Some of you may know that my husband is in the military. He was deployed for 10 months a couple years ago, and I wrote this at that time.
I’ve decided being the spouse of a deployed soldier is like the military throwing you on a treadmill and telling you to run a marathon. The pace is predetermined based on your current life situation. I have 4 kids under age 10, live in a foreign country, 3 of those kids are a in foreign-speaking school and the other is a busy toddler who is at home all day. I have no family living on the same continent, and our base is very small and lacking resources. The few military families here live very spread out, so I have no one near me to help out at a moment’s notice. Needless to say, my pace is set pretty high. Luckily, I had that strange drive to force us all to learn Italian, so our circle of friends has expanded greatly, and that eases up my pace slightly. I’m also pretty independent and have lived in other foreign countries, so that helps.
Unfortunately, I haven’t done any marathon training. I’ve run some 5k’s and 10k’s in the past (we’ve been apart for 4-6 weeks numerous times for trainings and in between big overseas moves), but that doesn’t even come close to preparing someone for running a marathon. Even residency was more like interval training: lots of sprint/walk/sprint/walk. But even then, I was able to get off the treadmill at least every few miles and rest.
The first few miles (weeks) of the marathon were painful. Just the idea that you’re going to be there for a full 26.2 miles is enough to make you want to collapse before you even get through the first mile. But like most things, once you push through the pain, your muscles kind of get into a rhythm, and you just run. It’s more of a mental challenge than a physical one.
Sometimes a friend comes along and slows the pace for you (bringing a meal; or offering to watch the kids, so you can grocery shop alone; or helping with yard work). But 90% of the race is kept at that same fast pace.
Oh, and this whole time you’re running the marathon, your spouse is in danger, so now imagine having baseballs being thrown at you occasionally, and you have to dodge them or get knocked off the treadmill… But keep smiling because you don’t want your kids to see the baseballs!
But other than that, you just keep running. And dodging baseballs. You’re trying your best to enjoy the scenery and love to hear people cheering you on from the sidelines. You are getting stronger each mile.
You know the percentage of people who actually run this marathon is small, so you find a deep sense of camaraderie with the other runners. It is not a competition. There is no medal at the end. Just a sense of pride in running this particular marathon. Each step you take is a small sacrifice and a service to people in your own country and in other countries around the world. And that makes you proud.
Please ask for permission to reprint this in its entirety.