Tomorrow after work I leave to conquer my next marathon. The marathon I have been training for in the heat and humidity of the summer in North Carolina. The marathon in the middle of nowhere Idaho. Yep, Idaho. The marathon I’m taking two red-eye flights to run in. I’m crazy, aren’t I?
But more importantly, (or scarily) this will be my first half-marathon or full marathon where I am completely alone (except for the other runners, of course). I have always had either a running partner or a supporter at every half- or full marathon I have run.
That’s something isn’t it? For all 9 half-marathons and 6 full marathons I have had someone physically present with me. And I remember every instance of support at each of those races.
Ellie and Kim flew to Boston with me to be my cheering squad when I ran the Boston Marathon catching my attention out of the mobs of supporters around mile 17 and again at 25. Ellie was the one who pretty much carried me back to the hotel when I was so physically and emotionally drained after that race–the pain (both physical and emotional) is some of the worst I have ever experienced.
Anthony flew to San Diego with me so I could run the San Diego Marathon with Team in Training. He ran up the steepest hill with me when I told him I wanted to walk, and allowed me to give him a disgustingly sweaty and salty kiss every time I saw him on the course.
Cheryl, Jennie, and Anthony stood out in the rain to cheer for me during the Hokie Half-Marathon. Over one and a half hours in the rain! Just to give a shout as I ran by.
My mom drove with me to Hilton Head when I got the desire to do a half-marathon in the middle of February one year. It started raining during that race, too.
Samantha signed up for a 5K in Sugarland, Texas when I decided I wanted to run a marathon there so she would have something to do for the first 30 minutes of a nearly 4 hour race for me. When I started crying because my quads hurt so bad, she ran beside me to the finish line for the last half mile.
When I ran the NYC Marathon with over 50 mile per hour winds at the start, I had a cadre of virtual followers cheering me on along the way and posting to Facebook while Anthony attempted to see me at 3 different spots where I missed him every time.
Shawn, Bob, and Anthony all drove down to Wrightsville Beach with me earlier this year to be my support squad, and Shawn ran the last 16 miles with me to try to help me re-qualify for Boston which I missed by 4 minutes.
I am SO incredibly blessed to have the family, friends, boyfriend, and support network that I do. These loved ones put up with my crazy running addiction. They wake up at 4am with me to prep for a race. They drive and fly all over the U.S. to cheer me on. They help me untie my shoes after a race when I am too sore to sit down and untie them myself. They put up with months of endless training and simply nod when I swear I will not be racing again for a long time after each marathon (knowing full well that I will likely sign up for another race before I even get home).
How in the world did I get so lucky? How in the world did I wind up with so many wonderful people who love and care for me?
So, while I know that I will be alone in the physical sense while I am running 26.2 miles in Pocatello, Idaho on Saturday morning, I know that all of these amazing people will be cheering for me in their hearts.
I have no idea how I will do on Saturday. That is the truth. The elevation at the start is 4,000 feet. The course drops 1,500 feet over the 26.2 miles. I have never run that distance at that elevation, and I have never run that far at a slight downhill. All I can do is my best, and I know that my virtual cheering squad will be proud of me no matter what happens.
I think the hardest part will be going back to an empty hotel room with no one to celebrate or commiserate with about the trials and tribulations I faced when I ran 26.2 miles. Because they all listen when I talk on and on about what happened and how I felt at what mile and they never tell me that they have heard enough. Because that is what loved ones do. And that is yet another reason why I am so incredibly lucky.
Wish me luck. I am scared to death. GULP.