A few hours from now, my little sister will set off on her first full marathon - from Marathon, to Athens, Greece.
She's always been a runner, and has run a few half-marathons in the last few years; but she had made herself a promise years ago that she'd run a full one before she turned 40 (she even has a couple of years to spare!).
I always knew running a full marathon was an enormous accomplishment, but until following her training (as a listening ear, of course, not actually doing it!), I never fully appreciated what tremendous commitment is required over a long period of time, to build the physical and emotional stamina required to do it -- even for someone who was in excellent condition before starting to train.
Over the last two weeks, I've had my moments of weakness, when I've thought about doing the same thing I've done hundreds of times in the last 7 years: give up, eat some crap, skip the bike. But each time, I've thought about what my sister has had to do, and to give up, to get where she is right now: on the verge, literally, of living out a life-long dream.
It's been an enormous sacrifice, and it's also given her a tremendous sense of personal satisfaction and accomplishment.
And to me, it's an inspiration to keep going. My road over the next year is so far, far, far easier to travel than the one she will in the wee hours of tomorrow morning, halfway around the world.
I wish I could be there for her tomorrow, when she crosses the finish line; but since I can't, I'll be here, in this very chair, watching for her bib number to cross on the race website. You can be sure I'll be bawling my eyes out with pride (and with relief for her poor feet!).
My finish line is far further in the future, but I have a feeling her inspiration will run alongside me every step of the way.
So to baby sister: run like the wind! And thanks. : )