Thursday, November 3, 2011

A runner's high

Last Sunday afternoon, shortly after 2pm, I crossed the finish line of the 36th Marine Corps Marathon.

I've been going back and forth on whether to write a recap of the race, partly because, well, race recaps are kind of dull. I mean, how can you break down 26.2 miles of running into a narrative? Here, I'll give it to you in one sentence: It was really, really hard.

It was the proverbial blood, sweat, and tears, though not necessarily in that order. Twenty-six point two miles is relatively far; so far, in fact, that after a certain point the slightest bit of positive energy would send a ripple effect of motivation through my brain, making it possible to continue putting one foot in front of the other for almost six hours.

Just after mile 21, I took off my sneakers. I'm not going to go into gory detail, but there was blood, and wearing shoes became excruciatingly painful, so I took them off. After all, it was my feet, not my shoes, that would get me there. I'll be honest; at the time, it kind of sucked. It slowed me down considerably, and my socks were a sticky, wet mess. It was humbling as hell. But as I approached the finish line at the Iwo Jima Memorial in the final 0.2 miles, I felt a wave of gratefulness—to my body, to everyone who'd given me their kind words of encouragement, and to my mind for putting my mild discomfort in the proper perspective.

One more sentence: It was magic.