As I sat on the bus at 5:45 a.m., I was reminded that the next several hours were going to come down to believing I could do it … I would do it … I was going to run a marathon.
Despite the weather forecast, my anxiety disappeared the day before the race (perhaps recounting the Top 10 Reasons I would not let the forecast mar my marathon experience was the outlet my nerves needed).
Grandma’s Marathon morning dawned warm and humid by Duluth standards, minimizing layers that needed to be packed for the early morning shuttle ride to the starting line. While on the bus, my friend jokingly said to me, “Better start your watch now!” because it often seemed so slow to connect during our training runs …. and I looked down and saw an empty wrist — my GPS watch was still plugged into the charger at home! I took it as a sign that time truly should not matter, and it was a reminder to be fully present during the journey that lay ahead of us that morning.
A good friend is someone who says, “Hey, do you want some company for 26.2 miles?” And then at mile 22 or so turns to you and says, “I must really love you a lot to have agreed to do this with you!” My friend had run 13 marathons, the last being 15 years earlier …. and came out of marathon retirement to help me get to the finish line of my first.
It was a brutal day for a run. It was over 70 degrees F at the start with humidity pushing 80%. The flags signaling race safety in light of the weather conditions (based on the American College of Sports Medicine’s guidelines) quickly moved from yellow by the 10K mark, to red by the halfway point, to black (signaling extreme risk for heat exhaustion) for the last 8 -9 miles of our race. We were not planning on breaking any records even on the best of weather days, and kept our pace slow and steady, walking through the aid stations that were staffed by volunteers every two miles beginning at mile 3, and then every mile beginning at mile 19, to maximize hydration, dump a cup of water or two overhead, and stuff ice cubes in the sports bra to help with the heat that was inescapable.
As we left the aid station at mile 25, there was no more stopping, and we picked up the pace, just wanting to be done! Words were few, as we focused on the last turns to the finish line. I could feel a burst of emotion seeing that arch of balloons marking the finish line, with Duluth’s iconic lift bridge looming in the background. Partners in training and partners with hands jubilantly raised as we crossed the finish line together in 5 hours, 15 minutes — on a day that many seasoned marathoners said was one of their toughest, due to the warm temperatures and high humidity.
She believed, so she did ….
Ciao! ~ Kat
This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. “Partners” is this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here: Partners.