5 hours. 47 minutes. 11 seconds.
I still can’t believe that I actually did it. I am a marathoner. Months of literal blood, sweat, and tears went into crossing that finish line. Do I wish I could have finished faster? Well sure. But it felt just as amazing to finish in the time I did. I swear, that was the longest and shortest 5 hours and 47 minutes of my life; while I was on the course, it felt forever long, but when I was within sight of that finish, it seemed like it passed by in an instant.
It was almost weird: months of training, miles of pavement, and hours of running suddenly came down to that.
Not once during that race did I think to myself, “I can’t do this. I don’t think I’m going to finish.” Every time it was tough or long or too cold, I just thought to myself, “Yup, this
sucks, but I KNOW I can do this.” When I can across my family at mile 11, it felt like I had been running forever already, and all I could think was, “…I still have 15 miles left…” But I kept on. My magic mile was number 20. I knew if I could get to 20 miles, the rest would be “easy”. I’d already run 20 miles in training, so to add on another 6 was all mental. And it sure was. I really hit a wall at about mile 23- I walked a LOT, but I was SO close. But I was TIRED. And I mean T-I-R-E-D. Remember the Tough Mudder? That didn’t even come close to the level of exhaustion I was feeling. I remember thinking that at the end of every other race, I still have enough gas in the tank to really go hard at the finish line. But I really didn’t think I was going to be able to do that for this race. And I was fine with that, I really was just aiming to finish, after all. But then out of nowhere, I was at mile 25 (which of COURSE was uphill), and I just laughed because at this point, I was basically done.Except for this damn hill that never wanted to end….. But then my sister-in-law ran up to me, and ran with me for a few hundred yards until we reached the rest of my family waiting at mile 26. I smiled and waved the best I could manage and continued on for the last 2/10 of a mile. I’ll tell you something, I’ll never forget how it felt to round that last corner and see the end: to see friends and family who came to see ME run. To see that banner saying “FINISH”. To hear the announcer yell my name as I neared the line.
And I tell you what: I gave it my ALL. I couldn’t tell you where I dug it out from, but I ran harder than I’ve run in a long time. And in that moment, it truly felt like I hadn’t just run over 26 miles. In that moment, I really felt unstoppable. That moment was what I had spent 5 months officially training for, but actually looking forward to for almost 10. It’s a shame that I can’t even really accurately put into words what that moment truly felt like. This was different than any other race I’ve ever run. All the mornings of waking up at 4:30 am, so many nights of going to bed early, or not staying for a drink with friends because I had to run 18 miles the next day (thanks for understanding), the putting on more miles in my tiny town than most people have done in their cars, the calf injury, the frustration of thinking I would have to quit, the constant hunger, the nerves, the road rash from tripping (more than once…), the heat, the cold, the rain and snow and sun, all of it. Training for this race was tough. I mean REALLY tough. But I was fortunate enough to have a husband who supported me during this probably more than I supported myself, along with SO many friends and family checking up on my training, to even people I didn’t even really know wishing me luck for race day. All of that and so much more went into that shirt, medal, and sandwich I got at the end.
Everyone who has run a marathon before has told me that once I finish my first, I’ll be already planning my next one. While I think it will be a VERY, VERY long time before (if) I ever run another full, but I can tell you with certainty that I have some new goals in mind as far as running and fitness goes. And knowing that I’m in the less-than 1% of the population to finish a marathon, I feel like I can accomplish almost anything.
And with that, until the next race, live life uncharted.