It started innocently enough. Just a question posed by Chiropractor.
"So, do you want to try for one more marathon? Just to prove you can still do it?"
Then he laid out the rules. Really there was just one rule - if at any time, he said stop, I had to stop.
And that was that.
I went home from his office, walked in the door, to the computer, and registered for a marathon.
That was May 10.
What followed was the hardest work I have ever done.
Everything about training was long. Run time. Recovery time. Ice time. Brace time. Physical therapy time.
Everything about training was hard. Physically pushing myself past the limits that had been placed there. Mentally working though the doubt and the fear and the nerves.
Everything about training was secret. I've never been one to really talk about my running, but this had an added dimension of secrecy. At any moment, the plug could have been pulled. It seemed silly to tell even my staunchest supporters that I was planning to run a marathon when there was the very real possibility that the very next day I would have to say oh, um, nevermind.
So it was just me (with Hubby's unwavering support), hunkered down, trying to make this happen. Day in and day out. Running, working, hoping.
Until finally, there was just one week to go.
There had been some bumps along the way; a few little setbacks. A few runs that I really though were going to be deal breakers.
But I still hadn't been told No.
Two days before race day, I went to see Chiropractor one last time. There was still every chance he could say no. But he didn't. He said go.
And I finally let myself believe that it was really going to happen.
So I packed my bags, and off I went. I had a marathon to run on October 16.
Race day dawned rainy. And my knees were aching before I even left the hotel.
Hubby drove me to the start, and we joined the masses, finding a quiet corner of the YMCA to rest and stretch and calm nerves. Because I was nervous. And scared. And worried. So much could go wrong if I didn't do everything just right.
With about 30 minutes to race time, I was making my way to the bathroom line(just one more time). As I was working through the crowds of people moving in out of the still falling rain, I noticed one face in the masses. One very familiar face. UB, who has been with me through absolutely every step of my running, had come to see me off. Big hugs and a few tears and a sigh of relief later, I looked over and saw Hubby smiling at us.
With 15 minutes to go, the three of us made our way toward the start. When we had to part ways, UB said to me "Run with your head!"
I found my place on the line, the gun went off, and I started to run. The rain was still falling, as it would for the first few miles. And I could tell right away that my knees were going to have some problems. But I just kept repeating UB's words - run with your head.
And that's what I did. I thought about why I had worked all summer and all fall and about what I really wanted to do with the day. It all came down to one word. Run. It was that simple.
So I ran. I settled in and ran. I ran and did not stop. I waved at UB and Hubby. I thanked volunteers handing out water and Gatorade and orange slices. I thanked strangers along the course who yelled out "good job!" I looked around at just how beautiful the course was, all dressed up for fall, with the sun finally peeking through the clouds. I smiled. And I smiled. And I smiled.
And in a flash, it was over. Twenty-six point two miles. Done.
I never even looked at the clock. Not once during the whole run. I still haven't looked at the official results. I really don't plan to. I accomplished everything I went there to accomplish. And I don't need any numbers to tell me that.
Three years ago, I was told I'd never run another marathon; that it was now impossible for me. But my dad once told me that "impossible" just means that it takes a little longer.
I was so happy to prove my dad right.