A Second Chance
I remember this moment perfectly, I can't begin to explain how lucky I feel to have had it caught on camera. The fact that you found me and were able to share it with me only serves to preserve the sense of triumph I felt crossing that finish line.
This picture is from my third marathon and my first to come in at under 3:30. After finishing my first in 3:33, my second was slightly slower at 3:35. I still felt good about that time but was obviously disappointed at my failure to improve on my first race. For my third marathon, I trained hard with a stronger sense of focus and determination than in previous years - I was determined to come in under 3:30.
For most of the race that day, I felt good but was behind my pace. As I ran, I just kept telling myself, "keep going - no breaks, keep going." So I did just that. By the 21st mile I realized that I was tired but I still felt good, I knew I still had plenty of gas left in the tank. As I looked ahead, I saw the 3:30 pace group and realized that I still had a legitimate chance to achieve my goal. Seeing them was a huge motivator and lifted my spirits right when I needed it most. I picked up my pace and caught up with the group running with them for several miles. As we approached the end of the race I felt filled with excitement and my legs just seemed to get lighter and lighter pulling me past the pace group and towards the finish line. I knew I was going to make it and as the end of the race came into my field of vision, I sprinted all the way through the crowd to the finish. As I crossed, I glanced at my phone and saw that I came in at just over 3:28. The adrenaline pumping through me, I let out a victory scream and coasted to a stop.
The finish time is only half of the story though. For most of my life I had never been a runner. Five years ago I would have laughed at you if you even suggested a run.
In fact, I had spent most of my life running pretty hard on a path of self destruction. In a desperate, broken moment I finally saw clearly for the first time that if I didn't change, I'd probably die.
Something had to give.
On January 6, 2013 I found sobriety and shortly thereafter, I discovered running. It was totally alien to me but it seemed to be working for a whole lot of people so I thought, why not me!? I started with a mile and was amazed at how quickly I was able to improve and increase my distances. More importantly, I was amazed at how it made me feel. Running provided me with a sense of calmness that I had never had before. It allowed me to feel good and to feel good about myself. It pulled me out of an incredibly dark place and helped me on the road to becoming a different, better person.
This picture captures me celebrating a moment of success, meeting a goal I had set for myself. But within that and every other finish line celebration I've ever had there is another more meaningful celebration. After every run, I have the very clear feeling of having been blessed with a second chance, a chance at a new and better life. In this instance I knew it and celebrated by shouting out loud!