First things first:

race_dunzo

I’ve got a marathon medal. Sure, it says “Finisher” which is sort of like “Participant!” or “Great Attendance!” but what the hell, I have a MARATHON MEDAL.

I don’t even really know how to describe the race except that I had two very clear thoughts at two very different parts of the course, and they were as follows:

• This is one of the best experiences of my entire life
• This is the worst experience of my entire life

And it was, really. Both of those things.

I felt pretty good during the first half, strong and in good spirits. Then there was kind of a long dreary stretch along a highway that was boring and grueling, and just after that section, right when I needed it, there were my boys on the side of the road. Riley was waving like mad and holding up a sign for me and Dylan was perched on his grandfather’s shoulders and I totally lost my shit. It was just one of the most amazing feelings ever, being able to run up and hug them and have everyone tell me I looked good and they were proud of me and Dylan squealing and Riley saying “Mommy!” over and over. That was . . . well. I am never going to forget that, ever.

race_kids

race_thumbs

I picked up after that for a while and then there was a really awful section during which I kind of needed to go to the bathroom and then I really needed to go to the bathroom and then I was in dire fucking agony and desperately scouting bushes on the side of the trail and calculating over and over just How Bad Things Were and this lasted from mile 18 to 22 because there were no porta-potties for that stretch and it was totally my worst nightmare come true and I have no idea what my problem was because I never get those kinds of problems and I can kind of laugh about it now but oh jesus it wasn’t even remotely funny at the time.

(PS: When I finally got to a bathroom? No toilet paper. And I’d just like to give a public apology to my handkerchief for its undignified and disrespectful end of life.)

JB’s brother was waiting with JB at mile 21 and for a brief minute Joe ran with me, in his formal funeral-director suit and shoes, and I wish like hell I had a photo of that moment because it was kind of epic in its awesomeness.

Then JB ran with me from mile 21 to 26, which was a lifesaver. Those last four miles or so were . . . man, I don’t even know, it was like my entire body was disintegrating. I felt like the kids in that Stephen King story, The Long Walk, where all I could do was stare at the ground ahead of me and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I saw the boys again at mile 24, which was a slice of pure joy among all the pain, and then the finish was so close, so close I could see the stadium.

race_riley

JB kept pace, pushing me to keep going, and he cut away right before mile 26. There were so many people lining the route, everyone cheering and yelling encouragement, and we ran between barricades which led us onto Hayward Field. The very last bit was on the track, rounding the bend and into the straightaway, and I picked up my feet and sprinted across the finish mat.

With, I will confess, Chariots of Fire playing on my iPod. I KNOW, RIGHT?

race_finish

After the finish I pretty much collapsed in tears and just sobbed openly while some nice college girl put a medal over my head and it was done. Done, done, done, my god.

My finish time was just under five hours. Slow by some standards, but I don’t care. Oh, you guys. I did it.

race_medal

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Ginger
12 years ago

I am going to think of you when I go back to Jazzercise next week for the first time in about five years and two kids.

You rock, lady!

Chiara
12 years ago

So excited and proud! Awesome awesome job girl.

Leah
12 years ago

I love that JB ran with you when you needed it most of all. What a great team you guys are, even when you’re pursuing individual goals.

Lesley
Lesley
12 years ago

Congratulations on a stunning achievement! Under five hours for a first time running 26-miles is pretty damned awesome. You should be really proud of yourself.

Love the photo of Riley holding his arms out. Nothing could be sweeter than your kids cheering you on and being immensely proud of their mom. You’re an inspiration.

And your bro-in-law deserves a good humour award. Too funny.

jody
12 years ago

So, so awesome. Love the photos of your boys and how excited they were. You should be PROUD!

Ashley
12 years ago

Fucking EPIC! So proud :)

Meredith
Meredith
12 years ago

I am so incredibly proud of you. You are an inspiration. Thank you

karion
karion
12 years ago

God, I am so relieved to know I am not the only one who got a little teary reading this.

Huge congrats to you for setting out to do something so grueling and accomplishing that amazing goal. I was surprised at how enthusiastically I reacted to your tweets and updates about it, and am completely relieved that I was not the only one who got caught up in the emotion of your accomplishment.

It really is inspiring, as trite and cliche as it sounds. Unabashedly inspiring, actually.

MichelleH
MichelleH
12 years ago

Oh wow, got completely teary reading that! Way to go!!!!!!!!!!

Camels & Chocolate
12 years ago

You are such a rockstar!!! That’s amazing!! And I totally can agonize with you, as this took me back to my one (and only) marathon. Had I not had my running buddy run me through the second half marathon (particularly the last three miles), I may very well not have finished!

Now the big question remains: Do you think you’ll do a second??

tanya
tanya
12 years ago

I am crying. I am so happy for you. Congratulations.

sooboo
sooboo
12 years ago

You are so fucking cool!!!!!!

Kathryn (katiemagics)
12 years ago

You ran for 5 hours. Can you even believe it? I’m so amazed and inspired. It’s because of you that I’m doing my first race (a tri) in June. Thank you, and congratulations woman!!!

Velocibadgergirl
12 years ago

Dude, you kick so much ass :D And I still can’t believe how great and not-dead you look in your after photo. Congrats!!

Karl
Karl
12 years ago

JB .. Ran with your from miles 21 to 26? and then CUT OFF FOR THE FINISH???

Oh Linda. You need to have this guy’s babies. Er, yeah….

