Running and Yoga Instructor Jennifer De Marco recently ran her first half marathon after more than a year battling ovarian cancer and ongoing recovery. She shares her joys, gratitude, and challenges of her personal victory.
It’s exciting to have two of my life’s great loves melding together; The Ranch and running! Some thoughts from running the Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Half Marathon Carlsbad 2017:
- I kept thinking about what I was doing one year ago, just out of the hospital and feeling very debilitated. Running again was only a dream at that point, a dream of something that I “used to do.” At the start of the race, I found myself crying tears of joy, just to be there in the “mix” with the other runners. Everything was amazing; the Star Spangled Banner, the excited runners lining at the start, the announcers who are so good at stirring up excitement in the crowd, the uphill first mile.
- We are so fortunate to live in Southern California. What beauty surrounds us! We are so fortunate to work with other staff and guests in a place and with people who emphasize fitness and wellness in their lives. The Ranch gave me the resources and the support to train and participate in an event such as the Carlsbad Half Marathon. I kept thinking, “I have got NO problems! I am the luckiest person I know right now.”
- As the reality of the “long haul,” 13.1 miles, began to set in, I was reminded of exactly how much long-distance running has in common with the inner practices of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. On a personal level, the runner and practitioner must face his/her own inertia of laziness and boredom and embrace a willingness to be uncomfortable for a period of time. You will probably question the wisdom of your own goals. It is imperative to remain “in the moment,” and keep safe and healthy and meet the needs of THIS MOMENT, without thinking too much of how challenging the entire distance is going to be. With each mile of the race, the runner/practitioner can CHOOSE their perspective with regard to what it’s like to face mental and physical challenges. You can choose a positive, celebratory outlook, or you can feel defeated. We learn so much about ourselves and who we are in the face of challenge. The community of runners and spectators become a metaphor for the people who surround us in all parts of our lives; everyone is facing similar challenges, and we can’t know what OTHER challenges each person has overcome just to be there. Even though it is a race and competition, at the heart of it, everyone is really there to support each other. Sometimes people fall or have other serious challenges. Support and help are always there. Strangers come out of their homes to cheer and celebrate the collective effort. Just participating equals success, not ONLY coming in first. I felt a very specific sense of being a part of a collective experience it was not about ME.
- Crossing the finish line, a sense of pride and accomplishment washed over me. A distinct sense that I can do anything that I put my mind to with a little attention to preparation and following my own plan. I realized I can overcome any obstacle that comes my way. I had adjusted my expectations of myself, as a former race winner and age group winning competitor, and felt a real sense of satisfaction with my effort and performance. My family and friends are really here for me through the ups and downs. I also realized The Ranch, my place of employment, helps make these experiences possible for our guests in such a huge variety of ways and teachings. For me, this was an experience in “Running to Enlightenment”.
Jen De Marco
Strength, Yoga & Running Instructor
Coming next: The Eight Limbs of Yoga as they apply to distance running……