I felt the pain rippling through my feet and legs. It was like my muscles were passengers trying to jump ship, realizing that the vessel was about to go down. But I was the captain here, and I wasn’t going to let my ship sink. I continued to push through the pain.
“When you get to the finish line, it will all be over,” I encouraged myself. But, damn, this hill wasn’t helping and the finish line was nowhere in sight. I kept getting text updates from my friends who had finished and I was losing hope quickly, despite my ongoing self-encouragement. As I made the turn for mile ten, I gulped Gatorade with a desperation only bested by the desperate manner in which Jesus drank from the sponge of vinegar whilst hanging from the cross. Only 3.1 to go.
I kept running, trying to erase the image of a woman who was old enough to be my grandmother relieve herself on the side of the course. Ahead of me lay the infamous MLK Drive. I have no idea what it is about this place, but every time I run on this particular street, I cry. Whether from desperation, pain, or the grueling knowledge that this is a straight three mile track, I can’t decipher. All I know is that I make that turn, and the tears commence. And for once, I hold them back. I control them because I know I’ve come this far and that I really have nothing to cry about. I made the decision to run this race myself. I signed the release and paid the $90 myself. So what was I crying for?
I flashed back to a five mile training run, where I came in contact with a paraplegic. We made eye contact and I saw a hint of yearning in the glare of that man. I pondered what it would feel like to not have the ability to run on these aching limbs. Probably better than how I feel now!
At mile 12, my brother’s friend Vaughn found a baggie of gummy bears on the ground.
“How gross!” I said. But when he offered, I was so delirious that I took one, two, six, of the fruity snacks.
“These are disgusting,” I said between ragged breaths. I took another gummy bear.
The finish line is coming!
I look up and running next to me are people who are running twice as fast as I am. I’m not discouraged, though. I push through and try to finish strong.
Crossing the finish line was not as marvelous as I had planned.
I look around and my best friend Kelly is waiting for me on the side, wrapped in her little aluminum foil blanket, a sign of victory. We hug for longer than socially acceptable for two women in a platonic relationship. But what the hell? We had just run 13.1 miles.
“I can’t believe we did that!” I scream to Kelly.
We get our medals together and line up for our goody bags.
The septa ride home is an interesting one. I learn how to walk down stairs when you’re in a large amount of pain and that you always need someone to help you get dressed after you finish the race.
All in all, my post-race is not that interesting, however I did get to spend it with my best friend. I would qualify this as our biggest adventure yet.