Race starting lines are one of my favorite places on earth.
The energy and excitement of a race just before the start is something I want to bottle and take with me wherever I go. In some ways it is a very holy place – regardless of how you see a higher power. Filled with the energy of the collective human spirit. There is prayer and hope and fear and nervousness.
For one small sliver of time, we do not move forward and we cannot go backward. There is only a starting mat and miles to go before we finish.
Part of why this energy is so palpable is because of the tiny moments each person took to get them to that line.
For me – the starting line of this Saturday’s Baltimore Marathon started four years ago on those very streets. On October 13, 2012 I took my place for the first leg of my company’s relay team. I was a last minute addition to the team after another member had to withdraw late in the game and I had barely run three miles before I took her spot. In that moment, I was so nervous about letting my co-workers down who had been training for weeks.
But there I stood. And I clearly remember thinking – maybe one day, I can run another marathon. Maybe I can be part of all of this running energy again. And that little thought, that little voice carried me to right now.
I signed up for 5ks, 10ks, and eventually a half marathon the next year. I got up and trained and ran and ran, with each step thinking – I have no idea if I can run that far again. And eventually, I did.
I joined MRTT, so scared I wouldn’t find anyone like me. But every Saturday morning, and sometimes other days too, I put myself in the car (even when I didn’t want to) and ran with my new friends. Wondering if I’d ever keep up with them. And eventually, I did.
I found the right gear and the right shoes and sparkle skirts and training plans.
I racked up medal after medal after medal.
I set goals I made and set goals I fell short of again and again.
With every step – I got a little closer to that 26.2 starting line.
And this Saturday, that little voice will finally have her day. I’ve put in the training. I have a plan. And a goal. And I will toe up to that starting line knowing I am ready to get through whatever 26.2 miles can throw at me.
Not only will I stand at that starting line, but I will cross the finish line. And you better believe – there will be some serious ugly tears to go with that medal.