit and relax for a day.”

I don’t do “relax” and “vacation” very well. Much like I don’t do “I’m going to take this season off from racing” very well. I was stuck this season figuring out what I wanted in the world of triathlon. I vacillated between doing a 70.3, to almost compulsively registering for Ironman Florida. Deep down, I didn’t know whether to do any races, running or tri, at all this season.

Then when I was approached by Brent Pease about being a “pusher” for the Marine Corps Marathon—where I would run, and push another individual in a race chair so they get to experience the joy of being in a race, being an athlete. This is a goal of The Kyle Pease Foundation—inclusion for those with disabilities in sport.

I thought, “No, I can’t do that.”

But then I thought, “What if I can? This wouldn’t be about me. But… wow, can I actually do that?”

Lots of questions, I know. Lots of doubt. I have, in the past, hesitated about racing for others or for a charity—and not for the reasons you might think. I don’t mind fundraising in the slightest. I don’t have an aversion to team efforts. I just have always had the fear that I would let others down. When I am racing for myself, I am able to bail or quit or get injured to my heart’s content and not worry about it. When a team of people are depending on me, then that’s a whole new level of responsibility.

[Turns out that I am scared of responsibility when it comes to racing. Meredith Triathlon Fear #3212.]

So fast forward to seven weeks ago, when Brent emailed me and asked if I would be the pusher for a special young man, Logan, in the amazing marathon in Washington, D.C.

Actually, he wrote something like, “We are looking for a push volunteer for Marine Corps. Know anyone?”

[Real smooth, let me tell you.]

But, I give Brent credit because it totally worked. His email was just a lightbulb moment for me. I called my mom, and she said, “You should do this.” Usually Mom is the one telling me to stop doing all the things, so I knew that it was the right call.

So right now I am in the middle of this marathon training, which interestingly (as I have been warned) feels almost a little harder than Ironman training. #SoMuchRunning. I am proud of the recent blocks of long runs—more cumulative distance than I have ever done in training. I am an adult-onset runner, and running, well, is hard for an adult-onset runner.

I feel a great sense of purpose doing the run for a charity, yes. I know this is not late-breaking news and many people do it all the time. But I am grateful to have this opportunity to take part in this event and for a cause. And because I will be pushing someone else, I feel a greater responsibility to the race, to commitment I made to Logan. I want to make sure that he gets to experience Marine Corps in all of its glory—all the way to the finish.

[Lucky for Logan, it will be the nice, scenic and slow route. He’s get every minute out of the course and the race with me as his buddy.] But, knowing that someone else is truly depending on me, I can “relax” knowing I have a bigger reason to make those long training runs happen.

Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is tackling the Marine Corps Marathon in October, raising money for the Kyle Pease Foundation with her new buddy, Logan. Meredith is the host of the new podcast, “The Same 24 Hours,” a show which interviews interesting people who make the best of the 24 hours in each day. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children, and writes about all things at MeredithAtwood.com.  

To learn more about the Kyle Pease Foundation, go here. You can learn more about Brent and Kyle Pease here, as well as their entire Boulder recap on The Same 24 Hours Podcast. #TogetherWeWheel