26.2

On Sunday, May 15, I ran a marathon. Twenty six and two-tenths miles.

I had myself a bit of a cry right before the gun went off. So did my friend with whom I was running. We were both incredibly nervous, excited and ready to get the show on the road. We had been training for this specific race for more than 4 months, although training to be able to train for this race had taken more than a year. See my running story here.

Teary-eyed before the race

The first couple miles were quick, but I knew we had a long road ahead of us. I was having a lot of negative thoughts, and I quickly tried to reverse them into positive ones.

Running through the small neighborhoods of Ohio City and Tremont (miles 7 through 10), I started to gain my stride. We headed back to Cleveland, going over the Carnegie bridge, a mile-long bridge joining Ohio City and downtown.

The last time we ran the bridge was July 2010 during a four mile race, A Shot in the Dark. At that time, we had never run more than 3.1 miles and had to stop and walk after the three-mile mark. This time, we were approaching mile 11 and had more courage and strength in us than ever before.

A big moment was seeing the sign that separated the half-marathoners from the full-marathoners. Back when Elisa and I ran the Columbus half marathon in October 2010, this was a moment I remember quite vividly. I remember being so relieved when I saw that sign, knowing I only had another two-tenths of a mile to go. This time, I had more than 13 ahead of me.

Right then is the first time (besides at the start line) I saw my personal cheer squad. My mom, sister, and friends all ran out of a Starbucks and started waving their arms, cheering and snapping pictures. I felt great, so I did a little dance. I was halfway there!

Feelin' good

Then started the lonely journey through the second half of the race.

Miles 15 through 20 were very desolate. Not a lot of people were out cheering, I’m guessing due to both the cold rainy weather and the dangerous area of Cleveland we were running through.

We saw our cheer squad at mile 21 and for the first time in the race, I choked back tears. I was tired and just wanted to stop. I could see the look on my face was upsetting my mom too. But I couldn’t help it. I was starting to hit the wall.

Right around that time was when Elisa received a text from our friends running the Pittsburgh marathon saying they had finished. We still had about an hour to go, but hearing they had finished was inspiration to keep going.

The next few miles were a blur. Elisa and I didn’t run right next to each other, although we were never more than a few paces away. I concentrated on my music and just looking ahead. At one point, I didn’t even pay attention to the people cheering. I started repeating phrases in my head and telling myself not to give up.

When we turned down East 9 and saw the 26 mile marker, I knew I was going to finish. Elisa and I broke into a sprint when we saw the finish line and I caught sight of our cheer squad.

We crossed the line holding hands with our arms in the air. We separated for a second to get our medals around our necks and then looked at each other and burst into tears.

Finishing strong

We dedicated four months of our energy, time and love toward the game of running. We ran through snow, rain, sleet, wind and heat. We got sunburned, blistered and chaffed. We threw up and laid in someone’s lawn trying to regain the strength to keep walking. We laughed, we cried, we talked, we were quiet. We high-fived every Saturday morning when we completed our run.

We never once said we didn’t think we could do it. We never left the other to go on by ourselves. We shared moments warming up or cooling down with coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts where we relived every run, every fear, every thought we had about the impending race. It all came down to this one moment where we conquered something we never thought we could.

“Success isn’t how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.”

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