On Sunday, Mom, Andy and I ran the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, Pennsylvania. This was Mom’s tenth marathon. For Andy and me, it was number one.
We drove up to Scranton together the afternoon before. We stopped by the Expo, picked up our race numbers, had a relaxing afternoon at the hotel and then went to a nearby Italian restaurant and had an all out carb binge. Bread, pasta, beer and then topped it off with a Krispy Kreme donut (it was just across the street). The alarm went off at 5 AM and we were in a hotel shuttle taking us to the buses that would bring us to the starting line.
The school bus was dark, the windows fogged up, the hum of voices and nervous energy reverberated throughout. A man was wearing a shirt that said, “Run if you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must, but don’t give up.” Another shirt said, “Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.”
We arrived at the high school and were herded into a gymnasium where people were stretching, greasing up with Glide (to prevent chafing), applying sunblock, tightening shoelaces and dropping off their bags. We all just wanted to get going, the wait was torturous. Finally at 7:45 AM we were led to the starting line.
We started out strong, but knew that we had to hold ourselves back. Classic mistake: run too fast at the start and totally burn out before you’re even half-way.
Our first big hurdle was to get to double digits. 10 miles. Then we focused on 13.1 miles, the halfway point. Then we focused on mile 17 because we knew Dad would be waiting there to cheer us on.
After mile 17 and a few photos with Dad, we focused on hitting 20: The homestretch. After mile 20, the race started to get harder. The sun was higher in the sky, my feet started to go numb, people all around us were walking. This is when you learn that your body is stronger than your brain. Your brain says you are finished, but your body just keeps going.
Andy and I parted ways at mile 23. He had a bit more energy left in him, so I told him to go. I had been depending on his support, but running is an independent sport, you have to do what feels good to you. He told me he loved me, he was proud of me and that he’d see me at the finish.
At mile 24 I took a one-minute walk break. A woman ran past me and said, “I’ve been watching you. You can do this. Run with me. We’ll get each other across the finish line before the 5 hour mark.” I took her up on her offer. I was in so much pain, so demoralized – I needed help. I don’t even remember what we talked about, she mentioned wanting a milkshake. She was a godsend. And she got me across the finish line, as promised, in under 5 hours.
Will I do another? I’m not sure. Probably. The man’s t-shirt was right: The pain is so very temporary. The pride is forever.
Congrats on your marathon! I’m sure after you rest for a week or two you will decide to do another.
Lori @ RecipeGirl says
omg, when you mentioned that the woman had been watching you and encouraged you to finish with her, that totally made me teary. What a kind thing to do!
Congratulations!!! Will you do it again?
Way to go!
Lisa [With Style and Grace] says
Incredible and so inspiring!! Thank you for sharing your experience – congrats you three!
I so love the camaraderie that happens during a race- humanity is such a beautiful thing. Congratulations, gorgeous!
Jenn Paul says
holy crap! you go girl! that is intense! proud to call you a friend!
Congratulations to you both! What an accomplishment!
Betsy Denny says
Maggy- that is so awesome that that woman motivated and inspired you to run to the end with her! Sooo cool! and I know how needed! You are (all) amazing and inspiring! xo
As a fellow marathoner, I know that those miles HURT. And I am so so glad you had someone willing to stop, and cajole you if she had to, and you her, to get you across the line at your goal.
You are AMAZING. Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations!!! Maybe next year, we’ll be running NYC together, and you can help force me to get across the line in under 5. Last year, I did it in 5:02. :p
I so agree with the comment about the lady who encouraged you to finish, the kindness of strangers moves me in ways not many other things do.
Samantha @ Bikini Birthday says
WOW! Congratulations! I’m in awe of you. And to do your first marathon in under 5 hours? You’re a champ. You should be really really proud.
Awesome run! I bet you will do another one. There is something addicting about marathons. I am running the Colombus marathon on Sunday. It will be my 5th one. So great that you guys did it together.
Congrats to you all! That is wonderful!!! I hope you each do another one.
Sarah @ The Cyclist's Wife says
Good job girl! That’s a huge accomplishment.
P.S. A beer (or few) after the race helps relax those legs.
judy in carefree says
Congrats to you all. My daughter is a runner and did Boston last spring and qualified and will run again in April 2012. I could never do it, but am so very proud of those of you who do. Again, congrats!
Very impressive. Congrats! That is quite an accomplishment. You go girl!
Woo hoo!!! Way to go!!! I wish I could get past mile 1. 😉 Great job!!!
You guys inspire me to do my first full marathon…you also inspire me to get a Krispy Kreme, but I think that’s just a craving that will pass. Way to go ladies!
Wow! What a great story, Maggy! You must have such a great sense of accomplishment! What a touching account of the woman who came along side you to encourage you to finish! God bless her! As your aunt, I am so PROUD of you AND Andy. And your mom, too, of course–though this marathon thing is almost old hat with her! Love you!
Erin in PA says
Congratulations!! What an amazing feeling! I used the Couch to 5K program to run my first 5K this spring, and I ran with the Girls on the Run program – it was so amazing, I remember just bursting into tears as I crossed the finish line because I actually DID IT! I can only imagine how awesome and PROUD to finish an entire marathon!!
Brooke @ Food Woolf says
What a great story. I love how that miracle woman showed up during the last 5. You are so strong and beautiful. I’m so proud of you! Goooooooooooo!
Emily ~SoDomesticated~ says
Congratulations to all of you! Such a great and inspirational story!
Dana Booth says
That is awesome!!! Congrats to all of you!!!!