Monday, October 5, 2009

26 miles, 26 miracles

Post race with my marathon partner, Superman Shane.


Saturday was marathon day. It was the perfect day for a run. As the thousands of runners marched their favorite running shoes and dreams of finishing into the steady stream of pre-dawn school buses headed precisely 26.2 miles away, I could feel myself getting excited and calm all at once. All the preparation was finally over. It was time to see if it was enough.

Fortunately (make that miraculously) for me, Matt's cousin's husband (got that?) Shane, an accomplished marathoner and athlete agreed to run with me. We were never able to connect for a run prior to the race, but he greeted me with a wealth of positivity and good advice. He was optimistic and hopeful we could meet my new-found goal of finishing in 3:40, the time required to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Just as a huge harvest moon settled behind the mountains and dawn began to debut, the race began. It was crowded and fast and wonderful. Shane and I shook our heads as we watched, ran past, and sped up to avoid a few characters in the crowd. The woman who kept dropping her camera and running back to get it--who runs a marathon with a camera? The breather who made us tired just listening to his forced air exchange. And many others that made people watching the main focus as the miles clipped by. There were hills. There were pace checks. But mostly we just ran.

When we hit the half way point about four minutes ahead of schedule I started to believe we were going to hit the mark. At mile 16 I started to choke up. Boston? Really? Yes, really. When the miles got harder and my muscles more fatigued, I recalled a list of 26 miracles I made prior to leaving for the race. "If I ever need a little extra inspiration, I'll remember the many miracles that have brought me and my little family to this point," I thought as I typed out the list last week. I titled the list 26 miles, 26 miracles. And I was glad I had that list to think about. I ran a mile for Dr. Hawkins. I ran miles for Dr. Lei and Dr. Pinto. I ran a mile for good neighbors. Another for best friends. I ran a mile for Matt and another after that because he's earned it. I ran a mile for Luna, Gracie, Avery, Daxton, Teagan, Jack and their moms. I ran miles for Ty and Preston and their brave, loving, amazing hearts. I ran a mile for the never-ending support of family. I ran a mile for Paul. I ran still more miles for many other non-coincidences, new relationships and old friends. And of course, a mile for McKay who makes everything complicated and simple all at once. My life is full.

Still somewhere between mile 24 and 25 my muscles started to give and doubt began to creep in. I walked for the first time. I cursed--just once. The voice of celebration in my head gave way to negotiation. Maybe next time, I thought. Under four hours is still okay. Your legs are jello. Just walk. That's when Shane looked at me and said, "You've got this, but you have to run." So we ran. I remember seeing the finish line and Shane grabbing my elbow and saying, "Sprint."

We finished. Stopped our watches and stared: 3:40. Matt greeted me and then ran to the official results tent and returned with a little white slip of paper. He looked worried. "What is the very last time you can have for Boston," he asked. "It's 3:40:59," I said. He smiled and handed me the paper: 3:40:22. We did it.

I screamed so loud I scared my four year old to tears. "WE'RE GOING TO BOSTON!!!!" It was an unbelievable feeling.



As I sit tonight, feet soaking, here's what I know: When you finish a marathon everyone wants to know your time; the official measure of your success. And, yes, that's important. But the real accomplishment of finishing a marathon is not in the 26.2 miles of aid stations, other runners, cheering crowds and balloon-filled finish lines of race day.

Marathons become milestones in your life because of the many, many, many mornings nothing but your will power pulls you out of a warm bed and into streets still dark and groggy with night.

Marathons are earned through a series of lonely runs, stashed Gatorade, and endless inner dialogue. It's just you and the seconds, minutes, hours ticking by on your watch. It's beautiful sunrises only you see. It's sleepless nights full of babies who don't understand the miles that must be logged. It's discovering how bad you want the goal, but not fully understanding why. It's the endless support of a spouse who knows you need this; you need to sweat and think and beat it out so you can come home and be better.

It's the miracle of an unexpected coach, mentor, friend who at the last minute agrees to run with you. Who in the last miles of the race tells you how close the finish line is, how you must keep running, how you are just too close to quit now. And the mornings, the miles, the hours spent preparing mean nothing in the end without that voice next to you telling you, "You can do this. Just keep running. You have to run. If you want it, you have to sprint." And so you do. And with just 37 seconds to spare, you make it.

We all run marathons. Some physical. Some emotional. Most of us finish without anyone noticing. And we rarely take time to heal, to rest, to refuel before the next race begins. My race was physical, but I think it was my most successful because it has been a year of watching others finish strong. Watching others help each other through the hard parts.

Please keep running all your many, varied races my friends. You inspire. You motivate. You make me want to do and be better. Keep. Moving. Forward. See you in Boston.


