It was about mile 13 and I was done. I didn’t want to run anymore. I was ready to quit, no more pain, just be done with this gosh darn thing. Thinking that I still had 13 plus miles to go was the most depressing thought ever. But then I would remember her….
I was sharing with a fellow runner from Australia about how my marathon went. He shared with me how often he feels trapped towards the end; not wanting to keep going but coming so far he couldn’t stop.
Trapped. That’s exactly how I felt. I felt trapped in these grueling and painful 26.2 miles except I wasn’t towards the end. I was just barely beginning. I was trapped and only had one way to go: forward. Except going forward was so excruciatingly painful. I knew a marathon would be painful but nothing prepared me for how painful it could be.
I cried when I crossed the start line. I couldn’t believe this moment had actually arrived; months of dedication and perseverance. Hours spent training; hours away from my family as they graciously allowed me to pursue a dream, a goal. I was here. It had begun.
The first 9 miles were overall good and uneventful. I worked out any kinks I had, found a good rhythm, enjoyed the sights and separated from the half marathoner’s. At mile 9 my sister-in-law’s sister, and her husband, came out to cheer me on. Pam & Dave live a few blocks from the course and kept an eye out for me. I was so excited to see someone I knew on the sidelines. I stopped to give Pam a hug and take a picture. I can’t express how thankful I am that she took time out of her day to come cheer me on! And how miles later I would be so thankful for that sweet moment for this would be the last happy moment for quite a long while.
Somewhere between mile 5 and 6, a very gradual hill began. You didn’t always notice the incline but you were always going up. This continued on till mile 10. And by mile 10, my hips were on fire. With every step I took, there was pain. With every movement of my legs going forward, my hips cried out in protest. To walk brought only momentary relief before it hurt just as much as running. The worst of it was going back into running, oh deal lord, words cannot explain how painful that was.
There is always talk about runners hitting “the wall” in their race. For each, where they hit the wall varies but I would say majority of runners hit the wall at about mile 19 or 20. My first experience, I not only hit the wall early, but I sat down and basked in its glory for a while. Miles 12 – 18 were my wall. The pain in my hips grew but the true challenge was in my mind.
I was discouraged. I was frustrated. I felt trapped. I know I was not a happy camper and I did my best not to take it out on the huzband. It was a mental challenge for me to keep going. I was overcome by the distance still left to go. I am sure this is not anything new for runners but for me it was. My mind, my frustration was getting the better of me. And then I would remember her.
I would remember Diana, our first sponsored girl. I would think about how she used to walk miles to fetch water, dirty water. I would think about her mother who would struggle to put healthy meals into her daughters stomach. I would think about how much Diana has overcome at just 11 years of age and I could go another mile. For my running and all its frustration and pain pales in comparison to what she has experienced. I would also think upon the hope and future she has in her life because of child sponsorship. Little does she know how much she encourages me daily and how she helped me push through my wall.
It was moments like the one above that got me just a little bit farther and when I was mentally getting down again, I would find myself thinking upon Diana and Delphine (our second sponsored girl). This continued to happen till I finally broke out of my wall around mile 18. The fog began to lift, the dark cloud above my head scattered to reveal sunshine and we came upon a water station that had oranges. Oh those gloriously delicious oranges!
When mile 20 approached, I was excited. Yes, my hips were still on fire more than ever however, passing the 20 mile mark meant new territory! In my training I had run not one but two 20 mile runs (thanks to Hurricane Sandy) so from here on out, I was in uncharted waters and I was very excited to be here.
According to the huzband I had negative splits here (meaning each mile I got a little faster). I am not particularly fast however I do recall turning up a good tune and just going for it. Words can’t describe the excitement that grows within as each mile brings you closer to the impressive 26.2 miles. It was the countdowns of all countdowns. I cried at mile 25 because I was just so excited (okay, that and I had miscalculated thinking it was mile 24 and was just so happy to see 25 instead.)
Within a mile of the finish line, you begin to see runners who have already crossed the end with their medals on. They all look up at you, smile and cheer you on. They know, they understand what you are going through having just been there themselves. Emotions are high and the finish line never seems to come….until it does.
And then you are done. 26.2 miles were just completed. You are an official marathoner.
It was the worst, most horrible thing I’ve ever done and I am so thankful, so happy, so appreciative for each and every mile. I do dare say it ranks up there on the pain scale next to giving birth to a child (with no pain meds). Yup, it was horrible and wonderful all wrapped into one. While running I remember thinking to myself I NEVER want to run a marathon again. Can I tell you a secret? There is a little part of me inside that cannot wait for the next one. Words I never thought I would say: I ran a marathon much less that I look forward to the next. However, I am in no rush.
And finally, thank you to all of you who have supported me over the past few months. Your words of encouragement, your willingness to come along on one of my training runs, your support by sponsoring a child or giving towards clean water, all of this motivated me to keep going. Your actions spurred me on towards my goal, to not give up or think it was for not. Your love supported me while I ran, especially when I was basking in the shadow of The Wall. Many an encouraging word pushed me just a little bit farther.
Now, above anyone else, I have to thank the huzband. He ran every step of the marathon with me. He stayed with me, pacing me, encouraging me (verbally and silently). He would run ahead to take a picture I wanted, he would fall behind to fill my water bottles up. He would run back when I decided I did want an orange and he lovingly basked in the dark cloud of miles 12 – 18. Words cannot fully explain how much having you by my side meant to me. To know that you were with me every step of the way. To know we ran a marathon together, I am so very thankful for that!
I am so very thankful for you!