December 08, 2007
Ted stood right near the starting line and heard the announcer say that last year it had taken 12 minutes for everyone to cross the line. I was toward the back of the pack, and Ted actually found me and watched me cross the line after 17 minutes! The timing chips we wore on our shoelaces started the clock from the time we crossed start and stopped when we made it to the finish line, so I wasn't too concerned about how the delay would affect my overall time. However, I didn't anticipate how many people would be walking or jogging very slowly from the beginning! I was never so glad to just RUN as I was when I actually got across that line and was able to separate myself a bit from the throng. I don't do well in large crowds, as anyone who has been with me at a Stampin' Up! Convention knows. :-) I tend to find the path of least resistance and zip right through it!
So there I was, running down the Strip with multitudes of people. People in Santa hats. People in elf hats. Running Elvises (208 of them), trying as a group to gain the World Record for the highest number of running Elvi. (They did it!) Brides and grooms, preparing for their ceremony at the Run-Through Wedding Chapel at mile 5. People running for causes--leukemia, stroke, heart disease, cancer, children's tumors, AIDS. People running in memory of loved ones. People walking, people laughing, people sight-seeing. Old people, young people, skinny people, not-so-skinny people, handicapped people. I loved being there and just taking in the sights, sounds, and even smells. Around mile 2 a man passed me saying, "It smells like Disney World here," and indeed the air did carry the scent of a theme park, with deep-fried goodness wafting about.
I heard the Blue Man Group playing music as I approached mile 3. I skipped this water station, as I was hoping to get past more of the crowd, but the crowd really didn't thin out until well after the full marathon split off from the half. Thereafter I stopped to walk while I drank either water or Gatorade, forcing myself to breathe and take it easy for a half-minute or so. It was hard--I had more energy than I would have thought possible! Running on the flat streets downtown seemed so easy after running around the hills close to home. I wondered when it would start to get hard but decided to just keep pressing on until that point came.
The scenic part was all at the beginning. After we split off from the full marathon folks, we wound around some not-so-great looking streets, places I certainly wouldn't be walking around any other time. (Don't worry, Mom, I was perfectly safe! Tons of people around, and police at every intersection!) It was so neat to see people cheering us on at every mile marker. Obviously some were there looking for specific people, but they cheered everyone on regardless. Race volunteers were overworked and definitely underpaid, ha! We had to fill our own water cups at several stops because they just didn't have enough volunteers. The ones that were there were frantically setting out cups and opening jugs of water and Gatorade. No matter, most of us weren't out to set any world records anyway.
Mile 8 caught me by surprise--had it really been 8 miles already?! That was a good sign. Mile 10 was even better--the full marathon loop met up with us here, and we saw the first runners coming through the tunnel and heading down the last stretch. We joked that we were "running with the elite!" Wow. We got lapped at mile 23!! Those guys are amazing. Every time a full marathon runner came around the corner you could hear the half-marathon folks cheering him on. (And I say "him" literally here, as I didn't see any women runners...they had been given a head start in order to account for the time differential for the first place finisher overall.) I saw a wheelchair racer come around as well, having nearly completed the full marathon in approximately 2 1/2 hours. So inspiring!
In fact, so many people inspired me that morning...older folks that whizzed by some of the young ones, as well as older folks who were wheezing and plodding along. The woman with two prosthetic legs, leaning on her husband at mile 8. The cancer survivor. The kid who didn't look a day older than 12. What an accomplishment, to be committed to health when so many in those situations would excuse themselves from pushing hard physically.
A couple more bands were playing as we headed down the home stretch. I didn't pay much attention, as I was antsy to get to the finish line by this time. I knew my time had to be better than I expected, having seen the clocks at various points and realizing I was close to 10-minute miles consistently. As we rounded the corner to head into the parking lot at Mandalay Bay, I started scanning the crowd to see if by chance I could find Ted. And I did! His Avalanche ballcap, plus the fact that he stood head and shoulders above the spectators nearest him, made it easy for me to pick out my best friend and lover! I felt like a teenager, as my heart leaped and I could hardly catch my breath for a moment! I could see on his face how proud he was of me, and I loved that he ran toward the finish line with me, trying his best to get some pictures of this momentous occasion.
Ted took the picture above, and here is the link to the professional ones taken. I had my sweatshirt on for all but the last mile and a half of the race, as it was COLD outside, so not too many pictures are posted. And they probably won't be there past this month, so hopefully you'll read this post and be able to see the pics before they disappear!
Crossing the finish line was exhilerating! To think that I, Beverly, who couldn't run more than a mile in high school without having to sit down, could actually run 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 12 minutes! It just goes to show that anything is possible. I've learned that I have, for much of my life, completely underestimated the abilities God has given every human being. Our bodies are simply amazing. I thank God for my health and energy and pray that I will stay committed to a healthy lifestyle so I can be ready for any opportunities that He brings my way.