I opened the hotel curtains to find dark rainy streets. After training in nearly 100-degree weather in St. Louis, I wasn’t expecting a rainy 55-degree day. But, it didn't matter. It was marathon day. My group started with ponchos on, and after a couple minutes, we forgot about it. The trail was amazing, traveling through round metal tunnels and alongside babbling brooks. Even a jet screamed over our heads as it was landing! I took off the poncho around Mile 9 as the rain trickled down to a light mist around. Not too long after that, we turned a corner to find a moose and a calf near the trail! Cool!
I was still energized at Mile 13, and supporters were still cheering us on. Not too long after Mile 20, I was feeling some cramping in my legs. I never stopped at all, though. I just put my head up and kept on going. The time between Mile 21 and Mile 22 was an eternity. As Mile 22 passed, I felt myself breaking down and I started to cry, but kept on moving. The view of the coast was inspiring and it kept my mind busy.
At the end of Mile 25, my body was beat. Once I saw that finish line flapping in the wind, I gunned it. The announcer said my name and made some harebrained Irish remark that I can't remember, and I crossed the line in total exhaustion. They handed me my marathon medal, bottled water, and wrapped me in foil to keep warm.
Traveling to Alaska for my first marathon will truly be remembered. I could not have done this without the support of my family, friends, Coach Rich, my teammates from the Joints in Motion team and the Arthritis Foundation...and my sister, who gave me the strength to finish in her honor. As Norman D. Vaughan, the surviving member of the Byrd Antarctic Expedition, said in our Joints in Motion meeting the night before, "Dream big and dare to fail."
What will I remember most? The struggle from Mile 20 to the end. No matter how much you read about "The Wall" or how to prepare for the final few miles...it's all a true test of your mental endurance.