running watchTo my brother,

We haven't spoken in a while. Since we've never been the closest of siblings, it doesn't surprise me. I miss you. It's weird when people ask how you're doing and I haven't the slightest idea. I've been thinking of you a lot lately, for one reason in particular. I don't know if you know, but I'm training for a marathon. A full marathon, 26.2 miles. Who am I kidding? You know how far it is.

To some, it's no big deal. I want to tell you because I remember the countless days growing up when you used to tell me to "go run a mile." You know, that comeback you'd always sling at your younger, overweight sister when she did something to get under your skin?

In retrospect, it was a solid insult. I couldn't run a mile to save my life back then. You knew that. I remember the distinct high-pitched tone in Mom's voice when she'd reprimand you for saying that to me. Every. Single. Time.

This morning I ran 15 of them. Fifteen miles. That's why I'm checking in, to say thank you.

Thank you for inspiring me to become a better person. After ending up at the same college as you and spending a year there together, you made me realize that as I got older, I needed to take better care of myself. Taking better care of myself involved actually lugging myself to that dingy overcrowded gym, turning down French fries at the dining hall in exchange for some low-cal soup of the day, and skipping that occasional kegger at your fraternity house. (I heard it got condemned, by the way. Something about termites.) It's OK. You had no clue when you were ragging on me for being "lame" and "staying in" that I was just trying to get on track with my health. To me back then, it was sorta funny.

You want the truth? Every single time I run, I think about that phrase "go run a mile." I think about how damn far I've come since a much pudgier me accidentally bit you at age 5 because you stole the Nintendo controller from me and you retaliated with "get your fat butt away from me!" (Didn't think I remembered that, did you?) I think about the first time I ever did run a full mile next to you on a treadmill at our local gym, and how you had and still have absolutely NO CLUE how much that moment meant to me. And still does.

I want to cry after every long run. It's not your fault. It really isn't. I'm just so thankful, that's all. I'm thankful that I can run. I'm thankful that I'm 70 pounds less. I'm thankful that I have such supportive family and friends to join me in this new journey.

I guess this letter is my own way of letting you know that you really are a huge part of why I started this journey in the first place. Please come in October. Be at the finish line. I know Dad can be embarrassing with that big sign and his bazillion Facebook race updates, but if you could even remotely make me feel like you were actually proud of me for once, I'd be forever grateful.

I guess, though, I already am. Thanks, bro. For that first mile, and for every mile since.

All my love,
Em

P.S. I know the homecoming game is that same afternoon. If you promise to carry me or push me in the old Radio Flyer in Dad's basement, I'll buy the first round.

Who inspires/d you to get in shape?