Both times I ran the Des Moines Half Marathon, on basically the same course (with minor changes to the start and finish due to construction), the distances were the same, but the races were totally different. Last year I felt almost giddy the entire time, and this year I was emotional. Last year, I got tears in my eyes during the Star Spangled Banner at the start of the race, while that didn't affect me hardly at all this year. What did get me were two signs. One was close to the start and said "I don't know you but I am so proud of you". The one that really got the waterworks flowing was inside of a mile from the finish line and said, "The person who is finishing this race is not the same person who started". I'm really glad I was wearing sunglasses.
Last year I ran with my sister, Jeanie, and this year with my daughter, Erin - and I couldn't be prouder of both of them. We all trained hard; many hours and many miles, and we have the medals to show it. (But as our friend Steve asked, "Is this one of those things were everyone gets a medal?" I told him yes, but you actually had to finish.)
Being surrounded by over 10,000 athletes was incredibly uplifting. Again - hours and hours and miles and miles of training. Multiply what I put in by 10,000 (and even more for those running the full marathon), and it's fairly mind-boggling. What is more inspiring are the different ages and body types represented. There was an old lady who was wearing jeans and an old guy in trousers. There are the Kenyans, who run sub-five minute miles FOR 26 MILES without looking like they're even working, there are those who just "look" like runners, and then there are the rest of us. You wouldn't look at me and think, "Runner". You would think "My, she's awfully sturdy". But you know what? I have two half marathon medals.
|Guy in front of me at the start - check out that tat. He is running his TENTH marathon!|
I can't thank our support team enough - Dwight, Tim, Emily, Tony, Katie, and Riley the dog (in her party necklace).
They were there at four different points with loud cheering, Twizzlers, and the best signs! They were so good (and this is my favorite story from the race) that one lady told them her 65-year-old dad was running his first marathon and didn't feel very good, and would they mind staying and cheering him on? Of course they stayed, and I guess Mike was pretty surprised to see all of these random strangers yelling for him! That is the thing about marathons - it's just a feeling of - for lack of a better word - oneness. If you have the opportunity to be a spectator, by all means, GO. You will never know how much your support for people you don't even know will mean to them. And bring a cowbell and some silly signs. You know the only cure is more cowbell...
Here are some photos from our official race photographer (and best husband ever):
|About halfway through and feelin' pretty good|
|Might be a smile. Might be a grimace. I know I was crying by then.|
|Two happy and hurty women!|