running, walking on trail
Shayna Pearl-Bennish writes about her experience training so she can donate to charity by running a marathon.
By Shayna Pearl-Bennish

A few months ago, I got a call from my friend Rachel. “I saw that Detroit Chesed Project is looking for volunteers to help raise money for this charity by running in a marathon. Let’s do it,” Rachel said with excitement.

All I could think of was how incredibly awful my running experiences had been in the past. I mean, running after toddlers is exhausting enough … running a marathon?

However, my weak spot is charity. This particular charity is close to my heart because in the past it has helped me get through a rough time.

“Well, how far do you have to run?” I asked with caution.

Rachel assured me that 5K wasn’t really that far and that we could probably even walk for part of the time. In addition, it would be something fun to do with a friend. As we talked about getting matching hats and shoes, the idea became more appealing. Rachel had just had her eighth baby, and I had recently lost 50 pounds. OK, a marathon seemed doable.

Armed with water bottles (runners carry water bottles, right?) and an optimistic attitude, we went to the informational meeting later that night. You could imagine our surprise when the leaders of Team TAV (It Takes A Village, a project of Detroit Chesed Project) presented the information about the Detroit Free Press Marathon. The two options available included a half-marathon at 13.1 miles or a full marathon at 26.2 miles.

Um, what? 13.1 miles was the minimum? Oh, no.

If it hadn’t been for my absolute fear of embarrassment I would have gotten up and walked out right then. I mean, me, a middle-aged woman with no running experience or desire to run who still has quite a bit of baby weight (and donut weight, too) to lose run a marathon?

I was clearly the least in-shape person in the room (or at least that is how it felt). But I took the informational packet and went home and signed up in a daze. I connected with the “real” runners and they told me what shoes to buy, which app to use and how to get started.

Wow, was this really happening? I slowly (OK, OK, very slowly) began the training with walking-jogging intervals a few times a week. Today, as I continue to train for the Detroit Free Press Marathon in October I am grateful that my embarrassment of walking out helped me to commit myself to doing something new and outside of my box — and surely outside my comfort level. It is a great feeling knowing that you can achieve something you didn’t think was achievable when you put in the hard work.

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While I don’t think I will ever be a “real” runner, and I definitely won’t be giving up my love for donuts any time soon, I am enjoying my weekly runs and the clear brain I feel when I’m in the zone. But, more than that, I am proud that I can help raise money and awareness for a local charity that is more than worthy of my support.

A little embarrassment can go a long way in the right direction, when given the chance.

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