This morning was a rough one. The drive from Louisiana last night was arduous, and what sleep I did get was restless. It wasn’t easy prying myself up at sunrise to go run a marathon. But upon seeing the other runners standing on the street corner at the start of the course raring to go, my spirits lifted immediately.
A cold front had swept through the middle of the country last night, and temperatures this morning were cool, a welcomed relief from yesterday’s heat and humidity. We snapped a couple pictures at thestarting line, and things got underway. Although Huntsville is surprisingly hilly (I had thought all of Alabama was essentially flat), the marathon course follows a route that is relatively level. We passed through some historic, tree-lined neighborhoods in the cool of the morning air.
The group was a diverse one. There were experienced ultramarathoners, first-time marathoners, college students, coaches, triathletes, school teachers, and business owners, all with one thing in common, a shared passion for running. Because the course crossed several major intersections, the group really worked hard at staying together so that the Police could get us all through. For some it meant holding back their pace, and for others it meant pushing as hard as they could. Everyone was terrific in working together as a team to keep within close enough proximity so that the roaming road closures didn’t hold up traffic.
Runners today had come from Georgia, Texas, Atlanta, Mississippi, and Tennessee. A college student had driven half the night from Georgia with his girlfriend to be at the start. One of the teachers I spoke with had her entire 5th grade class following the Endurance 50, and they were so excited that their own teacher got to be a part of it!
After we crossed the finish line and exchanged hugs and high-fives, a very distinguished gentlemancame over to me and said, “Thank you for the most memorable marathon my career.” I said, “You’re welcome,” and asked him how many marathons he has run: “Over two hundred.”
Wow! My first reaction was to bow to him in admiration. Instead, I said, “Thank you for the most memorable 26 days of my life.”
It’s another long drive tonight, and it won’t be too fun. But at least now I know what Lynyrd Skynyrd meant when he wrote, “Sweet home Alabama...”