Sunday, October 18, 2009

I Know I'm Not Hopeless Case

This is it. I am 7 days from my first marathon. The Marine Corps Marathon. I am, in a word, emotional. I think about the finish line and my eyes well up with tears. The finish line. Sigh. In my short running career (18 months), I’ve cried every time I’ve crossed one. All four times. It’s an experience that is hard to describe. All in one moment you feel empowered, accomplished, humbled, proud, and most of all a euphoric joy.

In October 2001, I was a spectator at the Marine Corps Marathon and cheering on my brother in his 2nd face-off with this course. There was an incredible sense of unity in the nation’s capital, just a few weeks past the dreadful events of 9/11. The patriotic spirit in the crowd was palpable. As a kid, I’d been to the race at least 3 times to cheer for my dad, a career marine. (His P.R. on the course – 3:03. I won’t even be close.) This race in 2001, I remember clearly. Jumping on the metro here and there with my dad and husband. Racing to cheer Travis on at the next mile marker. Seeing runners clad in American Flags, taking out their cameras for pictures of the monuments. Watching exhausted runners push themselves up the hill to the finish. (Yes, you read that right. It is UP hill to the finish. Marines....)

The most inspiring image came at the finish line. With my dad’s connections (he's kind of a big deal) we had secured a prime vantage point behind the finish line. It’s an amazing spot to see the runner’s expressions as they cross the line that they worked so hard to reach. For 8 years, I’ve thought repeatedly about one woman’s finish. “It’s A Beautiful Day” was blasting through the speakers. The sun was shining down on the finish line. And after watching several runners finish in what appeared to be excruciating pain, I saw this woman approaching the line. She was determined. She was focused. She was smiling. And, just as Bono reached the full emotion of the song, she threw her arms out to her sides, arched her head up to the sun, and crossed the finish line. Her expression was full of joy, accomplishment, pride and peace. To this day, when I hear that song, I see her face. It was that beautiful of a moment. I’ve thought a lot about her as I’ve trained for this race. And, I’ve thought a lot about crossing the finish line myself. "What you don't know you can feel it somehow." That is what has pushed me through this training, through the pain and through the desire to hit the snooze button instead of going out for a run.

It should be no surprise that I’ve also thought a lot about dessert. Whoopie Pies to be specific. I’m not sure where or when the tradition started. I just know that anytime my dad or brother ran a marathon, my mom made Whoopie Pies. Now, I will have earned mine. And because Carl’s Ice Cream is positioned perfectly half way between D.C and my parent’s house, we will be stopping there for a cone. And perhaps, a milkshake.

1 comment:

  1. Sports psychologists say having a concrete visual of a happy finish-line moment is worth a thousand words in terms of mental prep for race-day, and you had a pretty great one. I'm sure the Whoopie Pies didn't hurt, either.