Thursday, April 26, 2018

Smiling through a marathon

I finished my 10th marathon and.....

qualified for the Boston Marathon!

My Bible study friends truly are the best.  Love moments with these gals.

Beautiful weather made for a great soccer weekend for Collin.

On Saturday, I stood at the starting line.  Temperatures lingered in the 40s without an ounce of wind or rain.  God provided perfect race conditions. 

I stretched and mumbled to myself, "This is fun. You shouldn't be nervous."

Yet, I couldn't stifle the nerves as I was about to embark on my 10th marathon.

The race director fired the gun and the crowd surged forward.  I fell in line with a pacer and a group of like-paced runner. 

Within the first few miles, we had exchanged life stories.  One woman flew in from Miami.  She was a former tri-athlete trying her hand at marathons.  Michelle, a teacher and mother of three, was no stranger to the marathon with a handful of successful races under her belt.  A Jessica, a runner/walker, fluctuated between running and walking with an impressive degree of success.

Keith, the pacer, graduated from IU (albeit almost 20 years after my graduation).  Despite our (glaring) age difference, Keith and I swapped stories and grumbled about the Hoosier sports programs.  By mile 13, we joked about being added to each other's Christmas card lists.

Halfway through the marathon, I was beginning to tire.  I pulled back on my trusty headphones and blared my Spotify running playlist, familiar tunes with quick beats. 

Our pace group dwindled to three people.  Michelle waned.  The Miami runner fell behind.  Keith handed off the pacer baton to a new runner.  This fellow appeared a bit more scattered and less social.

I made a commitment to just stay on course.  Focus on the music.  Another runner told me to smile.  He said that smiling tricks your body into feeling better.  So I smiled like a fool.  In my head, I said, "I'm so happy to be running" while gritting my teeth and second-guessing every word.

By mile 23, I passed Chris.  He held up his cell phone.  Collin and Connor's picture filled the screen.  Seeing them spurring me forward.

At mile 24, I smiled harder.

At mile 25, I authentically smiled.  The race was almost done.

At mile 26, I beamed. 

At mile 26.2, I nearly cried happy tears.  I completed the race with a Boston Qualifier for 2019.  My husband smiled at me and pulled me into his arms. I didn't have to trick my body into being happy anymore; I was legitimately thrilled. 

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