In the thick of thousands, I don’t stand out. I am the classic model of average. Some say that running a marathon is not average, but exceptional. I say that I am only running the half this time. Even as the average, I am blessed. Each day I have sacrificed and I have celebrated. It makes me whole. My husband and daughters, parents and friends make me whole.
I met Lucas in college. A common tale of boy meets girl…meets house, engagement, surprise pregnancy, wedding, new house and new surprise pregnancy. Lucas is athletic but prefers motorized travel. Our first run together was in 2001, he was an off-season soccer player at the UWMC. He was swift and steady and still is. Our second run together, 11 years later, I dragged him out, plotting for a cohort in the Tough Mudder. I was an uncommon female competitor and going solo was making me nervous. My scheme failed as his interest never ignited. Honestly, that hopeful spark was more like a soggy matchstick.
I choose the Tough Mudder as a prelude to 2012’s big show at the Chicago Marathon. Aptly named, it was a challenge like no other and the sense of locking arms with other contenders was refreshing, reminiscent of my introductory distance event, the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon. Lucas cheered me on throughout the Mudder course and his support has always been evident.
He frequently materializes, half way through a 20 mile plod on the country road, with rehydration and encouragement. That gesture always fills me with pride and a little relief, knowing I am not alone but backed by so many.
That respite was unmatched on a hot August Monday, when I saw the Tahoe pull up. I had just tried to call him, as I sat on the curb sobbing. With a dozen people gathered, I was isolated and alone nevertheless.
Under the scorching sun, I had traveled ten miles. The first five were harsh, moving against five o’clock traffic and feeling the heat on my neck. Eventually, I caught my groove and even added an extra loop. Travelling westward in the wide bike lane, I waved as I passed a walker and watched the traffic leaving the Church lot. I saw the white sedan waiting at the crossroad and then she pulled out. I yelled “Stop!”, but had nowhere to go. Over the hood, I landed into the roadway. Focusing on the pebbled surface I was pressed against, I remember consciously breathing and then felt a tug on my arm. White-haired, donning slippers, her fright equaled mine.
She didn’t see me; I didn’t stand out.
So the 2012 big show never happened, and I return to Green Bay to reclaim the glory of an average long-distance runner. My story is odd and oddly average, but my will is nothing but extraordinary.