Due to the traffic in Chicago, the drive last night was longer than anticipated, so we got in very late and had to get up early this morning. The day started with another blood draw, and both arms got stuck this time. A few hours of sleep and a dual needle stick isn’t the most cheery start to the day. But I tried my best to remain upbeat. Then when I stepped outside, a blast of cold air stopped me in my tracks. It was near freezing, and the forecast wasn’t for it to warm up much at all. Today was looking like a rough one.
And it got worse. We were nearly half an hour late getting to the starting line. I was so concerned about the other runners being out there in the freezing cold waiting for me. More than my lack of sleep or sore arms, I was worried about the other runners.
When we got to the start, however, they gave me an ovation as I jumped out of the car. I couldn’tbelieve it. Here I was half an hour behind schedule, and they’re all standing there in the cold graciously applauding my arrival. When I started to apologize about being late, they would have none of it. This group was so positive, so energetic, so compassionate, they were worried about me and thought little of standing in the freezing cold until I got there. These were some of the greatest individuals imaginable, and this was the warmest reception I could ever ask for.
And it got better. Once we started running, the warm sentiments were like a ray of sunlight shining down upon us. Runners had come from across the nation to be here today: a couple were from Southern California (where the temperature today is 80 degrees), there was a gentleman who’d flown in from Denver, several Missourians were in the group, a token Canadian, and a whole host of folks from neighboring states. There were runners of all abilities and backgrounds, from ultramarathoners to first-time marathoners, from college students to surgeons. We all shared one common passion, a love of running.
And run we did. The entire course was on a paved footpath, so there were no concerns about motortraffic. It was a scenic course around Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun, with duck and geese crossings along the way. There were supporters at many spots on the course, holding signs and offering food andencouragement. Many were kids, with posters they had made for class projects. Everybody got a kick out of their spirit.
Temperatures warmed slightly during the middle of the run, but cooled considerably toward the end. But the cold didn’t stop anybody from completing what they’d set out to do. In fact, a few who had only intended of running a half-marathon ended up doing the entire thing!
This was a hardy bunch. Standing around the finish line was freezing, but not even the bitter cold could subdue the warm hearts in this group. We laughed at the cold, saying this was a day none of us would soon forget. I signed some books and t-shirts, congratulated the first-time marathoners and all the other runners on their accomplishment, and chatted with everyone until the crowd departed and I was the last one remaining.
I’d hardly felt tired the entire day, but then the cumulative lack of sleep started to take hold, as did the chilly air. It’s sometimes difficult to run a marathon and then type up the daily blog afterward, especially when you’re sleep deprived and cold. But a lovely young lady had given me a gift today. She’d approached me at the finish and handed me two beautiful coloring books for Alexandria and Nicholas. This was not the only gift she bestowed upon me, however. She went on to explain the tragic loss of her friends daughter, saying the precious little girl used to love these coloring books. Her mother was grieving deeply and the one small thing she looked forward to every day was reading my daily updates on the website.
With tears in my eyes, I thanked her for the gifts. The coloring books were special, yet the inspiration to keep doing my best, despite any amount of exhaustion and fatigue, was an even bigger gift.
With tears still in my eyes, I bid farewell to Minnesota and the many great people that touched me today. Your weather numbed my bones, but your spirit warmed my heart.