Yesterday was the Marine Corps Marathon and 10k. I ran (the 10k, of course – no marathons until 2010), but there was a very different feeling at the end of this race – both in finishing the 10k and in watching the marathoners. What struck me most wasn’t my time or how I did. This race was about so much more than that.
- It was about the numerous Marines who were lined up at every water stop (and elsewhere on the course), handing you a cup and cheering you on.
- It was about the vast number of runners and supporters who were there in memory of loved ones.
- It was about the final stretch up the hill to the Iwo Jima memorial that forced you to push harder than you thought you could. A hill that was hard enough on runners, and absolutely brutal on the wheelchair racers.
- It was about one of the wheelchair racers who had to pause in the middle of the hill – go back, go forward – but had a chorus of hoo-rahs! in his face, encouraging him. And about another who looked far too young to be in that position. Seeing him wasn’t the first time during the race that I got tears in my eyes.
- And it was about the Marine who was running near me, nearly the entire race, with one prosthetic leg. He was, honestly, an inspiration to keep running, even when my own legs felt like jelly. But I knew that if I did stop and walk, he’d run by and encourage me to keep going – tell me that I could keep going – because I saw him do it to so many other racers. He would jog with them a little bit, then move on to the next person who needed a little mid-race motivation.
I went into this race thinking that it would be like any other, but I was wrong. The atmosphere and the spirit of it were just different, and made me appreciate being able to be a part of it.
And now I really can’t wait for next year.