Written by Turquoise Fellow Flower, Kimberly Wilderspin, Cedarville, MI
I never imagined I would run a marathon. Then again, I never imagined I would get a divorce. In my case, the timing of these two events were synchronous with each other. I had started running 3 years ago (2012), running my first 5K with a group of co-workers—incredible women—I was instantly hooked.
Learning About Myself and Committing to 26.2
I didn’t venture too much out of my comfort zone that year, mainly sticking with 5K races. The following season, in 2013, I decided to branch out a little. I pushed myself a little further, learned about myself in the process of self-determination and inner strength. It was that year I accomplished my first 10K and first half marathon. Still, running a marathon seemed unattainable to me. How any one person could run 26.2 miles in a single trek was beyond me. That was until a friend of mine, a fellow runner, planted the seed in my mind of us running the Detroit Marathon in 2014.
Fear and doubt has a way of creeping in and keeping oneself from accomplishing goals. I pushed those emotions aside as I hopped online at 12:01 a.m. on January 1, officially registering for my first marathon. I knew as soon as I registered, I knew what color flower I would be proudly displaying in my hair that October day—Turquoise—Believe. In that moment, I truly believed in me.
Running an October marathon meant starting my training in June. That was the same time I found myself packing up boxes, moving from the comfort and safety net of my home into an apartment with my two boys. It didn’t take me long to figure out that my training would not go as planned. Sharing parenting time, with my boys, meant that on the weeks I had them, my training consisted of chasing them around the yard, going for short bike rides and playing basketball with them. On the off weeks when they were with their dad, I found myself really getting to know me again, as I pounded out my emotions on the pavement. It seemed as though my life was collapsing around me and I had certain expectations to fulfill with training and nothing was going my way. I experienced some dark days and came to the conclusion that I would simply need to bow out of the marathon.
Believing in Myself and Signs from Above
Who was I kidding? I thought, I can’t do this. I went into self-pity mode, feeling a surge of anger, blame, hurt and disappointment. A week later, my mom and I took my boys to Chicago for a mini family vacation. My mind had been made up about the marathon until our last day in Chicago.
I was standing outside of our hotel waiting for our car and struck up a nice chat with one of the employees. I commented how amazing the city was and he mentioned that running through the city was even more amazing. I looked up at him and said what do you mean? He told me that he runs the Chicago Marathon every year and what an incredible race it is, to be in a city that you love and to accomplish something so huge and meaningful. I felt a surge of excitement deep within my core, but sadly explained my dilemma to him. He looked forlorn as I described my disappointing training regime. He said, “May I ask you a question?” I said sure. He asked me, “Do you believe in yourself?” I felt the tears behind my eyes as I said, “Yes, I do.” He then said, “Then that is all that matters.”
I got a sign from above even though I wasn’t looking for one. I got in our car to make the trip home with a renewed sense of hope, excitement and most of all belief. There was no way I was going to bail – this was my journey and at that point I didn’t care if it took me the entire 6.5 hours to run it, I wasn’t quitting. I came home and started my training again. With a little more than two months away, I had a lot of work to do. With every mile that I logged, I felt a renewed sense of confidence, building something new and fresh, getting acquainted again with the woman I had left behind.
My last big race before the marathon was the Iron Mountain Half Marathon in September. I signed up for that race as I wanted a long run a month before Detroit. As I completed that race, I felt so confident and ready for Detroit. As I was leaving Iron Mountain, I had to take some side streets as the main ones were still closed for runners. I still had this amazing sense of pride and I stated out loud in my car, I am ready and excited for Detroit! I looked up and said, “What do you think God? Am I ready to run this marathon with passion, courage and belief?” As I came to a stop sign, I looked up to see where I was and there was my sign, quite literally, it was an intersection of Detroit Street and Kimberly Avenue.
I was in awe. There was my sign, clear as ever, that I was destined to do this. Finally, the big day arrived. I signed up with a pace team the night before at the expo to keep me paced and steady. My longest training run never broke over 14 miles. Nervous, but excited, I kept the thought of believing in myself. As our pace team waited in the starting corral, the butterflies in my tummy were growing immensely. Then, we were off. I was running the Detroit Marathon! The miles flew by. I was feeling great.
- Mile 7 in the tunnel with a huge smile on my face.
- Mile 14, running by a live band and feeling good.
- Mile 18 and I thought, Oh wow, I am feeling good. What is this “wall” everyone talks about?
And then, the wall hit me at mile 20—it was staring me in the face.
Crushing the “Wall”
My pace team was pulling further and further away from me, and I knew there was no way I was going to catch up. I was on my own, rather fitting for me knowing that I had started this process with my spouse and ending this chapter on my own. The next two miles I had to walk and feeling disappointed in doing so. I came around the bend on Belle Isle and saw a photographer and thought, No way am I going to have a picture taken of me walking, so pull yourself together Kimberly, and pick up those feet and smile. And so I gave the photographer a big thumbs-up and continued on my way. As I approached W. Lafayette and saw the finish chute, I could feel the tears rise in my throat and felt every emotion of sheer pride, exhilaration, joy, gratitude and belief surge through me and around me.
I held my hands above my head in honor and in celebration of me. I had done it! I just crushed my goal of running 26.2 miles, all in 5:30:07. I crossed that finish line and wept out of complete and absolute belief that I could do this all on my own.
I am honored to share my story, my photo and my personal tribute through a video I created following the Detroit Marathon. This is my Marathon Moment. Enjoy! Click here for video. Blessings to all in 2015.