My quads have calmed down enough for me to tell you a little tale.
Once there was a crazy graduate student who thought it would be fun to train for and run the St. George marathon. She had never done that one before, and her sister and sister-in-law all registered together. What a time for some good old-fashioned family bonding.
Well, then the training part came. And it was very very hot and humid in Virginia. And then she rolled her ankle helping someone move and the swelling never really went down. And even she never seemed to get enough sleep and enough to eat (TRANSLATION: she had a ginormous appetite and ate everything in front of her but just didn't seem to be burning all those calories). She made it through the long runs, even though her running friend suffered a very serious injury and she found some great guys to run with (and they pushed her and pulled her and made her run much faster than she ever thought she could).
And then the day came. All were settled snugly in their beds for the night at the Courtyard Marriott, when what to their sleeping ears should hear but a wake-up call at 3:30 instead of 4:30! Someone at the front desk made a little mistake (TRANSLATION: I don't know how to talk about that without some not very nice words except they gave us a nice credit on our bill).
Here are the highlights of the whole experience:
- There is a great sense of victory that comes with finishing. Sometimes it's not the finish you had imagined--there was no finish-line flourish here (TRANSLATION: The finish-line flourish is when you have this euphoric burst of energy that comes out of nowhere and suddenly your legs are pounding the pavement and you cross that line with this immense amount of energy and strength and pride). There was just the ability to cross the finish line. Period. It was crossed. And there was something both humbling and powerful about submitting to the idea of finishing. Not winning, not PRing, not breaking any record, not qualifying, but finishing. That's it. It's a beautiful concept, friends.
- There is a power in running with a sister. I thought I ran faster than Lisa, and she had really banged up her knee on her last long run. But I'll tell you what, more than I needed to run fast and strong like I did with my guys in training, I needed to run with my sister. I needed her. She needed me. We pushed each other and laughed and told each other stories and listened to our Ipods and danced and sang and waited for each other to go to the bathroom and get Icy Hot rub-downs at the aid stations. She walked with me when I didn't think I was going to make it up the Veyo hill at mile 7, and I kept her going. At the end, Lisa had a lot more energy than I did, and I wanted her to finish strong, so she went ahead. But then, right before the finish line, she turned around and waited for me so we could cross together. That meant the world to me.
- There is something about making something so huge and seemingly impossible into something more manageable. Lisa and I utilized the Galloway method this time, where you run a mile and walk a minute. Something like that. We learned to conserve our energy and rest our aching muscles. And even though near the end we took more frequent and longer walking breaks, and it was hard to push those aching quads back into running mode, it sustained us throughout the race. My favorite part, though, was the big, silver star balloons at ever mile marker. You could see them from far away--and we knew we just had to make it to that balloon and we could walk. I LOVED those balloons (TRANSLATION: I would have married one if I could).
- There is something about being surrounded by runners. A marathon becomes a group effort. My great bishop was running as was my cousin John and my sister-in-law Jill. There were signs along the route that made us laugh and keep going. And the crowds near the end were energizing. I loved it.