I wrote this from 30,000 feet, give or take.
I woke up the morning of May 6th almost as I always do, with no alarm. I stole away to the bathroom to change, put my game face on, so to speak. Fuel consumed (Generation UCAN and a banana if you are curious) I got in the car with my husband and brother-in-law. Off we went.
I had so many wonderful well wishes and good lucks in my email, text messages, DM’s on Twitter, and Facebook messages…too many to list everyone individually. Every message was truly very special to me.
Driving in the streets that Rocky ran, I had a song in my ears, the lyrics speaking to me “if you had one shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment…” I kept watching the clock; time was not on my side. The car stopped and I poured out of the car, humidity hitting my lungs like I was breathing under water (keep in mind, I am from the desert). I coughed, gasped…and headed for the plastic throne area. On my way in I saw Malinda aka @MalindaAnnHill from Twitter. Shocked, in a sea of 30,000 people I was so excited to be able to meet a “Tweep”.
I head to porta potty city, the line moving slowly, my nerves are getting worse. They call seeded to line up, then start calling corrals. My turn in the giant plastic throne, I jump in, out- my corral is called. I’m stuck in a wall of people trying to get there. I need to meet the one who will carry me to victory (never found her). I’m 5’ nothing, like a nightmare and too polite to elbow these nice people I can’t get to my corral. I’m stuck in a crowd that is moving me, backwards.
I wedge myself through a fence and find myself stuck several corrals back and can’t move. Stuck. Can’t move in the corral. I can’t leave, can’t move forward, or backward. I am wedged. My mind is racing, thoughts of Mom, my son, family, friends; I need to deliver this gift of performance as a thank you. Prove to those who don’t believe in me, doubt me, that I can and will do this.
The woman next to me confides in me she is terrified. This is her first race. I hug her and tell her to enjoy this race. It’s her first, relish it, and take it all in. You only get one first. There are people sitting at home wanting to be where we are but could not get in to this massive race that sold out in only 4 hours. We are lucky, blessed. She hugged me “you are my angel today, thank you”. The girl to my left sees my headband (“Cancer Survivor”), hugs me and kisses my cheek “That’s for my Mom, she’s a survivor too”. I am so overcome with emotion that I almost didn’t hear the air horn go off as the first corral was sent off.
The air horn goes off for the corral I am in. We are packed in like sardines, I’m jogging in place. But everyone is giving high fives, yelling, laughing, and smiling. This is what running is about. A lot of “excuse me, pardon me” as we all bump into and off each other trying to spread out and start running.
Somewhere around mile 2 someone steps on the back of my shoe and I come out of it. I’m down. A woman falls on my back. We quickly move off to the side. She is the one who stepped on me, she is so apologetic, calls me Cinderella. She stays with me until my shoe is on. She won’t go. Shoe back on, we take off.
The humidity is getting to me. I’m under water.
Spectators along the course were fantastic. Bongo players, drum lines,Temple students out in force. The aid station volunteers were fantastic cheerleaders.
Somewhere around mile 5 I heard “I see you Coach! I’m wearing sunscreen!” I smiled, no, I beamed. I still do not know who that was. Whoever you were, I heard you and you carried me around City Hall.
Then it happened, coming around City Hall the congestion cleared and I was free to run. I flew. My feet were silent as they touched the pavement.
I knew early in the race by mile 3 that my first goal would not be achieved. My heart ached at this. By mile 7 I was fighting to meet or beat my time from last year. I was fighting. I was running harder than I have run, ever. By mile 8 my PR was gone. My heart sank. The old me would have slowed down and coasted the last 2 miles, “giving up”. I had lost, twice, already and the race wasn’t over.
I didn’t. I ran harder. Faster. I would NOT give up. I am a fighter. Then, mile 9 I saw my husband towering over everyone. He snapped this picture as I passed.
I would not let up, I was still going to give it everything I had, even though I had lost, I would not go down without a fight. I heard someone screaming my name around mile 9.5 (turns out it was my brother-in-law) I was in full focus I was not going to let up.
I passed the ships in the Naval Yard. My Dad was in the Navy. He ran track in college. His nickname was “The Galloping Butterfly”. My nails were painted in zebra stripes and a butterfly necklace around my neck, in memory of my Dad.
Coming around to the finish I was sad. I did not deliver either goal. I failed. I was heartbroken. Beside me a woman collapsed, she had nothing left. I picked her up and delivered her to her fiancé in the family reunion zone. I go to where I am to meet my family. They find me quickly. Not sure what to say. I call Coach. He puts me in perspective. I ran the race of my life, once I was able to run.
We all pile into the car and my Brother-in-Law takes me to a place I recognize. The Philadelphia Museum of Art where Rocky ran up those famous stairs. I did just that, smiling, beaming, I ran up those stairs. At the top I took a moment to take it in, a bucket list dream of mine. I just did it!
In the car on the way home I am reflecting. The spectators, volunteers, runners, all made an impact on me. The running community is very special.
I walk in the door, limping, tears on my cheeks from not meeting either goal. I lost, twice. Feeling I have let so many down. I see my nieces who I adore; they each hug their stinky Aunt. I go around the corner to find my son, playing with my sister-in-law. He looks up, sees the medal around my neck and screams “MOMMY YOU WON!!!” You know what? He’s right. I did win.