Marathon musings part 2

It's 48 hours after the marathon. My legs are so tight that squatting, climbing up or down stairs, and brisk walking all make me feel as if my legs could snap off at the hip. Blisters, callouses, and bruises adorn my feet. They look more like Frodo's than my own. Running is out of the question for a few days. I attempted a jog down my street yesterday that turned out to be more of a slow shuffle. Despite all of this, I feel like smiling because I can now call myself a marathoner.

My training seemed relatively easy. My 20 miler was challenging, but I didn't struggle too much. After running all 26.2 miles, I have a new respect for marathoners. It was nothing like I expected. I mentioned in my last post that miles 22-26.2 were a great challenge, and I can't begin to tell you how much of an understatement that is. It was around mile 22 or 23 when I saw Nate for the first time since about mile 9, and when he asked how I was doing, I choked up and muttered, "awful." My body has never been through that much before. I could tell I was dehydrated, but my stomach was empty of nutrients at that point, and the more I drank at each aid station, the more I could feel my stomach bounce and make that disgusting sloshing noise that made me want to throw up. My feet throbbed, my quads burned, and my calves cramped. When the finish line was finally in sight, tears immediately filled my eyes and I let myself cry the last 25 meters. But I wasn't crying because of the pain, I cried because of the sudden sense of accomplishment: a sprinter turned marathoner.

Running can be such an emotional experience for me. Seeing 10, 000 people crowding the streets with one goal in mind: to finish, chokes me up. It's not often you see that kind of unity. At the starting line, a woman pushing a little boy in a wheelchair came alongside me wearing a shirt that read: I run because my son Thrasher can't...yet. At mile 12 my dad and I passed a young boy running with his mom. "How old are you?" my dad asked as we came alongside him. "12," he responded. 12 years old! A big race like the Lincoln Marathon is filled with inspiration that keeps you going even when you don't want to.

I had a few cheerleaders along the route. Nate and his siblings and their kids appeared on the course exactly when I needed a boost. My nieces ran alongside me about mile 21 or 22 and yelled, "Go Aunt Danielle! Run faster!" And Jim and Kristin (my running partner) were at miles 3, 15, 22, and the finish holding signs that read: Worst parade ever and Don't puke--this last one is courtesy of our head XC coach; for several seasons now, a don't puke poster shows up at just about every one of our XC meets with a few of our runners' parents. Not only did they make signs, they had shirts made for the event! AND they had goodies for both Nate and I at the finish line. They sent Nate home with a bag filled of Trader Joe's snacks, and they gave me the coolest necklace that has two charms--a silver one that reads 26.2, and a larger gold charm sits behind the silver one that has Lincoln Marathon and the date of the race engraved on it. So not only did Kristin train with me almost every Saturday and some insanely early weekday mornings, bring me Gatorade at halfway points, and listen to me babble on and on about running and teaching, she was there on race day with her husband to offer an incredible amount of support. When I saw them again at mile 22, I couldn't help but smile even when I wanted to puke.

Post marathon picture with Jim and Kristin (photo stolen from Kristin's blog!)
I told my dad I'd never run another marathon again when I crossed the finish line. But after 48 hours, I think I've changed my mind. Even if I didn't run my goal time, running a marathon is still an accomplishment like no other. Crossing that finish line is a moment I'll never forget...and that makes me want to do it all over again even if it means being stiff and sore for a week afterwards.

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