The reason I had waited my whole running career for this moment is because I have had so many give me the little extra umph that I needed to get me to my goal. I have had folks to run with me to pace me to a goal. I have had so many friends who have sacrificed to help me and to help others in their running goals that I always wished for the opportunity to give back and be that to someone else. Yesterday I had that chance and it was without a doubt the pinnacle of my running experiences.
Not everyone is cut out to run a marathon regularly. I personally have decided that I am a bit of a "Wham" type marathoner. The one hit wonder. It was on my bucket list. Something I wanted to accomplish before I kicked the bucket. My friend pointed out to me that the general population that has run a marathon is .5%. I am proud to say that she and I are both in that small percentage, but I don't plan to become a regular there. My reasoning to only do one is multifaceted. The training was rough. I trained by myself, not because I didn't know anyone who was training for a marathon when I was training, but because no one that was training was my pace or anywhere near it. I had planned to run my marathon by the Jeff Galloway method which involved intervals and no one I knew at that time was interested in my methods. So, training for 18 weeks and running for hours at a time by yourself was difficult. I will never forget the day that I had on my running clothes when the kids got on the bus and was about to get in the shower when they got home and my son asked me, "Mom have you been running the whole time I was at school?" The answer was yes, but I began to scratch my head and wonder what in the world I was doing. That was plain stupid, running the entire time my kids were in school. The fact was that 2 years ago I was slow enough that it took me that long to get my long training runs in when I got up into the 20+ miles. But I was registered, and I am not a quitter. So I persevered and finished my training and ran my marathon. I ran the Country Music Marathon 2011. I finished.
The day of my marathon in 2011 the weather was mild then got hot for the second half. The first 11 miles ticked away like nobody's business. They went by so fast because I was running with the group who was running for my friend's sister with cancer. They were a super fun group to run with and we laughed and talked and enjoyed the atmosphere so much. Then we got to the split and on the CMM course, it goes from feast to famine. In the first half, there is tons of crowd support, lots of bands, entertainment, distraction, you name it. As soon as you get to the split, there is nothing. The crowd support drops off, much less bands, less entertainment, less distraction. Some of the course is through the projects and I was a bit scared in parts of it. It was long and lonely. My wonderful husband met me at mile 17 and ran the rest of the race with me. I was never so glad to see him in my life. However, I was in so much pain and so tired that I could hardly walk, much less run. I remember at mile 23 I stopped to use the port o potty and I literally thought I would not be able to get back up, I was stiffening up that fast. I was able to finish that race and I was so "DONE" that I immediately turned around and went to the car after I crossed the line and got my medal. I was beyond exhausted. I told my husband when I got in the car that I was not going to do that again. But no one can ever take away from me the fact that I DID run a marathon. I am in that .5% and always will be.
Which brings me to yesterday. My friend also had it on her bucket list to run a marathon. She trained like I did and yesterday was her day to become a member of the .5%. I told her I would come run the last 9 miles with her. When I told her this, I did not realize it was going to be torrentially downpouring rain almost the whole time. But, it didn't matter. I was gunna go anyway.
We decided it was fun to run in this rain. Somewhere around the time we entered Shelby Bottoms Park was when I hallucinated and thought a piece of concrete was a duck. We laughed about that all the way to the 22 mile marker. Then we started with funny stories because, well, we had time and nothing else to do except talk and laugh. In the mean time, the miles were ticking away. Round about Mile 23 was when the lady passed us with the clod hopper shoes on. Somewhat in the flavor of "What in the World was in the man's backpack" at the Relay Rutherford race last year, What in the World? were those shoes that woman had on her feet?! On to the man who had an obsession with women's size medium tech shirts, then immediately into the subject of recipes. Oh the thought of some fine carrot cake will distract even the most focused person to forget that they are running to Egypt and back and attempting to live to tell about it.
And mile marker 26.
Those first 26 miles are ok, but that .2 will kill you every time I tell ya. In the .2 we were blazing it whether my friend wanted to or not.
The end was in sight. Because I ran in a rain poncho, no one knew whether I had a number on or not, so no one pulled me off the course and I was able to cross the finish with my friend. It was my finest hour getting to watch her accomplish her dreams and make it a reality. Paying it forward, having a chance to do what others have done for me. It is the best feeling in the world.
My friend and I decided that if we could give any advice to those who want to train to run a marathon we would tell them to do some strength training for 6 months before beginning the run training for long distance. It helps tremendously to have a strong core, back and arms to be able to endure 26.2 miles of running. You don't realize this until you have done it.
There are so many things we can do for others that won't cost a dime. Encouraging a friend is one of them. Whether it means running with them, sending them a card, taking them to a doctor's appointment, or just sitting on the deck and listening to them. The encouragement you try to give will always come back to you in triplicate. At least it does for me. I challenge us all to do something to pay it forward this week. And congratulations, my Friend, for reaching membership into an elite .5%. I love you and am so happy that I was able to share that moment with you.
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