22 comments:

Tawn said...

Congrats Mindi! This is just AWESOME!!! This post gave me the chills, but most of your posts do! I love keeping up on your blog!

Christina Chau said...

What a great accomplishment, Mindi! Congratulations! You are so inspiring and STRONG - you are a role model for women everywhere!

Marshelle said...

Mindi, now that my hair is standing on end and I have tears of joy in my eyes, once again you have inspired me and left me in awe! You are one of those people in life that I will never forget. You have left an unforgettable imprint on my heart and life. Congrats again and how proud your little babes and hubby must be!

Kyle and Alli said...

Wow. What an absolute accomplishment! I am so proud of you for making this race one of reflection and gratitude. Completely inspiring! Can't wait to hear about Boston!

Lisanne said...

You are super woman! Way to go! Boston will be so exciting! Thanks for another amazing and inspiring post!!

Meredith said...

Congratulations! I am so happy for you, but somehow not the least bit surprised that you pulled this off :)

Melissa said...

Way to go!!! I have some friends that also just qualified for Boston, at a race in Cali!! What an accomplishment!

Sheri Cox said...

Mindi You are my hero.

jaci said...

YEAAA Mindi!!! Beautiful post as always, I'm in tears. I'm so very lucky to call you my friend. You inspire me and make me want to be better.
I just love you, and CONGRATS on Boston! That is so awesome!
Love ya
Jaci

Katie said...

You are amazing!!! Way to go, that's so impressive :) I love your blog, thanks for sharing those great thoughts as you ran that marathon!

Kathryn said...

WOW...that's inspirational! Way to go Mindi! You deserve everything you get...you work hard and inspire all of us! Way to go and keep it up!

Ryan and Hilary said...

Oh sweet Beautiful Mindi!! Congratulations!! What a major, major accomplishment! So inspiring.
Thanks for the good cry this morning. Can't wait to hear about Boston!!

Natalie said...

Yeah Mindi! We are so proud of you. Loved reading your blog & hearing the story from Shane too :) I think he would have had to carry me across that finish line.
Congrats!

♥ Michele ♥ said...

You go girl!!! You are AMAZING!! What an accomplishment! And thank you for thinking of Gracie during your run, you are so sweet! McKay is looking chunky and cute as ever. Looks like things are going well for you guys. Hope to see you sometime soon!!

Anonymous said...

You are one strong,loving lady. I don't know where you get all that energy...I love your blog..your family is just wonderful. Best of luck in Boston...that is huge...You go girl...what a great accomplishment. You make us all proud.

Summer said...

Congrats for doing so well in the Marathon! Congrats for training for a marathon even with a little heart babe who is so time consuming! I love how you related each mile to a miracle in your life! I'm glad you had such an amazing person (Shane) to keep you on pace to reach your goal! I have trained for three Marathons running with the same group as Shane (not at his typical training speed though!!!) and enjoyed the training and the end feeling so much! I have missed that true "runner's high" since Mason was born. I had even qualified for Boston as well, but had a bit of surprise come along that year...Mason... and with his heart condition being a surprise also...Boston never happened! Someday I will run it and count my miracles along the way. For now I'm lucky to get 30 min. on my treadmill in the basement to keep my sanity. I am so glad Mckay is doing SO WELL! I will pray he stays healthy all winter (and that you can go run Boston in the Spring!!!)

Love. Mason's Mommy

The INCREDIBLE Pettit's said...

Mindi you are AMAZING...I feel so blessed to call you my friend! Thanks for counting us as one of your 26 miracles...I sure wish we could celebrate it! I'm so proud of you for sticking to it and qualifying for Boston...can't wait to see where we are then! Keep up the good work, in everything you do!
HEART HUGS

LIFE CHANGES said...

Hello, my name is Krystal. I just became a part of IHH I lost my Angel Baby in July after only five days! It is so great to be part of a group that gets all aspects of this process. Your story is amazing and your little boy is so cute! Good Job on the Marathon!

Emily said...

Congratulations!!! You are truly inspiring. Boston! Amazing!!!

Sabrina said...

I've read this post a few times now, and continue to think about it...

you are such an inspiration, you give us no excuse not to succeed!

I'm wondering how you do this with little sleep...?

Patriot's Day, Boston...expect the Velandry crew to be cheering you on!!

Terry said...

Mindi,

I know you don't know me very well, they split the ward too soon before we could really get acquainted, but I love reading your blog. You are an excellent writer and inspire me with the way you live your life and the attitude with which you face challenges. Thank you for just being who you are!

Philosophy Photography by Brandee said...

Wow Mindi! You amaze me. This entry is just what I needed to read today! Thanks!!

Brandee