Eight years ago, I was registered to run the LA Marathon for the third time. LA was the first marathon I ever ran and it took me 4 hours and 20 minutes to finish it the first time in 1997. The next time I ran it, it took me 4 hours and 45 minutes. The third time, in 2003, I was shuttling back and forth between my home in Munich, Germany, and my parents home in Tacoma, WA, as my dad had been diagnosed with colon cancer. It turned out to be Stage 4, so I stayed in Tacoma for three months to be my dad’s caregiver. During that time, my sleep was very disrupted, and my emotional state was a wreck. Nonetheless, I tried to make it to the gym to put in some miles on the treadmill. Partially to help clear my mind of all the thoughts and feelings that I felt were consuming me, and partly to remind me to feel alive and to take care of my own body.

Race day came along in March (the month of my birthday), and I stood at the start line of the race, already feeling defeated by the sadness in my heart. I ran for 13 miles, then pulled over to the side and quit. I didn’t have anything in me. Emotionally, physically, and spirtually. I had given up.

A few weeks later, my dad passed away. And I quit running for a long time.

This past November, I finished the ING New York Marathon with a time faster than any marathon I’ve ever run before. I felt strong and proud. And I gave my dad a high five as I ran the streets of NY to the finish.

For 2011, I am going to face LA again. I plan to finish this time. To put my failure of 2003 behind me. To run once again for my dad. For others who can’t run or who have passed. And I will run this for me.

March 20th, 2011. Two weeks after my 46th birthday and day of the marathon. It will be a belated birthday present for me to cross the finish line.

My training begins today.