There are five finisher medals hanging on the wall next to my desk in my bedroom. Each one with a story, each one holding a special place in my heart. This morning as I slowly woke up from the exhaustion only two days of hard running in a row can bring, I realized that very shortly my collection was about to expand. In two months I have my first half marathon of the year and then at least two more to follow.
I remember my mom's medal collection, she had at least ten that I can recall. Not all from marathons though. Some from halves, some from 10k's or other races. I remember the Disney ones, the Donald Duck from the Disney World Half, and the Mickey Mouse from the Disney World Full. She didn't run for the medals, I don't think any REAL runner really does run for the medal. But when you put in that amount of work and dedication, having those medals around to remind you of what you have accomplished makes you feel pretty good sometimes.
Disneyland Half Marathon - By far one of my biggest pieces of bling and one that means the most to be becuase it was my first ever long race. It was the one that started it all, and at the same time it was one of the best and worst races I have run. I was in a fabulous place surrounded by amazing people who encouraged me to keep going and make it to the end. But by the time I crossed that finish like at 13.1 the bottoms of my feet hurt more than they ever have - they felt like they were on fire and it was one of my slowest times to date. And yet after all the hard work I was hungry for more.
Me (front row second from the right) with my pace group 'The Kathy -O's' proudly showing off our finisher medals.
Philadelphia Half Marathon - My first race that my whole family came to watch. My first time running in my new city. I ran alone, but I managed to PR which felt amazing. And the more races I added to my list the more I wanted to do.
Me crossing the finish line of the Philadelphia Half Marathon. And yes I felt just as miserable as I look!
Philadelphia Distance Run - Affectionately known as the PDR to the locals is one of the best race courses I've done. It was one of my best, and favorite races to date. I had been training with Larry for the Philadelphia Full for three months, I was in the best shape of my life, and I PR'd. After this race I kept pushing myself even further. Unfortunately the only pictures of me running this race are by the race photographers and I didn't purchase any of them. No family came to watch this race since it was not the 'it' event of the year. It was only supposed to be a warm up, to show my body how hard I would need to push. After finishing this race, I was still in total doubt that I'd ever be able to finish a full marathon
Philadelphia Marathon - At the time I ran this race, it was the most proud moment of my entire life. For four years I talked about running a marathon for my mom to see. Something she had done with so much passion and love for the sport, and not for any recognition or acknowledgement. My mom who I admire more than anyone on the entire planet for working twice as hard as she needs to every day because she knows it's the right thing to do. Having gone through all the training and finally understanding what she had done for so many years and then having her be there to watch me finish, definitely brought tears to my eyes. The pink bow attached to the ribbon on this medal is my lucky pink hair bow which I wear religiously for every race since this one. It's just my way of bringing a little bit of Lilly to brighten my spirits.
Me (in green) and Larry (in orange) Coming around the final turn to the finish line at the Philadelphia Marathon (also pretty sure that is my mom's hair in the bottom left corner of the picture)
Hartford Marathon - Bringing it back to my (almost) hometown to give my family a break from the five hour drive to watch me run. Let's be honest here for a moment, marathons are not a great spectator sport. Especially when the whole city is shut down for a race, it's the middle of November and freezing. Hartford was supposed to be the race I broke 4 hours. My whole extended family came out to support me - aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and of course this was the day boyfriend meet them all. The race itself was a disaster and even though I PR'd with 15 minutes of my time from last year it was no where close to 4 hours and I felt like I had let everyone down. But Larry reminded me, when it was all over, that I accomplished something even he probably could not have done. I did not once ever, give up on that race. I ran at least half of the race feeling like someone was sitting on my chest and although I considered dropping out I never stopped moving. I even gave myself a final push at the very end. So when I look at that medal I know I am capable of anything.
Larry (again in orange) and Me (in blue) at the finish of the Hartford Marathon.
Hopefully by years end I can add at least three more finishes to the collection. Each race serving a purpose and maybe even a PR by the end of 2010. Until then I continue to look to the medals I already have to serve as inspiration and motivation to get up every day and work as hard as I can even it means sacrifice.
"There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going"