Seriously, congrats. The one time I tried the full 26.2 I ended up with a tibial stress fracture. (crap!) You beat 5 hours. YOU FINISHED.

Congratulations. Winner Linda!

Kirsten
12 years ago

Dude, that made me tear up…and almost (ALMOST) made me with I would start running. Good job girl, you fucking ROCK!

Amy
Amy
12 years ago

Giant congratulations!

Donna
Donna
12 years ago

!

I have no words.

AND you’re still smiling, how is that possible?

ElizabethZ
ElizabethZ
12 years ago

Way to go! I knew you were going to finish – there was no doubt. So, when’s the next one?

Lucy
Lucy
12 years ago

Congratulations! That is a huge achievement, well done! Your photos capture the moment so well, they are a great record for you to share with the boys in years to come.

Jo
Jo
12 years ago

You are a star! I’ve got tears in my eyes, just a stellar effort – yay you!!

JMH
JMH
12 years ago

Amazing. I also shed a few tears while reading this…and now I need to start running again ;)

Catriona
Catriona
12 years ago

Amazing! Congratulations!!

Christine
Christine
12 years ago

Congratulations! You’re amazing! And awesome! And I just want to hug you and your amazing little family too. Just so stinking cool.

Eric's Mommy
12 years ago

You are such an inspiration Linda. Way to go!

I am so proud of you!!

beach
beach
12 years ago

CONGRATULATIONS. That is epic. Tears sprung to my eyes when I read JB ran with you miles 21-26. So awesome. Treat yourself to something special Linda. You deserve it. I look forward to reading about how your body feels apres le race!!

sas
sas
12 years ago

you did it!
christ i am bawling like an idiot reading this.
you are just awesome.

Jean
Jean
12 years ago

You are AMAZING and INSPIRING and you ROCK! So damn awestruck by your accomplishments!! Congratulations!!

Bethany
Bethany
12 years ago

Congratulations! You are such an inspiration. I cried while reading this.

Lori
Lori
12 years ago

Amazing! Congratulations.

Kelli
Kelli
12 years ago

Congrats! You are totally my inspiration as I struggle through the Couch to 5K program! Dude, you just ran a MARATHON…you just ran for 5 hours! You are awesome.

Christine
12 years ago

OMG, congratulations, you are such an inspiration! And you look awesome in the pictures. Your family is amazing, too, what a great support they were, especially when it was hard.
You did it!

Christine
Christine
12 years ago

Congrats! YOU DID IT! YOU ROCK! And you are my inspiration! I am committing myself to training for a half marathon here in NJ starting in September when my youngest is in pre-school 2 days a week and I am child free for some long runs. OMG! Linda, I am so proud of you (even though I don’t know you or anything…sorry if that got creepy!)

Jess
12 years ago

You are awesome! I am crying here reading through this. I am so proud of you! You are amazing!

Kerstin
Kerstin
12 years ago

Wow. Well done, and what lovely family you have.

Catherine
12 years ago

You truly just brought me to tears, I am inspired by your willingness to do something that seems so terrifying. My husband is a runner and I’ve always scoffed at the idea of running myself, but maybe…

Alissa
Alissa
12 years ago

WOW – Amazing! I got teary-eyed reading this. The high point was definitely that you used my suggestion for “Chariots of fire” as you crossed the line, though! Woot woot!! haha :)

CONGRATULATIONS!! :)

lindsay
12 years ago

I woke up yesterday w/ your marathon on my brain. So pumped it went well…you make me want to sign up for one! And I second the comment about Riley cheering with his arms open..too sweet.

SC Girl
SC Girl
12 years ago

Oh now I’m all teary damn it! Linda, this perfect stranger from the other side of the continent couldn’t be prouder of you! I’m running a 10k (I’ve only ever done a 5k and I cried at the end of that – I’d need a tranquillizer after a full marathon) in about 6 weeks and I’m dragging my feet in getting started on training. As soon as my husband walks in the door tonight I’m going for a run – Thanks for the inspiration and Congratulations!!!

Jan
Jan
12 years ago

Congratulations! What an amazing accomplishment! I too had tears reading this post – soooooo happy for you.

Megsie
12 years ago

I have never commented here, but the tear in my eye requires me to say: CONGRATULATIONS! What an incredible feat. And this on the third day after I began running ONE minute and then walking nine minutes in a set of four. And my legs hurt. Plus, NO TOILET PAPER? Come on people! That is the least they could provide. And, I LOVE the medal. You deserve it!

Becky
Becky
12 years ago

YEAH!!!!!!!! I am joining the masses withe tears and congratulations!!!!!!

Emma
Emma
12 years ago

I hope one day you (seriously) realize what an inspiration you are to so many faceless people out here…people who feel like they know you. So thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Kaitlyn
12 years ago

Oh congrats, a million times! I am so PROUD of you!!

Stacy
12 years ago

You are such a badass … congrats!

Claire
12 years ago

You rock so hard!

Kate
12 years ago

This post SO made me cry and I’m on my way to work and now I have to go re-make-up!

Congratulations, Linda! You are always an inspiration.

June
12 years ago

You are amazing! I may have wept a little, reading the recap. Congratulations.

Denise
12 years ago

I just sat here at work reading this, holding back tears, because I didn’t to be the dufus crying at work. But seriously, great job, Linda! This is such an amazing accomplishment, and I’m so glad your family was there to root for you, and it was great of JB to run part of the end with you.

Congratulations!

JennyM
JennyM
12 years ago

WOOOOO, you rock. I must confess I got a little weepy there.

So, when’s the next one?