On Sunday I had the amazing opportunity of checking off an item on my Life list. I completed the Philadelphia marathon.
It was hard. It was incredible. It was totally and completely surreal.
I woke up energized and excited, which was awesome considering that for the 2 weeks prior, I was a nervous wreck. The weather was perfect. I had carbo loaded the night before. I had loaded up my iphone with Girl Talk's latest album. I was as ready as I was going to be.
We took off, and the first 8 miles flew by. Around the museum, up through the city, down south street, by the zoo, we hit a hard hill around mile 9, but umm, I'm from Pittsburgh.
At mile 12 I started getting nervous again. In one mile the half marathoners would be splitting off to finish. The rest of us would be going on to complete the next 13.1 miles of the course. I entertained the idea of just stopping at the half. 13.1 miles is still an accomplishment I reasoned. I was starting to feel tired. This was only half way.
But, as we came up on the museum for a second time, there were more people cheering, I grabbed some gummy bears from a bystander, and as I turned the corner towards mile 14, I saw my parents jumping up and down and waving. Sheryl Crow came on my ipod, and I continued down to the Schuylkill river.
Mile 15 I was feeling fatigued. Or I was getting bored. It's hard to tell at that point. One of the best pieces of running advice I've ever got, and one that I frequently give, is to ask yourself if you can run one more step. If you can, you're not tired, you're bored. Keep going. I grabbed some Gu, gave myself some short walking breaks, and kept going.
Around mile 17 it hit me. "Oh my god! I'm actually going to finish this! I am really going to do this." Mile 17 and 18 were fun. It's entirely possible that I was just really high on endorphins at this point, but hey, that's one of the benefits of running.
The first cramp happened around mile 19, as we came up to Manayunk. It wasn't the dull pain I had gotten used to on my long runs. It was sharp and searing just above my knee in my thigh. ow! And then my calfs started clenching causing me to trip a bit. ok, time to walk.
The final 6 miles were spent alternating walking and running, and are kind of a blur. Finally we hit mile 25, the crowds picked up again, I saw my Mom and Dad again right before the finish line, and then, it was over. The line was crossed, someone was slipping a medal around my neck, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to laugh, cry, or fall over.
Since we're coming up on Thanksgiving, I'll do the thankful stuff now. I'm so thankful that I could do this. That my body stayed healthy, and strong, and I didn't get injured or sick. I'm thankful for my amazing friends and family for their support, and encouragement, and for putting up with my incessant talking about running over the past few months. I'm thankful for the other runners I've met and instantly bonded with, who gave me advice and told me I'd be ok. I'm thankful that I work in an office where there is a shower so that I could run over my lunch break, and that I work for an organization which is flexible enough to let me go for a run over my lunch break. I'm thankful for all of the people who cheered, and helped organize the race, and who volunteered. Thanks.