The Finish Line

On the way to the finish line, there was a steep hill. The last few blocks were steeped in emotion. Happy the finish line was in sight. Happy to cross the finish line. Disappointed that this was not my day to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Disappointed that I was disappointed.

I was raised to be a good sport. I didn’t want to be one of “those people.” People who are so friggin’ competitive that they can’t recognize their accomplishments. The wave of emotions caught me off guard and made me realize just how badly I want this to happen. And just how much a marathon takes out of you.

I looked around at families greeting their loved ones at the finish line. I waddled back to the area in back of Humpy’s reserved for the runners, found a bench in the corner and called my big sister Jane. Fell apart for a couple of minutes. Called Dad. And then I tried just as hard to just snap out of it.

I found some of the guys who I spoke with before the race. A 64-year old gentleman from Minnesota who did this thing in 3:31 (no, that’s not a typo) and won his age group. I asked him, “Did you get faster with age?”(I needed some hope.) “I did until I turned 53 and had a triple by-pass,” he explained. His son had flown in from Minnesota the day before to surprise him and watch his race with mom. I could tell he was a little protective of his dad too. I was feeling better – emotionally. How could I not after seeing such a cool family moment? I waddled over to the bar for a well-earned beer. Turned around and spotted “Runny Knose” and “The Dead Guy” with two other runners. They invited me to join their table.

They introduced me to Bruce and Glenda, a married couple who have run 63 and 60 marathons respectively. They all gave me hope. They all gave me advice. I felt like I was getting a crash course in marathons over microbrews. The whole concept made me laugh. “Wow! I thought tri-geeks were geeky, but you marathon guys!” I said. Wayne replied, “Well, we are. But in one third the way!”