Has it already been two weeks since I crossed the finish line of the Pittsburgh Marathon? A lot has happened since then, including an amazing trip to Europe to visit my sister. I can’t wait to tell you all about our adventures in The Netherlands and Italy, but before I do, I want to share some highlights from my second full marathon.
I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun at a race, ever. I didn’t think things would pan out that way. This was the first race where no one was waiting for me at the finish line…and the first major race I wasn’t running with my sister. I figured I’d get the race done and move on to my next race (triathlon, maybe?), no big whoop. Except that right from the beginning I didn’t feel like I was running alone. My friends and family signed up for text alerts that let them know the second I crossed certain milestones in the race, my coworkers were running the half marathon and although they weren’t along side me for the race, it was a comfort to know they were there, and, of course, I was running with thousands of other people. No matter how many races I run, I will always be in awe of completing a single, grueling task with thousands of strangers. We were all there to do one thing: finish the race. It doesn’t matter how long it took us to get to that start line or what problems we had to face or why were really there at all. What matters is that we are there, pushing ourselves to our limit. And we aren’t doing it alone.
Endurance running can often be a long, lonely sport, but in the end, it’s the community that keeps me coming back to the start line.
“Why are we doing this again?” A young female runner next to me asked. I was standing in my coral with minutes to the start, talking with the only two veteran marathon runners I could find nearby (the coral was a mixture of half, relay, and full runners).
We all laughed. Amused at our own tenacity, courage, insanity, whatever.
“Because we can,” replied the middle-aged woman next to me. “I could be in a wheel chair right now. Or going through chemo therapy. But I’m not.”
And isn’t running for 26.2 miles straight the ultimate gesture of thankfulness? Thankfulness for our health, our self-discipline, our support.
Nope, endurance running isn’t lonely. Sure, I’m the one who gets the metal at the end, but if I could give one to every person who inspired and supported me through my journey to the finish (and the start), I would. Or even better, I’d ask them to go out and try for their own metal. No matter if it’s a 5k or an ultra, finishing a race is an experience you will never forget.