Sunday, September 21, 2008

26.2

The alarm goes off at 3:30am this morning. I quickly get dressed, make a big bowl of oatmeal, and am out the door at 3:55. The hour and a half drive goes by quickly; before I know it I am parked and following the crowd to the biggest line of school buses I have ever seen. I swear there are at least 100 yellow buses lining all the nearby streets. After a quick bathroom break, and some instructions I board a bus along with 4000 other crazy people. I take a seat next to a young college girl. It's her first time too. We're both a little nervous. She shares her bagel with me, and we proceed to small talk for the next 40 minutes while we travel 26.2 miles through several small towns, and then up a long canyon. We are surrounded by darkness - the huge rain clouds cover whatever light would be coming from the moon. The sky is just beginning to lighten as we debark the bus at 6:40am. I have to pee; there are about 60 port-a-potties, but the lines are forever long. I wait for 10 minutes without making much progress. I assess my options and decide a short hike to some bushes is really my only option. There's no time to waste waiting in line.

After finding a bush, I follow the light from the bonfire burning just down the hill from me. It's warmth draws me in on such a chilly morning. I sip gatorade out of paper cup as I warm my legs by the fire. The sound of the gun is coming any minute. I wait for what seems like forever. This is the moment I have been preparing for for the last 3 months. I get lost in my own thoughts, until I hear a sudden, loud, gun-shot.  All 4000 of us begin filing down the canyon. Everyone is trying to run, but there is no room. 

After several minutes we have all spread out a little leaving enough room to really begin the run. We all set our own pace and begin the long run back to the finish line. Mile by mile pass by slowly - some miles slower than others. I realize quickly that if I count the miles as I go I will never make it such a far distance, so I agree with myself that I will only focus on one mile at a time - no thought of how far I have come, and no thought of how far I still need to go. This seems to work.
I meet friends along the way. We run a short ways together until our paces no longer match, and we drift apart without a word. Whether it is only a few feet or few miles we spend together, I am grateful for the companionship and the motivation to continue. 

The hours tick by - the miles all begin to run together. Before I know it I am at the base of the canyon. There are hundreds of people lining the streets - cheering, clapping, ringing bells. I can't help but feel that all those people are there just for me - angels sent to lift my tired body and encourage me to keep going. I wave and cheer back - grateful for their support. The crowd quickly thins out and I wish more people would come - I wish all the people would cheer when I pass them. Don't they know how much their cheering helps?

It begins to rain - a light rain. I am grateful for the change - anything to break up the monotony of the miles that lie before me, although the rain doesn't last long. The miles keep coming, getting harder and longer with each one, but I keep running, knowing that if I stop I won't start again. 

Finally I see it - mile marker 25 - the last mile marker before the finish. I try to pick up the pace, I'm so close, yet my body can somehow sense that that last mile will be the longest mile of the race. The rain starts again, although this time it is not a light drizzle - it is a cloud burst - coming down in huge, rapid drops. In less than a minute I am drenched, but it is so refreshing. As quickly as the rain starts, it stops. I hear someone yell "2 more blocks". Can it really be only 2 more blocks. And then I see it - the finish chute. I have made it - I take off at a sprint and cross the finish line as the clock reads 4:10:00. I am a marathon runner!


24 comments:

Larissa said...

Congrats Sunny! That's an AMAZING accomplishment. Loved knowing all the details of the story too! Antalya is getting so big and she's just as cute as ever. (and so are you of course).

Jill Hunt said...

That is so awesome! What an accomplishment! I am sure you are SO tired. Way to go! I don't think I could ever do that!

mum2brady said...

Whooo hooo - Congrats Sunny! You are amazing!!! I'm pretty sure I could never run a marathon! What an achievement! WTG!!!

Sonja said...

YEAH!!!! I'm doing a little happy dance for you! You are incredible! I'm glad it went well. I love this post, so beautifully written.

All hail the marathoner!

Tara said...

You are my HERO!! I'm so proud of you Sunny. Way to accomplish a hard hard goal. It must feel awesome. Thanks for sharing the details...

Give Antalya a squeeze for me :)

..Mathew John...Brynn Ashley.. said...

SUnny we are so proud of you! Congratulations--your hard work has paid off in a big way!

Sheridan said...

Wow!!! You go girl!! I'm so proud of ya, Sun! You're amazing! And what a beautifully written post - I felt like I was experiencing it all with you! There is nothing you can't do!

datri said...

Congratulations! what an amazing accomplishment!

Brittany & Josh said...

Your are freakin' awesome! Way to go Sunny!!!!

hiatt family said...

That is so awesome Sunny! What an accomplishment. I loved reading all about your experience.

Jan said...

What a great job you did recreating the experience in words! I loved reading all of it. I know this is an accomplishment that will always warm your heart when you remember . . . So, so proud of you in reaching your difficult goal! You're a toughy!

Stuart and Sarah said...

I AM SOOO Proud of you!! You did it!! We still need to do a 1/2 together sometime!

the stahle's said...

Congrats!! I loved reading your story of the day (you should also be a writer). You are amazing!!

Alan and Jeni said...

Way to go Sunny! You are amazing! Thanks for sharing the experience.

The Tandy Family said...

Holy smokes, I feel like I was there, and I'm suddenly exhausted!!! I'm so proud of you Sunny!!

Becky & Joseph said...

Congrats, Sunny! That is so great and you described it so well that I felt like I was one of the spectators cheering you on! I wish I could've been there to cheer you to the finish line! That's something to really be proud of and I'm very impressed you did it. Great job!

jhalversen said...

I would have helped cheer you all the way!!! That's so wonderful Sunny! WAHOO!!!

Debbie said...

I have decided that since I don't have a talent of running that far, my talent is cheering on those that can. Hoorah!Hoorah!

Sara said...

You are my inspiration! I had tears start up as I read that lovely post. Congratulations!

Laura said...

WOW! Way to go...I ran track/cross country years ago(Not a marathon). I could feel every step of your story, as the crowd cheered I cried....This is an awesome accomplishment!

Tiffany said...

Wow congratulations! I would like to say that that is something on my list of things to accomplish but I don't think I could ever do that. Good job!!!

Tash said...

Way to go Sunny!!! That is an amazing accomplishment. Wow, it makes me tired just thinking about it.

Dehner Family said...

What a fun read. I am so proud of you - you are my hero! Congrats!

Michelle said...

congrats to you on finishing that marathon! I'm in awe of people who can run 26 miles!