Why I’m Thankful For My First Marathon

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My first marathon was definitely a memorable one. I trained like everyone else does, intensely and strictly, so I was fully prepared when the big day came.

In Ontario, training usually takes place in a different season than the one in which you race. Yes, the weather gets warmer and warmer when you train through the winter for a spring marathon, but the Goodlife Marathon in May of 2013 was a sweltering one.

It began like all others, with a nervous start and an optimistic attitude. At the 6k mark, I was surprised by my husband and a handful of my running friends, cheering me on with funny signs and encouraging words. My parents had also stationed themselves at that corner. My dad is visually impaired and I could hear my mom telling my dad when I was approaching. I will never forget as I passed the group, hearing my dad’s voice call out “Go, kid, go!”

Well, I looked and felt great at the 6k mark, but as I neared the 10k mark, things started to decline. My Garmin stopped working, which left me panicked and out of sorts. I had an inkling at this point that the race was not going to go as planned, but I persevered.

At the 20k point, my brother-in-law was on the sidelines. His wife had run the Boston Marathon twice, so he was well-versed in the art dealing with an angry runner, but even he could not get me out of my funk. I was dehydrated, defeated and desperate.

We had arranged for one of my running friends to run me in the last 10k, and she was set up at the 32k mark with a bucket of water and cold sponges, which at that point looked like the best things I had ever seen! I completely soaked myself, drank some of the water – I had long ago finished my supply and the water stations were also out – and we set out to get through the last stretch. Well, she tried joking with me, distracting me, even bribing me, but as most long distance runners know, there is no salvation until the finish line.

Except that salvation came for me 5k before the finish. I looked up and a bunch of my running friends, my husband, my parents and my brother were all there, screaming, cheering and jumping up and down. I started crying immediately at the sight. I was saved. These were the people I loved and they would get me across the finish. In fact, a few of them literally did – they jumped onto the course and ran until there was only 1k left before they dropped off to let me finish alone.

I remember every kilometer of that race, from the terrible to the amazing. I learned much more about running – and about myself – in that race than I could ever have imagined.

Jessica BrillComment