Mile 13 in the Deployment Marathon

An installment in the New York Times’ Deployment Diary

The author's contribution to a Navy ship's slide show on what families look forward to when their loved ones get home.

The hardest part of the journey is the first step, right? Respectfully, I disagree; I think it’s the steps in the middle. We’ve just passed the halfway point in my Navy husband’s seven-month deployment (preceded by over a year of constant in-and-out travel for training, called “work-ups”), and instead of sprinting to a finish line, it feels like my 5-year-old daughter, 3-year-old son and I are crawling along a never-ending trail.

During my husband’s first deployment in 2009, I passed the time alone in Guam by training for the Marine Corps Marathon. The day before the race, I went for a “pre-run shakeout” with the running expert Bart Yasso and a group of participants in the Runner’s World Challenge I’d been training with online.

I asked one of the other women in the group, a seasoned marathoner, what the hardest part of the race was for her. Without hesitation she answered, “Unlucky mile 13.”

She broke down the race for me: “The first 10 miles are lined with people. You won’t even notice you’re running. Around mile 10, you start to get fatigued. At 12, the crowds thin out, the cheering dies down, and all of a sudden you’re aware of what mile you’re in. Mile 13, right when you’re halfway there, you’re going to realize how far you’ve come, and how much further you have to go. That’s when you have to dig deep.”

Click here to continue reading this post on NYT.com

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