And.....I can breathe again!! My first marathon has come and gone, and while I didn't finish under my goal time, I finished nonetheless. We arrived in New York early Saturday morning and after a quick stop at the hotel to drop our bags, we headed to the Expo to pick up my bib race packet. After checking out all the booths and getting some free goodies, it was back to the hotel to take a much needed nap. After refueling, it was off to an Italian restaurant to load up on some carbs, and then Jonathan wanted to take a stroll through Times Square. I've been to NYC a few times, but this was his first, and I think it's safe to say he's not a fan of all the crowd either!
Surprisingly, I was able to sleep pretty well the night before the big day. I had to get up at 4:30 Sunday morning in order to head out to catch my 5:30 am bus to Staten Island. Once we reached the village, it was a lot of waiting around. My wave start time wasn't until 10:40am, so by that time, I was cold and very anxious to get started. As I watched the first two waves of runners cross this bridge, my nerves started to kick in, as did the emotions. I thought of Brenden and how excited he was over this race, but also the many other people counting on me to finish. I held up pretty well for the first 14 miles or so, but my knees started to ache badly. I had some trouble with my right knee early in training, but for the past few months it held up great. During my last long training run, 20 miles, my left knee hurt pretty badly, but since that was the first time it gave me trouble, I didn't give it much thought. Unfortunately, race day was the day they both brought on some pain. Through all the pain, though, not once did I think of giving up.
I wish I could describe the emotion I felt when seeing some of the people I was running with. There were several young men, who were triple and quadruple amputees, WALKING the race. I passed one guy who had cerebral palsy, several elderly people who couldn't even stand up straight. But they were doing it. They weren't giving up. And each time I saw one of these marathoners, I felt inspired. The oldest in Sunday's race was an 84 year old woman. Can you imagine being 84 and running a marathon?!?!?
Reaching the finish line was one of the best feelings I can describe. As I approached it, the only thing I could do was cry. I was reminded while I was even there to begin with. Brenden was truly the one who got me there. Every step of the way I thought of him and how much I push him. I remembered him waking up each day asking me how my run went, clapping for me, saying "Good job Mommy, I'm proud of you."
That night, my brother said, "Other than giving birth that was probably the hardest thing you've done." My answer, "I'd rather go through labor and delivery....at least there are drugs to ease that pain." Having given birth naturally, I'd do that a thousand times over. 26.2 miles was absolutely the most physically difficult thing I have ever done. But it was so worth it. While I was disappointed with my time, I still had a medal to show for my months of hard work. And it gives me something to improve upon for next time.
Our team of 9 runners raised $49,000 for the Spina Bifida Association....AMAZING!!!! I have so many to thank for supporting me over the past 6 months, from fundraising, to words of encouragement, to those who watched my kids so I could train, I truly could not have done this alone.