Happy to say I completed another marathon. And what a fun experience!
Yesterday I ran the AACR Philadelphia Marathon.
Which was a miracle. The day before the marathon, the worst thing could’ve happened: I tweaked my easily tweakable back.
Devastated, I walked like my spine was a question mark – that stood above the idea of running 26.2 miles the next day.
When I woke, my back was still sore.
But after spending months and MILES getting to THE day, there was going to be little that was going to stop me from at least trying.
My plan? Try to run as far as I could.
The first half of the Philadelphia Marathon is run around the city itself. Which is a real treat. If you know where to look, you can see a lot of the historical features of the city.
When we ran through the historical district, Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross were outside cheering the runners on and ringing a bell. Near them, the Liberty Bell.
Running through South Street we were cheered on by the Mummer’s.
Running further into the city we race passed the Universities and where we are offered cups of beer by the local fraternity houses.
We end our city tour around mile 14 and pass in front of the Art Museum, picturing Rocky jumping up and down at the top after his training for success.
The good news for me, was that yes, my back was still sore. But at that point everything was a bit sore – so the back pain just blended in. I did not stop. I forged ahead.
The second half of the marathon is to run down to nearby town and back.
Running through the city streets, you didn’t feel the weather as much. But once out of the city, the course runs alongside of the Schuylkill River. Where there is a lot of WIND and COLD.
Runner’s begin to drop out. They are turning around and walking back. Some with sad looks, some with grimaces of pain. Some runner’s drop, literally, to the ground with a friend standing over them. Occasionally there is a puker. Lots stop to walk for a while.
As I ran farther, the wind got mightier. It blew me forward, it pushed me back. At times, it swirled around me making my hair go up to the sky.
At mile 17, my legs were dead. Lateral movement was gone. I was stuck with the same stiff stride. Feeling like I was pulling my tree stump legs through sludge. I watched runners drop around me and knew I would be justified if I chose to drop. But I didn’t want that end. I ran on.
In the last leg of the journey, at mile 23, my right Achilles tendon began to feel very hot and heavy on the inside. Like a great big ball of liquid heat was sitting under my skin on the tendon. I do not know what the pre-stages of rupturing one of those felt like, but figuring I had made it that far, I wasn’t going to have the thing blow on me. So, I stopped and stretched.
Back in action again, the pain didn’t come back until mile 25. A quick stretch and then I changed my stride to accommodate the discomfort.
Then to the finish line.
The finish line can be a unique experience. It is the place where everyone has worked for, in all the training miles and all the miles in the race. When you see that sign “FINISH LINE” you just want to cross it.
Not only do I want to cross it, I want everyone else that made it that far to cross the line.
My dad comes to every race with me, and is a spectator of the finish line as he waits, for hours, to see me come.
He witnesses all the runners as they come to this point. He witnesses runners go down before the line and their struggle to successfully cross, by themselves or with the aid of other runners. Yesterday, he saw various runners at different times go down before the line. One fell unconscious. Spectators jumped the barriers to give the man CPR until the medics could arrive.
My biggest hope is that the medics wheeled him across the finish line to give him a finish.
On my descent to the finish line I stopped to assist a runner who yelped in pain from a cramp and was grimacing as he breathed. He made it that far – if he needed help across the line I was going to help him get there. Neither of us were going to win the thing. We were just out to complete our goal: run a marathon.
Eventually he told me he would be okay, so I nodded and crossed the line. I turned to see if he made it and he was right behind me.
And we both collected our medals.
Today, my back and legs are sore, as expected. I look at stairs with great trepidation.
But I loved my marathon experience and am excited for the next one!
Oh! How did I do? Okay. Not my best, not my worst. Just happy to run!
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