Yesterday began with a sense that the universe was determined to either kill my spirit or kill my marathon literally. Before the race even began it seemed like my day might be doomed, but I stopped looking at the things going wrong and focused on what was going right. I saw my running sister before the start, the weather was perfect, and I felt ready.
I took the first two miles nice and easy and began my approach of the Ambassador Bridge. At the bottom, you can see runners already crossing the bridge while the sun begins to rise, and by the time you reach the top you can see the sun peaking over the horizon. Even with my sometimes crippling fear of bridges, it is my favorite moment in the half marathon (and now the marathon).
A huge grin spread on my face until I was flagged down by border patrol and my camelback was confiscated. I burst into tears and even contemplated giving up momentarily, but only for a moment. It was either shove everything I could into my sports bra or give up. (We are talking 4 Gu packets, a honey waffle, my ID, money, and my car keys) I had to carry my phone for the next 24 miles. In frustration, I ran over the bridge without even a glance at the river and began my trek through our gracious hosts in Canada.
Running Means Being Alone With Yourself and Being Comfortable With That
At mile 7 I began my descent into the “Underwater Mile” in the tunnel and for the first time in 8 years, I was scared. With all the extra security I was concerned there might be a real threat. If there was, that would be the optimum place. I was extra clumsy on my way up and out and stepped in a pretty deep hole and rolled my ankle hard. Once again, I thought my day was over, but I kept going and after a bit it was fine.
I passed the remnants of Joe Louis Arena and was brought to tears at my beloved old building and was near weeping till I saw Katie running to hug me. I exploded with joy and headed to mile 10. Historically, during the half, I struggle most after mile ten, but not yesterday. I cruised my first half marathon and looked at my watch and saw a time of 2:10. I was way ahead of schedule.
I kept going and felt strong all the way till mile 19. The rumors were not mistaken about the dull second half and by the time I hit the geese poop-filled Belle Isle at mile 20 my left toe exploded a blister and almost laughed. My physical and mental state started to deplete significantly here, but I pushed myself forward knowing Mike and my dragons were at the finish line and I was still on pace to reach my 4:30 goal.
Never Give Up, Never Surrender!
The next 6 miles were the hardest part of the race and I struggled, but I also refused to give in just as I did the rest of my race. I came down the final stretch and felt incredible and then I saw my boys and the tears started flowing. I crossed the finish line with tears of joy.
Of the many different kinds of races I’ve run, the accomplishments I’ve had, there is absolutely NOTHING like the feeling of completing a marathon. My final time was 4:34 which beat my Chicago time by 31 minutes. In the end, I saw my friends and was greeted by the warmest congratulations. All three of us had magnificent race days. Then I got to hug the loves of my life and drive home.
Honor The Journey
There were so many moments when parts of me wanted to give up or call it quits, but those voices are so much quieter than they ever have been in the past. Aside from believing in myself I know a huge part of the reason I crossed that finish line has been because of my dear friends Christine and Macair, but hugely to Mike who has spent the summer supporting my insane running schedule and nurturing me through injuries, mental breakdowns, and exercising the very definition of patience with my anxieties and hurts.
Today I sit shiny and chrome in the misery that is chaffing from several extra pounds in my sports bra, screaming joints, and muscle spasms. I have never been more content in discomfort. This is my story, but I can’t be sure that even I can express with words what I feel. Yesterday was a day of days.
Thank you, everyone, for your support. I look forward to my next adventure, whatever that may be.