Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Crossing the finish line...

My first half marathon medal!  I DID IT!

Six months of training. Six months of fundraising. Six months of pushing myself in ways I never dreamed possible.

Countless good wishes, cards and a music mix for good measure, to encourage me, to propel me to cross that line.

Sunday was race day. The ninth annual ING Miami Marathon.

I was nervous. I was excited. I was missing some pretty important people.

My mother in law was scheduled for her second to last chemotherapy Monday morning. My father in law was trying to figure out a way to get down the hours it would take to see me cross the finish line. I put my foot down.

My sister was going to bring my nieces at the crack of dawn, in that multitude of people, to see me cross the finish line. I put my foot down.

My brother and sister in law, so far away in distance, so close in my heart. Their card a few days before moved me to tears. Such powerful words written on such an innocent looking card.

I carried them all in my heart instead.

The night before, as my family and I sat amid over 200 other Team In Training runners, I looked over to my husband. The face that has mirrored my own happiness and sorrow for the last twenty years had eyes filled with tears, bottom lip trembling. When I whispered to him, asking him if he was okay, he held me close. His voice breaking with emotion, he said, "I am so proud of you."

I looked over to my sons as they sat with us. The faces reflected back my own excitement. Their smiles, lighting my way.

It was a restless night. Motherhood does not take a day off just because of a 13.1 mile race. I tossed and turned, worrying I would oversleep and miss the gun. But I would only oversleep if ever got to sleep, though.

In the still darkness of Sunday morning, my alarm went off. I rose, weary. I glanced at the sleeping men in my life, and knew that I could do it.

As I got ready at 4:00 am, I wrote my family an email. In part, it read:

Standing front of the mirror this morning, I do not recognize the woman staring back at me. She is dressed like an athlete. She is ready to undertake the most physically challenging event she could dream of. Yet there she is, and looking back at the last 6 months or so, I know that I could not have done this without any of you.

I did not recognize the face I saw. The face was confident, strong, athletically determined. The face showed none of the fear I felt within my own heart. The face showed preparation, an air of calm, and anticipation that I dared not feel.

Yet, it was my own face. My own eyes that would see the glorious sun come up on the MacArthur Causeway at 7:00 am. It was my face glistening in the heat of this beautiful morning, as my legs carried me, fueled by months of training, adrenaline, joy.

It was me.

During the race, my neighbor and I ran side by side. Much like the past six months, we were able to motivate and carry each other for 13.1 miles.

Throughout the race, there were hundreds of spectators, armed with beach chairs and homemade signs, cheering the brave souls that ran, walked, or hobbled by them. Countless, smiling faces, urging you to go, to run, to do better.
Seeing the kids at mile 11...
At mile 11, I saw my boys. John had gotten on the People Mover, and decided that he would be able to meet there and still have enough time to make it back to the finish line. How to describe the feeling when I saw my boys? When I saw my greatest cheerleader? I was afraid the emotions of the day would bubble to the surface, bringing me to my knees with over two miles to go...

The end came slowly. It seemed that every turn would bring the finish line. The split where the full marathoners came. For an instant, I thought of what that would be like. To complete 26.2 miles. I stayed on my own half marathon track.  I am not ready.  YET.

Racing towards the end...
The drum lines kept urging me on, with each beat pushing me a step or two closer to the finish.

I felt strong. I felt invincible.

And then, the cloud of orange and blue balloons, intertwined to create the arch I would run under. With a sudden rush, I felt myself run faster, harder, than I ever had in my life. I was there. I CROSSED THAT finish line RUNNING!

View of the finish line from our hotel room...
All the emotions I thought I was going  to feel never materialized. Instead, I felt like vomiting. I don't know if it was the strenuous exercise that I had just put my body through, the surprising heat that made its appearance halfway through the run or the fact that I REALLY needed fluids, but the tears I was sure I would have weren't there.

I received my medal. As I gazed at it, I thought of the past six months. I thought of the past 37 years. Of keeping myself within these self imposed boundaries. Of wanting more, of being afraid of trying things that scared me. And I thought to myself, from now on, that finish line means the beginning of being a tad bit fearless.

I called John to let him know I had finished. He told me the boys had seen my whiz by at the end.  We made plans to meet up. I called my neighbor, Sande who was just behind me, waited for her. We hugged each other, knowing we had done it together.

I searched for my family. When I finally found myself in my husband's arms, I felt the tears come. Tears of joy, of relief, of disbelief. Had I really done this? Was I really standing here, among all these people, celebrating this accomplishment?

Yes, I was.

And they were here with me, sharing every incredible second.

Even the ones I carried within my heart to cross the finish line...

There is no turning back.  I am changed in ways that I cannot put into words.  I am grateful to have been able to something for others, that helped me do something for myself.


  1. I am so proud of you!! Congrats! You deserve a big old burger after running that race!

  2. wow! congratulations! my goal this year is to do a few 8k's then possibly do a half next year. we shall see!


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