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Graham Dethmers is a member of the ProQuest RUN FOR LITERACY Team, one of several teams running in the 2013 Ann Arbor Marathon to support Washtenaw Literacy.  He shares how he was inspired by literacy to train for a marathon:


When I saw the announcement a year ago about a team forming to run the 5K race in the Ann Arbor Marathon in support of Washtenaw Literacy, I knew immediately it was something I had to do. Literacy has been dear to my heart my whole life, and I believe it is the key, more than almost anything else, to success, to feeling in control of our own lives, and to engaging with those around us.

Despite my enthusiasm for the cause, I was quite nervous about the race, as it had been well over a decade since I had done anything that could be called athletic. But having the race be for something more than myself helped me allay my anxiety by keeping my mind off of the approaching task. I didn’t train too hard for the 5K; I focused more on fundraising. I ran a bit in the neighborhood by my apartment and figured it would be okay.

And then fundraising was over and it was time for the race. The race was hard, harder than I thought it would be. But I finished, and I felt very proud. The next day I was still proud, but also very sore, and very tired.

But I was hooked on running. Not immediately, though. I signed up the following week for the Firecracker 5K that took place on that 4thof July, just to keep active, and I trained for that race a little more than the previous race, and I ran it a little faster and felt a little better at the end. Then I did another 5K in the Fall, with a little more improvement, and a lesson in humility when I pushed too hard near the end and felt my body slow and fade.

Then racing season was essentially over and I had to decide on the next goal for the next year. At first it was a 10K, keeping the goal reasonable, then, as winter hit, my imagination took me from a 10K to a Half-Marathon, and, ever the day dreamer, to the Full Marathon.


After kicking the idea around for a few days, I had convinced myself I could do it and decided that I was going to run the full distance the following year. I told my wife and she said, “…okay…” very warily, but was supportive all the same, and has continued to be through the months that followed.  

Then I read, which is what I do when there’s a problem I don’t know the solution to. I read every reputable book and website I could find on training for a marathon. I found a plan I liked, bought winter running gear, and started in January, running in the cold and the snow and the darkness of early morning. I loved every minute, even the painful ones. And slowly, over many weeks, 26 miles didn’t seem so far, or at least so impossible.

I discovered that for myself, any problem is surmountable if it is broken down into manageable parts. You don’t just go out and run 26 miles. You hundreds of miles, in smaller chunks, until you’re ready for the 26 in a row. Most importantly, I know I’m not out there to win, or even entirely for myself: I’m out to raise awareness, do my best, and to run my own race. I hope things go well. I’ve trained hard. All that’s left is to execute.



The 2013 Run for Literacy is part of the June 9 Ann Arbor Marathon.  In its second year, the Run for Literacy raises critical funding for Washtenaw Literacy’s mission to serve adults who need to improve reading, writing, math, computing and communicating in English.  In the 2012- 2013 program year, Washtenaw Literacy served nearly 2000 adults in Washtenaw County, delivering a variety of intensive services through a network of over 900 highly trained and supervised volunteer tutors.  

The 2013 Run for Literacy is generously sponsored by HAP, Llamasoft, and Menlo Innovations.