26.2

6 months of training.
2 pairs of sneakers.
Gallons of Gatorade, Smartwater and coconut water.
A couple pairs of bloody socks.
Some tears.
3 trips to the Physical Therapist.
One new SweatyBand.
Lots of nerves.
26.2 miles.
5hrs05min.
I completed the Vermont City Marathon.

As I write this I realize I probably should have written my thoughts down the day after I ran. With each day that passed after the race I began to forget the pain, cramping and fatigue and only remember the complete runners euphoria you embrace. I am assuming this is much like giving birth. Since I haven’t experienced this before I can only go on what I am told. The most excruciating, body numbing process. But after the baby is born, you have so much love for this person you just met that you begin to forget the discomfort and therefore have another kid.

Like I said, only been told this, not from experience!

About 3 weeks before the big day I began to hit a wall in my training. I started feeling sharp pain coming from my left hip flexor. Between teaching cycling and running higher mileage, I knew my body was beginning to feel the effects of my training. I started seeing a physical therapist the week of the marathon. 3 sessions later I certainly wasn’t cured, but it sure gave me a lot of confidence!

On race day I was terrified to say the least. What if I couldn’t run? What if I didn’t finish? What if my hip gave out? I recognized that most of my thoughts had a negative connotation. It was at this point that I had a serious, excuse the expression, “Come to Jesus” meeting with myself. I knew I had prepared as much as I could for this event. I knew I was given all the tools I needed. I had the support of my family and friends. I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from achieving this goal.

At about mile 18 I hit The Wall. I am capitalizing this because I feel it is that significant. Most runners experience this moment in a marathon when they begin to feel excruciating pain, fatigue, cramping and mental exhaustion. I am come on, how much self motivating can you do?! I also was dealing with the fact that although I was keeping up with my water/Gatorade intake, I was dehydrated.

It was in this moment that I made the decision to push forth. I could just as easily stopped, walked, stepped to the side, quit. Instead I put my head down, starred at the gravel and ran. I recognized that if I looked up as I was running I would instinctively look for mile markers. Well if that doesn’t drive you crazy I’m not sure what would!

Nope. Head down. One foot in front of another.

That was my mantra.

With 24 right around the bend, my calves started severely cramping. I am talking stabbing the back of your legs with a knife pain. I looked down and without even contracting a muscle my toes started curling underneath my feet. It was like my body was refusing to run. As if it was saying, “You’re an idiot. Stop now. Ok, you’re not stopping…. well I’ll fix that!” I knew this was because I was dehydrated. And still, I pushed through. Mentally replaying my mantra.

Heading into the finish I knew I’d get emotional. I exited the covered bike path to see my father standing on the edge of the path. A marathon runner himself, I knew he knew my pain. I could feel myself get choked up as goose bumps filled my body. I yelled out to him, “How close am I?” With a wave of his arm I knew I was closer than I thought. The pain began to subside and I turned in my final stretch.

I had taken out my headphones to really embrace the crowd. At this point not knowing if I’d ever experience this again in my lifetime. With my name on my bib I began to hear people shouting my name. My mom and sister were feet away from the finish and screaming at the tops of their lungs.

I was the only one in this pocket of runners. They called out my name, congratulated me and placed the medal around my neck. My legs immediately began to lock up as I started to walk. I grabbed two waters and finished them within seconds. Upon feeling like I was both going to throw up and fall over from muscle fatigue, I slowly walked around trying to find my family.

That was it. I had done it. I am able to check that one off the bucket list and move on. Or do I want to? The number one question I got when I returned to work was, “Well, would you do another one?”

Maybe. But for right now I am going to bask in the glory of the this one. I appreciate my body in ways I never did before. It took me 26.2 miles.

And that’s something I’m pretty darn proud of.