“Self-Care is running 26.2 miles.”

Running is a past-time of mine. It’s been a constant Sunday morning activity for me for years. It has been part of my life for decades in various forms AND I know training for and running a marathon, which measures 26.2 miles, is A LOT of work.  

For the next three months though, it is going to be part of my own self-care.  

“Self-care is running 26.2 miles,” said very few people ever.  Marathon training may be a bucket list item for some. It may be a stretch goal or something “big” to work towards for others. I bet most would not consider training for and running a marathon a self-care activity at all. In fact, up until recently, it was an item I had no interest in adding to my to-do list for 2022 (or ever again really!)

Then things changed.

I’m still in transition apparently.  Changes are happening.  Maybe it’s time to come to terms with the fact we are all constantly in a state of transition…  If you want to read more about my transition, and how some major life events inspired this blog in the first place, please take a moment to read my first blog post.  But for now, I am here to share with you, I am going to be running a marathon AND I am 100% considering this a personal act of self-care. 

I am extremely honored and proud to share I will be participating in the 126th Boston Marathon with Team AFSP on April 18th. The next three months will not only be ones of training, fundraising, running & advocacy, but they will also be a HUGE step in the right direction for my own and healing and well-being.

“Self-care is running 26.2 miles.”

Megan Caldwell, January 16, 2022


“Self-Care is running 26.2 miles,” said very few people ever. And here I am, saying it, admitting it today.

Today I am saying this statement loud and proud, with some nerves and a mix of other emotions too.  Yes, the same person who swore she would never run a marathon again, just dove HEART FIRST into training and fundraising with Team AFSP for the 126th Boston Marathon

I will be running in memory of my brother, Chris, who died by suicide in 2013.  The process to get to the finish line will also be self-care and healing for ME.  

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is an organization I’ve been involved with for the past few years.  I am excited and honored to have been chosen to join this team for this memorable event.  It is also scary: to put myself out there, commit to such a large fundraising goal ($15,000 to be exact), process emotion and grief I’ve been putting aside, all while knowing the toll that marathon training will take on both my body and my time.  

It is going to be A LOT for me – physically and emotionally. Training and running is going to be a piece of my own self-care and processing, and from the nature of marathon training, I know it will also be a reminder as to why my everyday “smaller acts” of self-care are so important, too.   (Yes, the water, sleep, fueling, support network, mindfulness and more.)  

Holding my running shoes and a photo of Chris as I announce my commitment to the 2022 Boston Marathon with Team AFSP

But Megan, you're a runner, why not run a marathon?

I’ve been asked often if I’d ever run a marathon again, and my answer has always been, “Oh, heck NO!”  My body can’t take it.  I don’t have the time.  Why would I? Been there, done that.  Until now.

Being a part of Team AFSP is the only reason I'd ever run a marathon again.

A quick recap of the past: 
  • Marathon #1: I trained for my first marathon in 2008, training at a time when my hours were consumed with my new teaching job in south-central LA and spending my evenings in a Master’s program, coaching the high school basketball team and wedding planning.  I was out to conquer the world.  I could do anything.  I was doing everything.  I was young and ambitious and pushed through all to achieve.  I committed to fundraising with Team In Training and successfully trained for, fundraised for, and ran the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco.  (Yes, at the time the race was highly desirable, known for the Tiffany Necklaces you received at the finish line.)   
  • Marathon #2: A year later I then “somehow” got roped into running a second marathon, probably because at the age of 25, I had no ability to say, “No” to anything.  I took it all on!  I trained with a teaching colleague and friend and then traveled north from LA to run the 2009 Portland Marathon.  I trained with one goal in mind.  Sub-4.  For those not as familiar to the running world, this is running 26.2 miles in under four hours.  Yes, that does sound insane.  I hit it.  3:51.  I was invincible and accomplished.  

Fast forward:  Pregnancy, childbirth, moves, career shifts, injuries, and I swore (and have told dozens, maybe hundreds) of people that I would never run a marathon again.  Already did that.  Over the years I’ve toiled with the idea of challenging my body to qualify for Boston (qualifying times for my age is 3:35, that IS FAST).  I opened, read and contemplated applying to be part of other fundraising teams, most notably with my alma mater, Tufts University, where I was a proud member of the track & field team, and a fundraising slot would raise money towards Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition.   It was still a no, I didn’t want to, I wasn’t ready. More-so, I had checked “the marathon” off my bucket list and really saw no need to even consider running another one.  Plus, after three knee surgeries, three c-sections and needing my body to be healthy for my career teaching fitness, I wasn’t sure my body could actually endure it again. 

