If I had to describe the Rockford Marathon in a haiku, it would go like this:
It started early
But not enough to escape
The hot, hot, hotness
So, spring marathons are a tricky situation. You spend a large part of your training runs in snow or, at the very least, a colder day than you’re likely to face on race day. On the Monday before the Rockford Marathon, my fingers went numb running in a cold rain that left me feeling a deep chill. By mile 15, I would have killed to feel that again. We started at 6:00 and the high for the day was supposed to be in the 70s, peeking after noon. This would have given me most of the race in the 50s or 60s – not perfect running weather, but very doable. Well, I finished 4:23.15 later (much slower than I was hoping) due, in large part, to the fact that it was over 80 degrees already by the time I finished. Woof!
So, instead of boring you with the details of the race itself (short story – two loops, few hills, very sunny, very hot), I’ll bore you with my insights during the race. Why? Because I had to give myself a pep talk and start naming all of the things I was thankful for in order to find it in me to finish. If I were to actually start naming all of those things, it would be even more boring than if I told you how I ran, so I’ll give you the abridged version:
If you had told me at 5:00 that morning that I would have run a 4:23 marathon, I would have been disappointed. I was hoping to finish at least 3:51 or quicker. But if you had told me 5 years ago that I’d run a marathon in 4:23, I would have been ecstatic. 5 years ago, right around this time, I started to actually run – run for my health, run for my family, run for my life. Before then, I had never even fathomed that I’d be able to ever run a marathon. Now I’ve run 6.
And as hard as this race was to finish strong, I finished. And the best part, my 4-year old daughter finished with me. I held out my hand, called her name, and she finished with me. I was going slow enough by that time that I knew she could keep up and I’m so glad I did that with her. She was smiling and laughing the whole way.
At the end of a long, hot, hard run, that’s exactly what I needed to give me the strength to finish with my head held high and a smile on my face. We held hands, crossed the finish line, enjoyed an apple, and waited for the rest of the family. For her, running is freedom.
Sometimes I need reminding that, even when I’m slow, even when it’s hot, even when the water is warm and the shade is scarce, that any day I can run is better than a day when I can’t.