Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Bethany Helwig
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Throw down the gauntlet

From the Editor


October 10, 2019

Everyone has at least one seemingly impossible challenge on their bucket list or “eventual goals” list. You know the one I’m talking about. The one you daydream about, that you’d certainly achieve if you didn’t have your current job or situation, that would just make your life amazing or complete. When you’re a kid, it could be something like become a star athlete, go to the moon, or turn into a dragon. After we’ve wizened up, our goals (usually) normalize to things like travel to Europe, own a business, learn a new language, write a book (I’m happy to say I can check that one off), or turn into a dragon (I’m not letting it go).

One goal I’ve always had in mind since I was a little girl was “run a marathon.”

Since before I was a little girl who could barely tie her shoelaces, I’ve been watching my dad run marathons. Grandma’s Marathon and the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon were and still are annual expeditions. As a small child, it was both exciting and annoying to wake up before the crack of dawn to pile into the van and drive out to a marathon. We’d drop my dad off at the designated area for runners and then my mom would drive us (me and my four sisters) to a predetermined meeting point on the race course. We’d make a couple stops along the route to cheer Dad on and acted like a pit crew, handing off grapes and his tried and true running fuel (it’s Dr. Pepper if you’re curious).

Bless my mother—I still don’t know how she managed to keep all of us wrangled during those stressful marathon days. If you’ve never been to a marathon, imagine the congestion and crowds of the state fair strung along various roads, usually with construction and bad drivers. That’s sort of what it’s like. And my mother toted 5 kids around (at one point all under the age of 7), in and out of a vehicle over half the day, starting before 5 in the morning. My mother’s a true miracle worker.

The two marathons in Duluth and Twin Cities aren’t the only ones we’ve gone to. Dad did the 100th running of the Boston Marathon. We huddled under umbrellas in a non-stop downpour during the Marine Corps Marathon. My sisters and I have a lot of memories from over the years, like “twinkle toes” who ran barefoot, seeing a runner collapse on the course and a spectator going Hulk to smash through a barricade to get to them, and a guy who ran backwards.

Each year, the five of us daughters got a little older (weird how that happens). Soon some of us got married, moved away, had kids, etc., and the marathon pit crew started to shrink down. Now, sometimes it’ll just be my mom out on the race course. But despite life changes, we all want to know how Dad’s doing and have a group text with updates for those not able to make it.

The point is, I’ve grown up with my dad being this great, amazing hero who runs 26.2 MILES in one go. It was the coolest thing as a little kid and, to be honest, I liked to brag about it. I even dressed up as a marathon runner for Halloween one year and used one of his race number bibs as part of my costume. Even back then I’d think to myself, I want to be that cool. I want to run a marathon too. I used to run like a little maniac on the playground. Then life kicked in. I discovered the fun of very bad seasonal allergies and the joy of asthma (I’m being extremely sarcastic in case that’s not clear). I did sports for a while but eventually faded out of basketball and volleyball.

It wasn’t until my adult years that the goal of running a marathon came back to me. I mean, it was always on my mind but one of those “I’ll do it later if I ever get in shape” sort of things. When I finally did commit to training, I ran into problem after problem for years. Doing 26.2 miles always felt so far out of reach that the possibility was on another planet.

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty details, but it was rough. I was always chasing after my dad but never able to close the distance on my goal. I signed up for the Garry Bjorkland Half Marathon last year as a way to try to motivate myself, but I did so poorly with training that I didn’t even attempt the race.

But this year, things have finally begun to change. I’ve been more active and fit than I have been for a very long time. It’s taken a lot of work and lifestyle changes, but for once, I feel like I’m actually on track.

I’ve thrown down the gauntlet and challenged myself. I signed up for the half marathon again which will take place in June next year. I’m not backing down this time. It’s time to commit. Doing the half marathon is the first step to my end goal—completing a full marathon.

So, now I’m passing the challenge onto you, readers. What impossible goal has been lingering on the horizon for you? Is it really as impossible as you think it is? It’s time to throw down the gauntlet. Challenge yourself to go beyond.


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