Sunday was a spectacular day for a race. The roads were still wet from the overnight rain. There was just enough chill in the air. Perfect running conditions for the 8:00 am start.
This was to be my second marathon. The first was the Erlander Chattanooga Marathon last March where I ran with my son, Joshua. The conditions were brutal that day. Pouring rain, narrow streets going down the mountain. Nothing I had prepared for. I finished in 5 hours, 47 minutes. I had no field of reference, so I didn’t know what to expect. What I know now, is to expect the unexpected.
While on a high from finishing my first marathon, I immediately signed up for the Grand Rapids Marathon scheduled for October. I was hooked.
October arrived before I was ready. I hadn’t trained like I should have for this marathon (mistake). In fact, I barely trained at all. I had lost my motivation after my May 25K race. Burned out, over trained. Just plain tired. I took the summer off from running and didn’t lace up my shoes until August (mistake).
By now I’m getting nervous. Joshua was encouraging me, reassuring me that I can do this race. “You’ve done one before, you can do this. You will learn something from this race”. It wasn’t until Saturday morning before the marathon that I made the choice to go ahead with the race. I sent the kids a text telling them I was going through with it.
As I was getting my running gear together that evening, I heard commotion coming from the kitchen. I walked out of my bedroom, and there stood Josh. My oldest son, Jonathan, had picked him up from the airport. This kid flew in from Tennessee at the last minute to cheer me on. Incredible. Well, here we go! Absolutely no backing out now!
The run started out beautifully. Or so I thought. I was running quick and sure- a smile on my face (mistake). You get caught up in the excitement of the moment. Spectators line the road cheering you on. The course is filled with runners, each with their own reason for being there. I was paying attention to what was going on around me, and not to what I was doing (mistake). The young woman running in front of me with the name of two deceased friends she was running for, written on her shirt. I overheard her talking to someone beside her, “I have to finish this run for them”. Oh, boy, did I understand that one!
There was a team pushing racing wheelchairs. Athletes supporting athletes. Everyone has their story. And the beauty of seeing so many people out there was pure joy.
Around mile 9 I started to pay attention to what I was doing. Crap. I was starting to tire. I started out to quickly. Too late now. Keep going.
Mile 11, the first cramp gripped my thigh. Crippling. If you’ve ever watched a race and witnessed a runner suddenly stumbling and stopping in their tracks- that was me.
The pain forced me to walk as I attempted to work out the cramping. Okay, gone. Let’s go. This went on and off until mile 15 when I was ready to quit. I hate this. This is not fun. I need to go home; I don’t want to be here. I was almost in tears. But, with the thought of Joshua waiting for me at the finish line, I kept going.
I think it was mile 23 or so when I saw two men walking towards me. Jonathan had his hands up in the air waving. My boys. My support. There. For me. There they were, right when I needed that boost. Right there when I needed them the most. I can’t believe this.
Jonathan gave me one of his famous, delicious, bear hugs saying, “I’m so proud of you, mom”. Joshua grabbed me saying, “You can quit mom. You have nothing to prove. This is your race”.
No. Way. You came half way across the country to see me run a marathon, I’m finishing.
So, I kept going. The boys running some of the way beside me, helping me, pushing me, encouraging me in ways that only a mama’s heart understands.
I finished the marathon, chip time 6:06:58:85.
I am proud of this race. But most of all I’m proud of my family. Jenni’s texts and phone calls from work, Ashley’s texts of encouragement as she’s home with the toddler, and Kaytie and the kids on the phone yelling, “YOU DID IT !!!”. WE did it.
Joshua was right. I learned many things from this marathon. Lessons and memories that I wouldn’t have, if I didn’t go through with it.
Show up for those you love. If you think it doesn’t matter, I can tell you, you’re wrong.