Snapshot of my marathon experience…

Always go through the gear checklist YOURSELF before leaving for a race event. David and I rushed out the door, but needed to turn around when I realized my headphones were still charging. Thankfully, we weren’t too far down the road, but helpful for the nerves.

Standing in ~40 degrees for about an hour waiting for your corral to start is COLD. Now I know why I saw people running laps around the parking lot at the Teton Half Marathon, and why people thrift store shop the day before to discard clothing along the course. In that cold, cattle-like corral, I met another mother runner. She was a seasoned marathoner, and her excitement for my first marathon sent my feet flying across the starting line.

Running on asphalt does not equal running on pavement. OUCH! My knees felt like I hiked to Phantom Ranch and back five times in five hours. #neveragain

Having my family between miles 16 & 18 was the most encouraging and loving act. I ran past the landmark I thought my Mom, Dad, and brother (Andrew) were going to be waiting and didn’t see them… oh, why. The emotions of disappointment were about to flow out, but then. Then I saw the REAL waiting point with each of their smiling faces, and cheers pushing me into the last 10 miles. It was the best feeling that only got better after seeing David, Owen, Ben (brother), Mireille (sister in law), and Lucas (nephew). If someone close to you is crazy enough to run a marathon, go wait along the course to cheer them on. They will carry that act with them through the finish line.

Today marks the 8th day on the other side of my first marathon. It’s all still surreal. As if it never happened; that running a marathon is still a distant, long held dream. The reality is that I’m done. I’ve done what I set out to do–run 26.2 miles.

When the idea of running a marathon floated across my horizon, my response was, “Huh. I wonder what that would feel like… I wonder if my body could run 26.2 miles…” At that point in my life I had zero notion of pace, how long it takes to run one mile, and absolutely NO idea how many minutes 26.2 miles would eat. Today, I found zero notion again–my first post marathon run without all the tech gadgets, not even a watch. Only me, Libby (best furry running friend, BFRF), and the dirt under my feet. This was my transition run to move out of marathon training and into pure running joy.

This run was also healing. After I crossed the finish line, disappointment slowly sunk in. It was a loss of anticipation, but a fulfillment of a decade long dream, and a completion of 303 training days. Post race blues are a very real thing. They remind me of the blues after giving birth. There is such an incredible amount of joy, but a longing for those little baby kicks. Now, I long for the runs that push me to my max–the farthest I’ve ever run.

About day four of the other side, I noticed a heavy weight lifted. All the “I have to”-s and “I need to”-s associated with a training cycle evaporated when I crossed the finish line. THAT has been a cozy, warm bed of contentment the past eight days. Even when I left my own cozy house to run through the woods this morning.

What I’ve learned from running is far better than the two finisher medals hanging on my dresser. There is  nothing quite like running fast and hard when I’m angry. Then tripping, face meeting the ground, and crying out to God about what made me angry. There is nothing like the conversations my best running friend (BRF) and I have held out on the trail. Cori and I have seen each other at our best and our worst. We’ve been patient, gracious, loving, and competitive with each other. A friendship forged on the trails is not easily broken. Thank you for all the miles, Cori. I’ve learned that technical terrain has a special warm spot in my heart. There is nothing like slowing your movement and breathing to scramble over boulders. My own brand of running yoga.

Maybe the most extraordinary realization is that my body is made for more than doing dishes, cleaning bottoms, and sweeping floors. My body is a long distance runner. I LOVE being a wife, mom, cook, and baker. I love managing my home, but I’m also an artist, creator, and athlete. I love those attributes and respect them more than I did before the 26.2 miles.

Today, I rest in fulfillment of my goal set back in February. The finish line is a completion, but not an end. Running has more to show me and I have more to show it.

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