Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Landscape, Language, Teaching, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination

“The thing you think you cannot do.” A Marathon for Every Mother Counts



Team Wink, Every Mother Counts, Tucson Marathon, AZ


Every day, nearly 800 women and girls in the US and around the world die due to complications around pregnancy and childbirth—303,000 women every year. That’s one woman every 2 minutes. Up to 90% of these deaths are preventable.

Every Mother Counts raises funds and awareness through running to support their work to bring healthcare to women who otherwise would go without. Founder Christy Turlington chose running as the metaphor for the distance that some women have to travel, often walking, to get quality healthcare.

early-morning-running-with-clydeMy own running has always been private. This work inspired me to take my running public and commit to running a 26.2 mile marathon. I was more than a little bit terrified. What if I couldn’t do it? What if I didn’t finish and was found in a heap at the side of the road? What would I tell the people who had contributed funds? The fiction writer in me had all kinds of creative narratives created—just in case. 

A combination of inspiration to contribute to the work of Every Mother Counts and sheer terror of public humiliation spurred me forward throughout my training. I ran in the early morning hours before work, my headlamp bobbed in the darkness and bounced off the glow-in-the-dark leash of my dog and running partner, Clyde.



After first 20-mile run.

Three months later, it was time to head to Tucson for the marathon. I packed my running bag…


…and painted my toes, the 26.2 reminder to finish.


We left frozen Santa Fe to arrive to blooming bougainvillea in glorious Tucson.


I decorated the drop bag to make it easier to find. Plus, when in  doubt, add calavera skulls. Works for all occasions.


I woke the morning of the race to this beautiful haiku poem:

feet pound, lungs burn

frost silvers arroyo

earth turns toward dawn

~ Susan J. Tweit

Off we went. Noé dropped me off at the buses to take us to the starting point.


I sat amidst runners discussing in-depth their caloric intake planned per mile. They had cut up energy bars into bite-size pieces and planned the exact miles they would eat throughout the race. Stress mounted. What?! Was I supposed to do that?! I had eaten a handful of nuts in the car on the way to the bus and not given it a second thought. 

I moved seats and called Noé, who has run three marathons. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. “Just make sure you drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.” 

An hour later, the announcer counted down, and we were off. With each step, through each mile, I thought of the women I ran for, the blessings in my own life, the beauty of the surrounding Sonoran desert, and back to the women and girls who walked this distance for basic health care. I imagined the feeling of galloping horseback through the desert. The miles slipped by.


Prince’s song “Little Red Corvette” came into my mind. I sang along. I timed my mileage and kept each mile under my goal of 11-minute miles. Mile markers 7, 8, and 9 passed behind me. My calf which had been bothering me acted up. I popped Advil like Pez candy. I didn’t care if I had to put that leg in a sling and tie it around my neck and hop across the finish line, I was going to finish. More thoughts of women and girls, blessings, and the chorus of Little Red Corvette.

Mile 22 appeared. Only 4.2 more miles! As a runner, you always hear about The Wall that hits around mile 23. Wall, what wall? I felt great. My son, Luke, joined me as planned. 


We ran. Luke told me all about his classes, his friends, anything. 


Mile 23 ©Luke Wink-Moran

Then it hit. It hit hard. The Wall. Mile 25. The last five miles of the Tucson Marathon are uphill. I looked up the hill ahead of us, stopped, and bent over. I could not move my legs. I thought of everything that inspired me—blessings in my life, the women and girls who walked this distance while pregnant, the beauty of the desert, galloping horseback, every Prince and 80’s song I could think of… I dug deep. Nothing. I could not move.

“Mom,” Luke asked, “Where does it hurt?” 



Mile 25 – The Wall

Luke got down, stuck his face in mine, and bellowed, “THIS IS WHAT YOU TRAINED FOR, MARINE! YOU PAID FOR THIS PAIN. YOU GET YOUR ASS UP THIS HILL!”

It worked. I laughed. I ran. 

100 yards from the finish line I grabbed Luke’s hand. We ran the final stretch and across the finish line holding hands. As we approached the Finish line, tears ran down my cheeks.


Crossing Finish with Luke. ©Action Media

I did not let go of Luke’s hand. Not when we crossed the Finish line. Not when they draped the medal around my neck. Not when I threw up and he held the medal out of the way. Love this guy.


Love a medal with a skull.


I had wanted to run a marathon for more than 25 years. Every Mother Counts and their work inspired me to do so. As I ran miles in the early morning darkness and cold, imagining all kinds of scenarios in which I did not finish, I thought again and again of Eleanor Roosevelt who taught us, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face…You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

logoI want to give special thanks and love to generous friends and family who donated.  Together we raised nearly $1,500.00 to provide accessible healthcare to save the lives of women and girls giving birth in the US and around the world.

