I love the start of a race. All of us lined up, alone together. Adjusting our music players, jumping up and down to stay warm, doing our last minute stretches.
Joan Benoit Samuelson (the first woman to win an Olympic Gold medal for running the marathon) was there at the start; saying that events such as these keep our running community strong, and Holy Crap! I was standing only a few feet away from her!
The National Anthem is sung as I get a lump in my throat; get ready, get set, go! And we do. We all go as one; feet pounding; hearts beating so fast; so many people cheering for us; a smile lights up my face as we all run alone, together. It's a beautiful thing to look ahead and see a sea of runners, then look behind to see the same. We all share a common thread; this running thread that joins us together. It doesn't matter if you're fast or slow or short or tall; it doesn't matter if you have the most expensive running gear or the latest running fashions; it doesn't matter because we are all there for the same reason...to get our run on.
And get my run on, I did.
On the way to the race, my 6 year old asked me, why do you want to run so many races all the time?
Well buddy, someday I want to run the whole marathon, not just half of it. To me, the marathon is like the World Series of baseball, or the Super Bowl of football.
He gave me some fuel for my run; some thinking fuel. Why do I run so many races? Why do I want to run a marathon? And then I saw a sign on the trail, a motivating one that might stick with me for a while.
"If you don't chase your dreams, then who will?" Yes indeed, who will?
I don't run for the times; I hardly ever check my watch; I don't keep track of my "splits" because, honestly, I don't even know what a "split" is. I just run. And, if I feel I can go faster, I do. If I feel I can sprint up a hill; I do it. If I get thirsty; I stop for a water break for a couple of seconds. I keep gummy bears or jelly beans in my pocket, not the specialty running gels or goop. I always smile when I run, because really, honestly, I just so love to run. So a marathon is the next logical step in my dream sequence.
Seeing my family cheering me on halfway through, gave me another lump in my throat. I think I am the most vulnerable when I run; my soul is bared to the world; my emotions rise to the top and as I cross that finish line I wipe a tear away.
I finished that race with my best time ever, 1:51:04, and I had the best time ever. There was no 'wall to hit', just pure, honest-to-goodness, fresh, crisp air, with the best cheering squad a girl could ask for. And that husband of mine? Well, he's a keeper. Dropping me off at the start; loading up all the kids to cheer for me halfway; loading them up again to meet me at the finish. I couldn't do this without you.
And someday, I will run my marathon. Dream? You have been warned, I will chase you and hunt you down.
Stasha, this one's for you...SO proud of you for beginning your running journey. And Eden, I ran mile 3 for you.