My Marathon

I wanted to take the post today to commemorate a day that will certainly go down in my life as one of the most exciting, incredible, and thrilling days of my life.

Yesterday, I ran my first marathon. After four months of training, logging thousands of  miles, dozens of energy bars, and a black toe (ew) it had finally arrived!  The night before the race I felt so nervous I couldn’t sleep, and kept trying to wake up D (who of course was sleeping like a little child) who unfortunately was comatose.  I woke up at 5 am, feeling tired but ready and pumped for the long day to begin.  After a LONG bus ride to the start, I got out at the racing grounds and even in my layered sweats was still freezing my butt off!  After standing for an hour shivering in my corral, all the sudden people started a fast walk/jog to the start, tossing off their sweatshirts as they went.  Adrenaline coursed through my veins like lightning.  Mayor Bloomberg announced the start, the Star Spangled Banner was sung, and then BOOM – we were off!

Then all of a sudden we were running over the Verrazano Bridge and I was looking out on a sea of humanity — literally thousands of runners, and on my right and left, nothing but a clear blue ocean and a sparkling clear sky.  After several miles we crossed into Brooklyn and the crowds were unlike anything I’d ever experienced.  People were screaming and cheering, little kids were high-fiving runners and handing out orange slices and paper towels.  Bands were playing — including gospel singers!   I was so inspired I knew I couldn’t stop there.

Then as we moved on towards the end of Brooklyn and through Queens (still incredible crowds!!), past the halfway point (13.1 miles) I knew that the hardest part remained ahead – the Queensboro Bridge — a mile and a half of a grueling uphill climb, followed by 1st avenue, also uphill.  I gathered my wits about me, downed an energy gel, and began the uphill battle.  All of the sudden people started dropping like flies, and started to walk up the bridge, and my hip flexor started throbbing in pain.  I knew that I couldn’t stop.  Because if I stopped it would be even harder to start running again.  In my head I just kept thinking “One foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other.”

Then we were on first avenue (uphill of course!) and I got so excited because I knew that my family and friends were going to be on 71st st cheering me on.  I started moving a little faster, even though everything was starting to hurt and all of the sudden could hear people in bright green shirts screaming my name.  I felt so much joy and pride and I knew that if I had my family at my back there was NO WAY I was going to stop until I made it past the 26.2 mile mark.  But little did I know that “the wall” lay ahead of me.

As I ran down first avenue I knew I was getting closer to mile 20.  Mile 20 is called “hitting the wall”, because basically by that point your body has depleted it’s energy reserves and you’re running on fumes.  And even though I was mentally prepared for the pain, you can never be prepared enough.  Not only was every muscle in my body screaming, my head started to get foggy as well.  But I thought to myself, just get through this and you’re almost in the park!  So I pushed on.

As I passed by mile 21, 22 (everything still hurt like hell) and finally crossed mile 23, we headed into Central Park.  I thought to myself – this is it!  This is what you’ve been working so hard for!  And again at mile 24 my family and friends were there, shouting my name, cheering me forward in the last stretch.  I WAS NOT GOING TO STOP.  I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT!!

All of the sudden a wave of emotion swept over me — seven years ago, and forty pounds heavier, running 3 miles, let alone 26 was not a possibility.  I thought about how far I had come, and while not all of it was easy, I had done it and I had transformed my body and my life.  I started to get choked up — but realized that I still had 2 miles to go, and if I cried I couldn’t breathe.  I took a deep breath, turned my music a bit louder and committed to finishing the last stretch strong.

As I turned the corner for the last 500 meters of the race, I went into a fullout sprint to the finish — I still had a little bit left in me (I have no idea from where!).  The crowds were screaming and flags were lining the race and I could see the finish line!  I passed it in 3 hrs 35 minutes!  I HAD DONE IT!!!!!!! As I hobbled to meet up with my friends and family, I felt wave after wave of emotion hitting me – I had really just run 26.2 miles.  I was a marathoner.  Time for my cheeseburger and wine!

As I reflect back on the experience now, I realized that running the marathon is a lot like life itself.  There are moments of immense joy and pride, and also periods of incredible pain.  There are times when you don’t know how you’ll get through, and times when you feel like the whole world awaits you.  But in the end, all that really matters, is the not the glory of passing the finish line, is not the race time or the competition — it is the simple truth that I know that my friends and family have my back unconditionally, cheering me on and supporting me on this journey.  I can’t imagine a greater gift than that.

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