Running a third marathon was not a serious consideration for me until December 10, 2021. I received an email from AFSP Massachusetts with the subject line reading, “Run Boston with Team AFSP.”  

I didn’t even need to open the email to know it was time.  

My intuition spoke.  It was one of those things that I read as “a sign.”  In fact, the email directly stated, “If you have ever thought about running THE Boston Marathon… THIS is the sign you’ve been waiting for!”  Well I took that sign and applied that same day. 

I put away my perfectionist-craving self, and in one draft, wrote and submitted my application.  I didn’t even ask my friend who regularly edits for me to proof-read.  I shared my heart and gave my best responses.  I knew the application process with Team AFSP was competitive, with the organization only receiving eight bibs for the 2022 Boston Marathon. 

I knew I was submitting a strong application sharing not only my past running and fundraising experience, but also my passion and purpose in applying. 

Still yet, after clicking submit, I only told two people I applied (running buddy and husband).  I didn’t want to put myself out there in case I wasn’t selected.  (There’s that fear of failure again… I’m sure I’ll sharing more on that.)  I set my fundraising goal at $15,000, just 10-fold what I’ve raised for AFSP for any single event in the past. I began to brainstorm fundraising ideas and how I could share my story to actually make this happen – both the fundraising piece, but also the training and processing piece.  Along with a fundraising & advocacy goals, my other major goals are for me: 1) to do everything I can to stay healthy and injury free and 2) to enjoy the process.  

Ultimately I am doing this for me.

Thanks to what I’m sure was the first of many conversations with my amazing therapist about what this marathon means to me, I have recognized I am first and foremost doing this for me. 

And I am also doing this for so much more. 

  • This is for Chris. 
  • This is about the 130 suicides that happen every day.
  • This is for bringing awareness to the mental health crisis in our country.
  • This is about helping decrease the stigma associated with suicide and mental health. 
  • This is about raising funds and awareness about a cause that is near to my heart. 
  • This is about ensuring I continue to talk to my own children about mental health, sharing Chris’ story and helping them understand and process the real reasons as to why Uncle Chris is no longer with us. 
  • This is about the fear I have as a mom, to not have to live through what my Mom has and is living through, having lost a child to suicide. 
  • This is about my own healing. 
  • This is about my own self-care. 
  • This is about continuing to share my own story to let other know they are not alone.  
Chris walking me down the aisle on my wedding day in 2008, three months before my 2nd marathon.
The dedication of Chris' memorial bench at Green Chimneys in Brewster, NY. My mom is in yellow.

This is why I am committed to continue raising funds & awareness for #suicideprevention

I have decided to go big and have set my fundraising goal for the race at $15,000.

Over the next few months, I will be sharing more about Chris, my marathon training & fundraising journey and I’m learning just a few days into accepting this position that training with Team AFSP, this commitment will be a huge part of my own grief healing process. And I am ready.   

I have some “bigger” fundraising events I am planning, so keep an eye out for those. 

To kick it off, as I push out this first story, I ask you:

Will you donate $26 to fight suicide?

Each dollar is for the $26.2 miles I will run in the Boston Marathon on April 18, 2022.  

I am looking for at least 26 individuals to donate $26 in the next 26 hours.  Will you be one of them? 

(Of course if more than $1/mile feels better, donations larger than $26 are OK too. 😃)

❤️ Thank you for your support and being part of my journey. ❤️  

Lastly, a couple questions for you to consider:

  • What is a bucket list item you had in the past? What inspired you to eventually DO IT? 
  • Or likewise, what is a bucket item that you still have? What is holding you back? What would inspire you or give you the courage to actually do it?
  • How will completing this item impact your own self-care in a positive way? (If it doesn’t, maybe check it off your list? Just a thought 😉 )
  • What causes or organization are near and dear to your heart? 
Take care, my friends. ❤️

3 thoughts on ““Self-Care is running 26.2 miles.”

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