Here's to a very late marathon recap! On the whole, I had a satisfying marathon experience. We drove to Philly last Saturday and had the opportunity to stay with an old running/church friend and her family. We reconnected over Brazilian food and a game of Settlers before I surrendered to my bed. I actually slept through most of the night when my alarm went off at 5AM; before I knew it, we were off to the race start. I couldn't have asked for a better weather day: sunny and in the 40's. I found a port-a-potty, and then my race corral, and then we were off. The marathon course is beautiful...winding through the historic parts of the city and back toward the zoo and art museum, then through Fairmount Park again and to Manayunk before the turn around and end at the art museum. And nothing could prepare me for the number of fans. I think this was the highlight for me: the support of numbers of people who wouldn't have known my name except for that it was printed on my race bib; the support of some friends who traveled long distances, one with an Elmo doll, to cheer me on; and the support of my husband, who ran most of the last 3 miles with me despite the fact that I was exhausted and unpleasant at that point (I compare running a marathon with giving birth...that may give you a picture of what he was dealing with).
After a slow start, I was able to settle into my own pace around mile 3, and for the most part, stick with that pace until around mile 18. I decided then that I needed some extra motivation, so I put my headphones on. My ipod died a few minutes later. I was disappointed, but I didn't want to let it ruin my race. I was starting to struggle physically and mentally at that point. Whenever I heard running water, and there were several points in the last miles when I did, I would try to focus on why I was running the race, in hopes that it would help me to regroup. I've been in this situation before: the part of a race when I need to decide whether I'm going to keep chasing my goal, or whether I'm going to give up and just resign myself to the fact that I was running a good race but can't find the strength to keep at it.
I feel a little like that right now, hence the late blog entry. I've spent the last few months learning more about and raising money for a cause and a people who mean a lot to me. I've had opportunities to start this blog and connect with old and new friends. I've had a marathon training plan telling me exactly what I need to do every day to meet my goal. I've felt confident that I've been in step with God; I've been running a good race. Now, in this post-fundraising, post-marathon place, I'm feeling a little out of steam, and I'm also feeling a little scared, because I had this really good thing going and I'm not quite sure how to keep it going; I was racing toward a strong finish and now I don't know how or if I'm going to complete the race. I don't know what my next steps are or how to take them.
In the marathon, when my body and mind started to fail me, I received a huge hug from Elmo, the company of my husband, who loves me and runs with me even during some of my lowest moments, and the smiling faces of friends who cheerfully greeted me at the finish line. I welcomed these as gifts along the way, gifts that helped me to finish well. As I consider my next move, I'll look expectantly for those things that will motivate me and point me in the right direction.