My time is listed fifth from the bottom of all of the runners.
I still got a medal.
It sits on my piano as a reminder that it doesn't matter how long it takes to get the thing. Get the thing.
It took three tries to complete the marathon. The first time, I had to stop training because I hurt my knee. The second time, I quit training because it was too much with my workload.
The third, and final time, I decided that I would cross the finish line or die.
This is not hyperbole. I would cross the finish line, or Mitch would tell the Boys that the funeral was in two days. One or the other.
I trained to finish. I ate right, ran the appropriate miles and rested as I was supposed to.
The day of the race came and I started my @&)_)#&ing period.
The run takes you over the Ambassador Bridge, over the Detroit River into Canada (Led Zeppelin's Kashmir on a loop took me through this), through Canada for about five miles, and then through the Canadian/American underground tunnel for a mile.
I am hella claustrophobic.
That mile was the fastest mile of the race. David Naughton's Makin' It on a loop carried me through the tunnel.
By Mile 18, I was done. My uterus decided that today was a good day for me to experience the full abundant glory of menstruation, I was disgusted by the outhouses, I hurt ev.ree.where, and oh by the way where was my funeral going to be? Would Mitch remember to ask for the prosthetic in my arm, a titanium rod that would survive the heat in the crematorium?
Then, a blonde man smile/yelled at me. He was a volunteer cheering the runners on.
We locked eyes, and he ran next to me, and said these words:
It counts. When you cross the finish line, no matter what the time is, it counts. And it will change your life.
You can do this.
I repeated those words for five miles.
But by Mile 23, after Belle Isle and during the run on the Riverfront, I wondered if I could do it. Each step was agony.
People use that word--agony--quite casually.
Every step felt like hot iron horseshoe nails were being shoved into my soles, and the pain radiated through my legs, reverberated in my knees, and then exploded in every square millimeter of my thighs.
With every step. For miles.
My toes were bleeding and I was sure I had lost a nail. My chest hurt so bad I was certain I would die from a heart attack.
I wanted to stop with every particle of my being.
And then I saw the bus.
At every race, there is a bus that follows the runners in case they pass out or are in distress in some way.
If you get on the bus, you automatically get a DNF.
Did Not Finish.
There was no effing way I was getting a DNF. But the bus was behind me, and I was approaching the time limit for completing the race, as well as my own personal limits within the race itself.
I remembered my promise. I would complete this, or die.
I ran/shuffled/slid exactly three more miles with that stupid bus coming in and out of my peripheral vision.
I turned the final corner.
There was a steep hill.
Someone had put a 30° grade cement hill there.
That was it.
I burst into tears.
I couldn't do it. I could not take one more step. Not one more.
A person behind me came around the corner, saw the hill and shouted, Who the f$&@ put that there?
That was exactly what I needed. A bunch of us who clearly had given up started laughing.
Then, a construction worker cheerily said, "Hey, you're at the end! 200 yards and you're done!'
200 yards? Ok, I can do that.
And I dragged my behind over the hill and around the corner right along with a few others who were exhausted as well.
And there, I saw the finish line.
I did it in 6:39:49.
More importantly, I did it.
That man was right, by the way. It did change my life.