I realize that on the global scale, this is a drop in the bucket. Yet each drop represents lives. If we each add a drop, we can fill many buckets. 

I’m already thinking about my next marathon…



Author: Dawn Wink

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination.

36 thoughts on ““The thing you think you cannot do.” A Marathon for Every Mother Counts

  1. What a lovely and inspirational journey.
    l love it I wish all the best and stay healthy and athlete.

  2. You are truly an inspiration and your son, your champion! This is quite a story Dawn, Thank You!!

  3. What a RUN. I’m adding you to the MOVERS & SHAKERS club.

  4. Dawn!
    First, congratulations! Such an accomplishment… tears started the more I read. Inspiration, family matters and strength and courage are themes for me now… THANK YOU! I walked 60 miles for breast cancer and had forgotten about it until I read this, rekindled my sense of honor and purpose. Sometimes what we do matters most because of others. Im blown away… keep it up!

  5. Amazing devotion!!

  6. Dear Dawn, What an amazing journey, I know you are changed forever from the experience for this worthy effort of Every Woman Counts. Love, Dan

  7. Dawn
    I love all your blogs but this one is especially moving. Thanks for writing it.
    Merry Christmas.

    • Dear Anne,
      Thanks so very much for sharing the journey of the marathon and our literary lives. So glad this one touched you.
      Merry Christmas to you and Don.
      A big hug,

  8. Know you only from your posts, which I love, but am so proud of you and your accomplishments. You’re a hero and a model. Howard

  9. Congrats, Dawn!

  10. So proud of you and Luke!! You are good at functioning when push comes to shove! What a great inspiration you are to all of us!! Keep it going.

  11. Dawn, I read this with tears running down my face because I know what it’s like to want to do something that badly and to have to put it off and then train and run through the self-doubts, through the years, through the wall. I wrote that haiku thinking of you and sending you strength and love. I am so proud of you!

    BTW, I thought of you and Noe on Sunday night when I wrote my blog post on Winter Solstice and Hope (of course it has luminarias in it). xoxo

    • Dear Susan, thank you for the shared tears and determination. I felt your strength and love across the miles! I loved reading of the Solstice and of Light, seeing the photos of the luminaries. Your spirit and words do cast light. This piece was especially beautiful and I shared with Noé. Thank you and thank you.
      Much love

  12. So awesome, Dawn! This post gives me education as well as deep empathy for those you help, and profound admiration for your efforts. Kudos to the max!

    • Thank you, Mary Jo! I’m so glad to lift up the work of Every Mother Counts and the women and girls they serve. Thank you and thank you for your empathy across the miles. Big hugs!

  13. O – M – G!!!!!! You did it, Dawn!!!!! What a feat! You are one amazing woman – but we already knew that. ; ) Oh you are an inspiration to all of us in so many ways. I love you to pieces, my friend. And Luke will be my forever hero always, too. -Mary

    • Hi, Mary! SO wonderful to hear from you! Thanks so very much! Love you to pieces, too, and so grateful for you. Isn’t that Luke something?! My hero forever, too. Dawn

  14. Great piece and truly wonderful pictures, dear Dawn! Having Susan here with me that Saturday morning when she wrote that haiku in your honor was fun, too. You both inspire me. XOXO

  15. ​So beautiful. I just need to remember not to read while working on a coffee shop.. they might think that are tears of sadness. No, I can picture you and Luke running the final stretch together, connected as just mother and son can.

    Go girl!

    Patricia Azuara, PhD
    Program Coordinator
    Study of the U.S. Institutes
    School of Anthropology
    University of Arizona


  16. CONGRATULATIONS!! SO PROUD OF YOU. What a great cause and achievement for you.

  17. Awesome Dawn, you rock!!!! Love seeing Luke there for support, fills my heart.

    • Hi, Rachel!! Thanks so very much. Luke’s presence filled my heart, as well. The sculpture you made is right outside my writing room and the light shines on it now. It is just gorgeous.

  18. An amazing feat, Dawn! Thank you for sharing this daunting accomplishment of yours…

  19. WOW!  I am WELMED!  Lovely review of your day.  I was cheering you on from Tennessee!  Love and Merry Christmas!  Shirlee

    • Hi, Shirlee! I loved your Christmas card and getting to see visuals from this new chapter of your life. Thanks so very much for thinking of us! I felt you cheering from Tennessee! Christmas wishes and hugs to you! Dawn

  20. Fantastic! I was so honored to see you for breakfast!!


    • Hey dear Kathryn! Thanks so very much. Loved sharing the stories over breakfast with you both. Noé and I still quote you and chuckle about, “…the only ones left were the winos.” LOVE that! Abrazotes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.