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The Most Important Mile of My Life: Elizabeth Boyle

Elizabeth crossing the tape of her 40-mile, 40th birthday celebration run.
Elizabeth crossing the tape of her 40-mile, 40th birthday celebration run.

A year ago, my dear friend Michelle casually asked me  what I wanted to do to celebrate my upcoming 40th birthday. Hmmm, I wondered, I hadn’t really thought of it much yet. Little did she or I know what her question was going to inspire!

That weekend, my husband and two young sons were traveling to camp for the weekend.  Just love those road trip
conversations...such precious time to enjoy sharing thoughts and ideas. I shared this 40th birthday conversation with my husband and the answer came to me so easily…

I was going to run 40 miles for my forthieth birthday.

Wow. There it was. As soon as I said it out loud, it felt great.

But then I started questioning it. “Maybe I can bike some of the miles?” I thought.

A posse of pals.
A posse of pals.

The next week, I shared the idea with a few friends, and namely, a couple running friends from whom I’d need support. I wrote up a running plan for the upcoming 6 months, had them review it, make adjustments, and then started making it happen.

I was already a “runner”—although I’ve always been hesitant to call myself that—but this would challenge me on a whole new level.

Beyond the challenge of running that day would be the commitment to six months of preparation. My friend Craig asked me what my goal was for the end of i. I knew I needed to prepare adequately so I could have a big smile on my face during that last mile.

Another challenge for me was sharing this grand idea. Part of me wanted to keep it a secret just in case it didn’t pan out. What would people say if I didn’t end up actually doing it? What if I couldn’t make the whole 40? What if I got hurt?

Thankfully, I abandoned the what ifs and decided the support from my friends was as important to me as the running itself.

For six months, I checked off my daily runs and exercise. (There's something so rewarding about adding up those miles!  And fortunately, as the months progressed, I got to run with so many friends, deepening so many friendships along the way.

And yet another posse of pals: love that Elizabeth has more support than the Golden Gate bridge!
And yet another posse of pals: love that Elizabeth has more support than the Golden Gate bridge!

A couple small injuries along the way almost sidetracked me and gave me pause to consider delaying the event, but thankfully, my body took just a few days to recover and I was back up and running.

And suddenly it was here. Almost 4.0. February 15th and the next day was my big day. My sweet friend Kristen brought me over a new sports bra and glide…pretty much the most thoughtful gifts ever. (Oddly, I struggled with pretty bad chafing the whole training but hadn’t addressed it yet!)

I awoke on my birthday to the song “This Girl is on Fire" which my husband put on. I felt so energized, supported and loved!

I awaited my friend Kristen; the plan was that she and I would run the first 10+ miles by ourselves and then be met by friends along the way who would run several mile increments with me.) The door opens and in walks two other very dear friends: This is getting fun before the run even started!

We walk outside ready to roll…and I’m blown away.

I’m met by a dozen+ friends that are wearing matching tees—printed up just for the day's event—and they’re carrying a banner to get it all started! I’m in awe.

Well here it goes…it’s time to make this happen! The group cheers us on as several start the journey. And what do you know? The trails are peppered with beautiful, hand-drawn, supportive, hysterical signs! How incredible!

We ran and ran and ran….and talked and talked and talked.

With a February birthday,we knew we could be faced with inclement weather…and the forecast called for rain. One of my favorite visuals of the day was looking up around mile 10 and seeing the clouds part and there was that beautiful blue sky peeking through at me. That was definitely a gift…and so encouraging for the day!

Along the way, we were joined by so many friends who brought new waves of energy and smiles. With each new friend to join us, I felt so loved and supported that they took time out of their busy lives to be with me on this exciting day. I even enjoyed a surprise visit from an out-of-town sorority sister who I hadn’t seen in 20 years!

Finally, mile 25 came and it was time to run home, grab a quick bite, change into dry clothes, and to say hello to a new group of friends who would take me onto the next leg of the journey.

And then mile 30: "I’m getting really tired ladies!”

And then mile 36: ”We’re getting close!”

Bringing it home, 40 miles later.
Bringing it home, 40 miles later.

And then mile 39: my most important mile. ”This is going to happen!” Suddenly there were over 20 of us running together: kids of all ages with endless energy and so many dear friends…all running together down the path towards my home. And more along the way, cheering us all on!

And as I approached home, a group gathered in front of my home with an awesome balloon arch and a banner for me to run through officially marking this race completed!

This celebration of 40 years, this testament to dedication, and more than anything, this beautiful showing of love and support from my fantastic community…it was here and so very real.

Best birthday celebration ever? (Guessing there was plenty of cake, which would make it the best birthday celebration ever.)
Best birthday celebration ever? (Guessing there was plenty of cake, which would make it the best birthday celebration ever.)

And wouldn’t you know it, I finished the journey with a HUGE smile on my face and whenever I think of the day, that huge smile returns—along with tears of happiness.

What was (or will be) the most important mile of your life? We want to know.

We’re going to make this an ongoing feature on the website (and potentially include some important miles in our yet-to-be-named third book, out in spring of 2015). Best way to submit is to email us your story with a picture: runmother {at} gmail {dot} com with “Most Important Mile” in the subject line. Please try to keep your mile stories under 300 words. Thank you!




5 responses to “The Most Important Mile of My Life: Elizabeth Boyle

  1. I really wish I was there to support you and to share that amazing experience with you, It seems a life changing experience.

  2. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! You are truly blessed with an awesome support team. Just love this story. How can you not read this piece without happy tears & a smile on your face. Happy 40th to YOU!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing.

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