Today’s Guest Post Wednesday was written by one of my many quirky and fun-loving aunts. Some of you know that there are many, many branches to my family tree. You might also know that they are all quite quirky. This particular aunt, Lesley, also happens to be a runner. When I saw Lesley in December, she tried to get me to commit to running a marathon with her on May 1. I told her I wasn’t that kind of runner. I’m more the 5k-on-a-treadmill variety. She responded with, “Pshaw–you’ve got 18 weeks!” Exactly. Here Lesley writes about her first marathon.
I ran my first ever marathon in Gettysburg recently, the North-South Marathon. There were 1000 signed up and the weather was perfect for running: not sunny and hot, but cloudy and cool. It did not rain until the race was pretty much over. There were rolling hills, plenty of water/Gatorade stops and spectators along the way to give you the energy and encouragement you needed. I ran with my sister. My sister-in-law jumped in at the half-way point and ran with us for an extra boost of encouragement. My goal was to just finish the marathon in under 6 hours. Sister and I crossed the finish line together at 5 hours and 40 minutes. What an accomplishment for the both of us! We received a very nice medal and because the North “defeated” the South in the race, all North entrants received a very nice commemorative drinking glass.
But the highlight of the race for me was actually not crossing the finish line, but picking up a lone runner who, about mile 23, looked like she was done in. It was her first marathon and she was running by herself. Her name was Nicole.
At the finish line were Nicole’s parents, her sister, and her husband waiting for her. She threw up at mile 21. She was so tired, her legs hurt so much, and she wasn’t thinking she could finish. I told her that we (as in my sister, my sister-in-law, and I) would not let her quit. We would come in together. I kept encouraging her to keep moving, and my sister-in-law finally fell back and told me to go catch up with my sister; she (the SIL) would bring in Nicole. At about mile 25 the SIL catches up with me, and when I asked where Nicole was, she informed me that Nicole’s sister had come to meet her and bring her in. So, with my sister and I chugging along with the SIL’s encouragement, I met my daughter and granddaughter with about a half-mile or so to go. They jumped in to run the rest of the way with us, too. We crossed the finish line (sister and I) simultaneously after kicking butt the last stretch. Once we saw that finish line, there was nothing stopping us!!!
A few minutes later the SIL told me that Nicole was coming down home stretch. I ran to the finish line and started yelling and cheering her on and she RAN across the finish line, fell into my arms just sobbing, and then her sweet husband came and they embraced as she sobbed at the thought that she, too, completed her first marathon.
I love that this is a sport where we race AGAINST each other, but we race WITH each other. It’s a race that we want to see EVERYONE complete. What an awesome experience. I have been asked several times if I would do it again, and my answer is “Yes, but not this year.”