Mary Kim Titla: Encouraged to run my first marathon
"Thank you King of Pop and King of Rock. Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley helped me finish my first marathon; at least their songs on my iPod did. I held on to the words of certain songs during the difficult times of the race like when my knee started to bother me, “Beat it. … beat it.”

Just two weeks prior to the mid-January P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon I was having second thoughts; my motivation waned. I was burned out from logging so many miles during the six months I trained. Is it worth it I asked? After three half-marathons I wondered if I could run twice the length.

Distance running is a Native American tradition. Tribes relied on runners for survival and it was integrated into the culture for spiritual and recreational purposes. Plus it’s literally in my blood. My mother ran a marathon and so did my late brother. Still, the day of the race I just wanted to get it behind me. I decided this would be my only marathon.

The night before the race about 80 people showed up for the 4th annual Spaghetti Dinner for Native American runners sponsored by the Ak-Chin Indian Community and the San Carlos Apache Tribe. My family and I started this tradition as a way to meet other Native runners. Most hailed from the Navajo Nation. There were others from the Hopi, Pima, Tohono O’odham, Pueblo and Apache nations. The Native runner who traveled the longest distance came from the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana. The event grows every year and has become a source of inspiration. Many runners have shared stories of overcoming diabetes and high cholesterol or simply wanting to lose weight and get fit."

Get the Story:
Mary Kim Titla: Encouraged by friends, family and music (Indian Country Today 2/23)