21 miles. A little blood. Some sweat. A lotta tears.

“Ok, so I just finished…and that was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. But…and I have no shame clearly because I am video-ing this for you. But I will say this, you know, if you ever consider running a marathon, you need to think about it first; think about the training, think about your body. Just think. Think a long, long time before you decide to commit to something like this. now, that said, do I regret this at all? Absolutely not because it ahs taught me things about myself that I never would have known had I NOT done this. And from now on, I will be able to approach everything in life with a finisher’s attitude because I have not given up on one run. Every one that I have started, I have finished the entire distance because I didn’t want to lie to myself on marathon day. I wanted to be able to say that I did do every run. So, I’m headed back to my car right now so I can go drink my chocolate milk and try and get the feeling back in my legs (well…there’s feeling, but it’s pain) so I can drive home and have an ice bath. I hope you guys are all having a great Saturday, because mine is going to be spent in bed.”

 On your mark…

21 miles. The phrase rolls off my tongue with ease. 21 miles. Done. And even now as the pain in my body has subsided, and the blood blisters have healed, 21 miles, to me, has become much more than a check mark. It marks the completion of the most difficult part of my training, and the beginning of the final taper to Marathon Monday.

To say this run was agonizing would be dramatic, but true. I’d gotten little sleep the night before and had left essential items behind in my car before I boarded the bus to Hopkinton. I was ill-prepared and lessons were learned. 

Get set…

Hopkinton was a stirring, prepared little town. Security in place (caution tape, too), you’d think it was Marathon Monday if you weren’t in training. Clearly this was a “big day,” the last day of long-runnin’ for most in training. There were hundreds of runners, but the towns affected seemed unfazed. They’d seen this all before.

Go!

In our first 14 miles, I felt great. We were covering the distance. Our one goal? To finish comfortably. At mile 14, however, it all went downhill. I began to experience a cramping I’d never felt. It was as if something were eating away at my legs and I could not stop it as it traveled from my toes all the way through my thighs and to my butt. It was a throbbing, agonizing pain that had me doubled over. I told my running partner, Kate, that I needed to call Coach Rick, because I was not sure that I could finish with 7 miles to go.

“You can do this.” Kate seemed sure. And I believed her, because even as the words escaped my lips to call Rick, I knew I would never forgive myself if I didn’t finish the distance I’d set out to do. So I ran limped.

The next few miles were a combination of stopping to massage my legs, crying, and running/limping. My legs were beyond pain, my Achilles was bleeding and I was beyond self-motivation.  I ran because Kate told me I could. She talked me through every stride and seemed completely unconcerned about her own pace and the fact that I was clearly putting a damper on her run. She would not leave my side, so the least I could do was finish, if only for her patience. I found myself in a good rhythm again, keeping my stride shortened and focusing on my breathing. All seemed ok until…

Heartbreak Hill. I will not lie. I wanted to give up right then and there. It was the first time in 6 months of training that the thought of giving up outdid my drive to finish.  I’d already been running 4+ miles on pure will; there was no way I could stretch another 2 up an incline.

 But then Coach Rick appeared out of nowhere like a knight in shining armor offering some motivation. “You are this much away from the finish.” He indicated an inch of space between his thumb and index finger. That image gave me all I needed to continue up the hill. I told Kate that she needed to finish without me and that I’d be right behind her. I’d held her back long enough. I watched her in all her strength take on that hill like a pro. Eventually, she disappeared from view as I continued at my own limping pace. I would not give up. And I did not. And I cried. And I finished.

 

Happy finisher? Note the snot and running mascara.

Looking BackI learned a lot on this run. I learned that I need sunscreen. I learned that I need more sodium. I learned that I need more hydration. I learned I need better socks. I learned that I need more body glide for chafing. Most of all, I learned that even in the toughest of circumstances, I can always find enough will to take me through an uphill battle. And though this was the hardest thing I have ever done, I know that my potential goes beyond even this. I can finish. And I will.

 

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