They say you run 10 miles with your head, 10 miles with your legs and 6 miles with your heart.
But the most important order of business that we need to address: Above all of the other things that happened during the race, I did not have to pee.
Also, y’all should know that when things started to get really rough, I loved thinking of our Running Pack in the Sky. I knew that while I was trying to fight up a three-mile stretch of hill, you were hiking, running and ellipticalling with me.
I was NEVER alone.
Running is joy.
The first 14 miles of the race were honest-to-goodness the most fun I’ve ever had running. Period.
I could not stop smiling.
The spectators were incredible. Even though I usually run with music, I slashed the volume in half so that I could listen and enjoy.
The tolling of the bells at the Basilica. The cowbells. The whooping. The thundersticks. The music blaring out of speakers at block parties. I fist pumped and waved and pointed at them all. I high-fived more kids than I could count on all of my fingers and toes.
Running is a gift.
Miles 14-18 were a battle. I fought like hell and hung on to the pace, but every step was a conscious choice.
At mile 18 I completely fell off of the wagon. But even though my body hit THE WALL at full-force, mile 18 was also the point where I KNEW that I was going to finish the marathon.
The gift? Even though I was in pain, my leg was not. I got to choose how I was going to finish.
The method to the madness…
I ran until it hurt, at which point I walked.
I walked until it hurt at which point I started running again.
I ran when it was faster than walking and I walked when it was faster than running.
Did I look like Damaged Goods or something that escaped from The Island of Misfit Toys? Absolutely.
But I did not stop and I did not let my body win.
Running is love.
This was my day.
The realization of the shadow of a dream that took root five years ago when I watched my sorority sisters cross the finish line.
My family was waiting for me at the 25.8 mile mark. Despite their protests, I stopped and hugged all of them before making one last (tiny) push around the bend to that blessed view of the finish line.
So y’all can imagine how incredibly surprised I was as I came down the finish chute and Ann was there screaming my name.
Crossing the line? Was surreal. I’ve only crossed a handful of finish lines in my life, but this was different.
Freeing. Real. Final.
Jenelle (as promised) was waiting for me on the other side of the line to welcome me home. To pounce on me and to watch me stuff a water bottle and two nut rolls in my running top.
What else are sorority sisters for?
Honestly, I don’t get uncomfortably stiff after my long runs. But the moment I crossed over the finish line, my entire body screamed.
As we were pulling out of St. Paul, I asked Marcus to call David and source 10 lbs of ice for an ice bath. Have I ever Ice Bath-ed before? Absolutely not. Did I really know what I was doing? No. But I did know that my legs felt so incredibly bad that there was no way that sitting in a tub full of ice cubes could be worse. So I did the sensible thing and threw on a swimsuit and my arm socks (I adore them 11/10), got some water into the tub and had Marcus pour the ice over my legs.
I kid you not when I say it might be one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced in my entire natural life.
I’m not entirely sure that any of this has really sunk in yet. I lived it so presently and felt it so keenly, and yet thinking about it is like watching a videotape of someone else’s life.
I know that I moved my body over 26.2 miles, and yet what that actually means is only starting to sink in.
I finished a marathon.
4:41:17? Was not the time that I ever had in mind for my race. But it was only a couple of weeks ago that picking up my packet didn’t look like it was going to be an option anymore.
What I do understand completely: On one beautiful first Sunday morning in October, I got to run. Which is what I’ve wanted to do more than anything else in the world on that day for the past year.
I was healthy.
I was strong.
I was capable.
I was able to enjoy the view from the cathedral at the top of the hill.
It was perfect.