Back when we were in college, attempting to make beer floats on Chapel Wing of Francis Hall while watching the original run of Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place, my friend Linda and I never imagined something like this. Never in my dreams of what was possible for me would I think, let alone believe, I could do one freaking hard trail marathon — 26.2 miles at Letchworth State Park. Linda never thought she’d be running, either. And it actually was through running that we reconnected in our post-college years. Linda was one of the volunteers at the Sehgahunda Trail Marathon on Saturday. She has never done this particular race, but had (or was able to procure) lots of answers to my questions and calm my fears. I am so grateful for her emails during the week leading up to the race, my frantic text messages the day before and for being out there on the course.
This is not my official race report. That will come tomorrow. This is my gratitude report — a brief thank you to the people who helped me tackle and finish one of the hardest things I have ever done:
Who doesn’t start with mom and dad? They were my support team at the race, showing up at two of the checkpoints, one unexpectedly. They gave me a huge mental and emotional boost. And Gatorade.
The park rangers at the Mt. Morris Dam. This is where the race started and I went there to check it out and ask a few logistical questions. The two women on duty cheered for me when I told them I was running the marathon. They were upbeat and awesome and reminded me that the truly amazing thing was showing up. (P.S. The Mt. Morris Dam is also a recreational site and way cool. I am planning a day trip soon to properly check it out.)
The random volunteer at Checkpoint 2 who coached me through my first real meltdown. I started crying at the checkpoint not so much because it was hard and hot but because I really wanted to make the cutoffs and doubt decided to try and play with me a bit. The random volunteer put her hand on my back and told me how strong I looked, what great shape I was in and that I could do it. It was the typical buck-up-the-runner speech, but her tone and sincerity made all the difference.
My friends. They were all supportive, but special shout outs go to Tara (who called me from her vacation the day before to help give me perspective check), Mary (who endured my text messages at 6 in the morning on the race day) and Nick and Tracy. Nick and Tracy both summoned the wisdom of ultra marathon runner Dean Karnazes: “Run when you can, Walk if you have to, Crawl if you must. Forward Motion!” I thought of that many, many times on the course, particularly the uphills when I wanted to stop. Just. Keep. Moving. The mantra got me through.