I cannot express my feelings of elation when someone yelled out to me, “you’ve only got a half mile left!” The road was packed with people lined on both sides, and it seemed every single one of them was cheering for me! Finally! I’m a rock star and this is my red carpet! This half-mile downhill slope with the finish arches at the end stretched out before me and suddenly my weary legs forgot the nearly 26 miles they had just pounded out. They pounded stronger for me than they ever had before and the closer I got, the stronger I ran, smile plastered across my sweaty face! This was it!
But the finish line was not what it was all for. The finish line was not the source of my elation. For how happy could I be if I had not trained, but had jumped the fence to go through that finish line? The finish line, really, was only a symbol of something bigger, something greater than that very moment. It was a symbol of the time spent, effort put forth, the early, early mornings, the tired weekends after long runs, the doubts, the fears, the excitement, and now this finish represented something to me of which I was unsure: can I do it?
When I was seventeen, I wrote down on my do-this-before-you-are-40 list that I should run a marathon. At the time I wrote that, I had no idea if it was something I could do. But it was something I wanted to do. Over the years, when I thought about running a marathon, it seemed like an impossible goal. I attempted two times before this, and both times had to drop out because of injury. Once, my husband and I rode our bikes 26 miles in the hot sun when we weren’t in bike-shape, and afterwards, my husband said to me, “that’s how long a marathon is—think you could run that?” My answer that day, standing in the heat of the sun, sweating and dog-tired was “no way. I don’t even want to think about it.” A marathon seemed to be the unachievable.
My husband asked me again earlier this year if I would train with him to run a marathon. We had just finished a half-marathon—also a first for me, and he said now would be a good time. I wasn’t committed to it at that point, but I thought I would humor him. The longer I humored him, the more I had invested in it, until I finally realized I really was going to run this thing—or at least try!
My 26.2 miles were glorious for me. Tough? Yes, absolutely. But so worth it. There must be 200,000 thoughts that can go through your head in the amount of time it took me to run the marathon (4:58:59 if you wondered), but there are only two thoughts that are worth sharing here.
Training for and Running a Marathon is a Life Changing Experience
First, accomplishing a feat like this is life-changing. At least, for me it is. I feel like a different person; or rather, I feel like the me I expected me to be when I was seventeen. I now know that I can do anything that I set my mind to. Yeah, I had to prove it to myself. And this was a pretty darned good event to do that in. And so out of that, I say to you, do something remarkable. Do something you know you can be proud of.
Running a Marathon is Better With People Beside You
And the second thought I had was this: this would be nothing without the people . . .
. . . first, the spectators . . .
If you are ever a spectator at an event like this, cheer your heart out even for those you don’t know. It means the world to the participants and it makes the experience that much more awesome. Thank you spectators.
. . . and spectators who happen to be friends
The most awesome spectator in my endurance-activity-life is my best friend Caroline. She’s the person that took all the pictures you see here. She has been to every single endurance event I have ever participated in, and she has faithfully taken all the pictures of the event. If you are a friend of someone who does these sort of things, I hope you manage to be half as good a spectator–a support–as my friend Caroline. She screams loud to get my attention when I am running by.
. . . and the people you run alongside . . .
Each person that runs the marathon with you has usually endured similar challenges over the last few months and has gone the same distance as you. When I saw someone who was obviously hurting in the run, I said a little prayer under my breath for them. Running alongside these athletes, whether they complete it in under three hours, or over five, it doesn’t make a difference. Some runners are running for a cause they believe in, some for themselves, and some just to have fun. It doesn’t matter the reason. We are all going through the same thing, enduring a shared experience. Thank you runners.
. . . and the people you run alongside who happen to be your family, your spouse.
At the point in my life where I took up this challenge, I know that I would not have attempted it without my husband’s encouragement. He trained with me the whole way through. When I didn’t want to get out of bed, he encouraged me to do so; when I had worries or concerns about the race, he helped to quiet them. On the same hand, it had been 19 years since he ran a marathon and he wanted to give it another go. And knowing that I was a support to him also, was something else that kept me going. And he was the first person to give me a hug at the finish line. And he was just the person I wanted to share my finish line experience with.
What I’m trying to say is, when it all comes down to it, no matter what we do that is awesome, being able to share those moments with people, and especially with people you love—that is priceless.
Nearing the finish line. We ran 19.5 miles together and then I told him to run on because I couldn’t keep his pace. He kissed me goodbye before running on, and said, “I’ll meet you at the finish line.”
Here I come to the finish line!!
See? I was on TV at the finish line!! Rock star!
After 26 miles and the finish is just around the corner.
Thanks for reading.