Yesterday morning I barely choked down my peanut butter bagel and hot cup of tea while I nursed Betty. The butterflies woke up in full force and I tried to keep my mind clear for the race ahead. How could it really be a year ago that we ran the Broad Street Run? That day last year it was 90 degrees, humid, and I was pregnant and didn’t even know it! Now my sweet Betty had no idea I was about to leave her for half of the day to do the same thing over again.
What a gorgeous day it turned out to be! Perfect skies, perfect temperatures, perfect everything! Matthew signed me up the day the race opened… Betty was less than a week old, and I thought, “This is nuts!” The person I am proud of the most is my sister-in-law Heidi, who told us to sign her up and she would do it. So, we both started the journey of training for May 1st. Matt really is a great coach. We tease him, but when it comes down to it, I think we would agree that neither of us could have or would have done this without him. He made training schedules for us (which I didn’t stick to terribly well) and he made it possible for me to run as much as possible. He also led by example.
The day before the run my friend Ashley called me and it worked out that she met us and ended up running with me the whole way. Then Matthew, Heidi, Will & Rebecca ran together. I honestly just wanted to finish. I thought it would be cool if I didn’t stop running, but wasn’t counting on being able to do that. It was so encouraging to have a friend to run with, and we talked for the first 7 miles. At mile 4 we swung into a McDonalds to use the bathroom (since the porta-potty situation at the start line is pretty insane). Other than that stop, I ran the whole way. Around the 6 mile mark there are crowds and crowds of people cheering you on, and lots of kids saying, “Go, Mom!” Former Governor and Mayor, Ed Rendell, was there on the side of the street and I gave him a high five. My first brush with fame. Then, after 7 miles I told Ashely I wanted to quit. My legs were feeling cramped up and I was tired of hitting the pavement. There’s a stretch between 7 and 9 miles that is really hard. I put my music on and tried to think enduring thoughts.
My mind has a circle of friends and family that I think about and pray for while I run. It’s as if my brain shoots their faces to my minds’ eye the second my feet hit the ground. I think of our friends Scott & Stephanie who would probably be running this race if they could. I think of Matthew and how badly I want to tell him that I finished without stopping, even though every fiber in my legs is telling me to do just that. I think of my family, each one of them, and the encouraging words I’ve received from them. I imagine different faces in the crowd are cheering ME on so I keep going. I’m wearing a pink shirt and I don’t have to hear my name to know that “Go pink!” is aimed at me, so I keep going. I think of each of my kids and I know they’ll ask if I won. A win is to finish, so I have to win. I keep going. Then mile 9 comes into view and I know I’ll kick myself now if I start to walk. The crowd starts getting thicker along the sidelines as the finish is near. At a quarter mile we pass underneath the Naval Yard gates and I hear the song in my ipod playing, Viva la Vida, “Live the Life”. “I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing…” and I think of my friend Amy. I make eye contact with the individuals in the crowd and am overwhelmed by the realization that so many came out to live life together today. I’m grinning ear to ear and crying at the same time. I see the finish line and all of a sudden nothing hurts anymore and I finish WELL. It is exhilarating.
Ashley sprinted on ahead the last mile but she waited for me at the end and we rejoiced in eachother’s accomplishment. After stretching and refueling, we made our way to the finish line to watch the rest of our team cross. It was just as exhilarating to see Matthew sprint across the finish, turn around with the camera and shoot some pictures of Heidi, Will & Rebecca (and Ava in the stroller) holding hands as they too finished WELL. We screamed, we cheered, we celebrated life. Today we’re alive, so let’s live!