Crossing the finish line was one of the most emotional moments of my life. To get there, I had to call upon something I didn't even know existed inside me. Around mile 22, it felt like my body was not physically able to carry me any further. The only thing that propelled me after that point was heart.
After training through several continuous weeks of rain and snow, we had woken up to a bright sunny day in Vancouver. Shireesha and Peregrin flew through the half marathon. Ben got struck with a gastrointestinal flu 3 days before the race which wiped him out so he wisely switched from the full to the half marathon which he ran in less than 2 hours. For the full marathon, Matt and I managed to stay together for almost the entire first half, and though it was really nice to have a partner, he and I both knew he'd finish a half hour before me. You can read Matt's account here.
What we didn't count on though was that it took each of us 30 minutes more than we'd planned. I was surprised because I had sailed through my longest training run at 20 miles. But no one told me that the miles get exponentially more difficult between 20 and 26. I was running on less than empty and the only thing you can call on to drive you forward is pure emotion. Matt had the foresight to have our names printed on our team shirts and that turned out to be important. All through the race, I could hear people shouting "Lookin' good John! You can do it John!" Those words of encouragement from strangers became more intense and appreciated the closer I got to the end.
26.2 miles. Just under 5 hours. Only 2 of the original members of Team Brawndo made it across the full marathon finish line. But we had lots of support from Robin, Kim, Darius, and Kathleen who turned up with megaphones, signs, and colored wigs to cheer us on. And of course, Ben, Peregrin, and my little Shireesha were there waiting for me as we crossed the line.
I would do it again in a second. Each week I felt a sense of accomplishment as I was able to run further and further than I ever had before. For those last six miles in Vancouver, I was alone in the universe, just me and the challenge. Running 26.2 miles is right at the edge of what is and isn't possible for most people. I feel like a different person for getting right up to that edge and then forcing myself over.