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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Sarah
Sarah
12 years ago

I wondered how you did all day yesterday and was so excited to see you did awesome! Very inspiring. Way to go! Love the photos.

Pam
Pam
12 years ago

EPIC WIN!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations!

Carrie
12 years ago

You–are just so incredibly AWESOME!

Korinna
12 years ago

I think my favorite part of this post–not at all diminishing the fact that you ran for 5 HOURS!–is the first picture of you and JB.

The way you two manage to support one another’s goals is admirable.

Well done, fam…

PattM
PattM
12 years ago

Congrats! You are totally awesome.

Erin
Erin
12 years ago

Oh, Linda! Congrats congrats! So proud of you and your awesome accomplishment! You really are such an inspiration to so many (thought of you and your marathon during my normal 3-5 mile run yesterday. Knowing you were running a marathon inspired me to keep going – 6.72 miles, the farthest I’ve run. Ever!)

Thank you for sharing your journey with us! You rock!

Meg
Meg
12 years ago

Sundry, I’ve been reading you for forever, and I don’t think I’ve ever commented. I am so, so proud of you, and so very inspired. You RULE.

LJ
LJ
12 years ago

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

parkingathome
12 years ago

You have been an inspiring woman to me for so many years for so many different reasons, and you accomplishing this feat that I would bet a few years ago you would have laughed heartily at the prospect, it’s just incredible. You have grown so much as a woman, a mother, a wife, and yourself. The pictures of yourself now are smiles from your whole soul, not just your lips. It’s just amazing to see you figuring out who you are, what you’re capable of, and most of all finding happiness. Congratulations

Julie Boyce
Julie Boyce
12 years ago

I was thinking of you yesterday morning, as I was running Vancouver’s BMO Half, in the cold and wet… and as I neared the finish line and realized this would be the halfway mark of a marathon, I reminded myself in the strongest of terms NEVER to be so foolish as to do that! But YOU did and my hat is off to you! It’s a huge accomplishment and comes with some great bragging rights! Congrats!

Clueless But Hopeful Mama

I am teary and beyond impressed.

You = super stud.

And now I officially have NO excuse to skip my measly work out today.

Sara
12 years ago

AMAZING!!!

The only other acceptable song to be playing while you crossed the finish line would have been eye of the tiger.

Whitney
Whitney
12 years ago

I’m so proud and thrilled for you, Linda!

Sarah M
Sarah M
12 years ago

I remember so many of those things from my first marathon!!! Congratulations, you are awesome!!

Danielle
Danielle
12 years ago

You f’n rule!

Echoing the previous comment – there is no way I can justify skipping any workouts, either.

Wow!

joaaanna
joaaanna
12 years ago

Awesome, Awesome, Awesome. This post made me cry with happiness for you. For your hard work and the love of your family. Congratulations – you did great!

B
B
12 years ago

You will always have that with you-keep that strength with you in your tough times.

You rock.

Nora
Nora
12 years ago

So proud of you! I cried, too. Just awesome.

Danielle
Danielle
12 years ago

Congrats! What an awesome achievement.

Diane
Diane
12 years ago

Linda, I feel so honored to “know” you. This is such a wonderful inspiring accomplishment and it is just so fantastic that you decided to do something and you did it. I have tears in my eyes thinking of your family being right there with you, cheering you on and running with you.

Trenches of Mommyhood
12 years ago

Amazing.

silene
silene
12 years ago

You are amazing. I know I say this in my comments all the time, but you’ve inspired me to make so many changes in my life. I just came in from what was my hardest training run ever (only 3.2 miles, but still!), and it was so inspiring and joyful to read this. Thanks for sharing your journey. Oh, and…CONGRATULATIONS! You are a marathon runner!

nonsoccermom
12 years ago

That is just such an awesome accomplishment! So very exciting! Congratulations!!

As a side note, I will mention to my husband that maybe he should carry a handkerchief with him when he runs the San Francisco marathon this summer. Just in case.

LauraC
12 years ago

CONGRATULATIONS!!

Micki
Micki
12 years ago

Reading your story made me want to run somewhere right now and I’m not a runner.

You are the awesomest! Congratulations!

JLR
JLR
12 years ago

You are a amazing. I am a lurker who looks to you for inspiration – and man did you provide it!

YOU DID IT!!!

Andrea (@shutterbitch)
12 years ago

I am so stinkin proud of you I can’t even form the right words. YOU DID IT!!!

The question is now, are you going to consider doing it again? Where do you go from here?

kathleen
kathleen
12 years ago

oh jesus, and now i’m crying. i am an big-goal-sap.

massive millions congrats. i hope you can bottle this feeling, this ‘i can do anything’ feeling. yay yay yay for you.

Claudia
12 years ago

Congratulations – you’re amazing.

kalisa
12 years ago

I don’t understand how you’re even standing upright in that picture. You are superwoman.

Shanee
12 years ago

You are amazing! Crying tears of joy for you!

Shawna
Shawna
12 years ago

Way to go Linda! I am so proud of you!

pthsmokey
12 years ago

CONGRATULATIONS! I am so proud of you – I don’t even know you and I am proud of you! Thank you for the inspiration!

Shanna
12 years ago

Congratulations! Amazing!!

Coleen
Coleen
12 years ago

OH MY GOD YOU TOTALLY DID IT! I am simply and utterly in awe of your badassery.

(I totally want your marathon playlist now, by the way. I am too curious for my own good.)

Erica
Erica
12 years ago

Congratulations! HUGE accomplishment. Wear your medal with pride :D

Kate
Kate
12 years ago

Congratulations! I am so proud of you! You are such an inspiration!

Marie Green
12 years ago

I was 9 when my dad ran his first (of 50) marathons. When we got home, he gave me his finish medal. I could still sob remembering that, remembering how proud I was of him. And now I’m crying because I’m so proud of you too, and seeing your kids there… well, many times throughout my life I was one of those kids, cheering her daddy on, running with him for a bit, and tearing up after he went around the bend (not wanting him to see).

Way to go Linda. I’m not exactly able to pinpoint why I have tears of pride for you- someone I don’t know- but alas… here I am, crying!

Erika
Erika
12 years ago

WOOT, THERE IT IS!! So excited for you! Gosh, I just love your family. You guys rock! Each and every one of you.

Erin W
12 years ago

I can’t exactly say why I’m crying but I am. You’re awesome.

Stephanie
Stephanie
12 years ago

You are so awesome and I am totally crying reading this! What an incredible accomplishment! I had a 5K yesterday and thought about you as the gun went off because I figured your marathon probably began at the same time (8am). YOU DID IT!!!

Lori
Lori
12 years ago

Finisher is MUCH different than participant. Not even close. Congratulations!

In every marathon there is that long, lonely stretch. You probably didn’t realise how much hunting for the porta-john took your mind off that long, lonely stretch.

And you look great at the end. Still smiling.

Anne
12 years ago

*fistbump*

You Rock.

Garnish
12 years ago

Yeah…pretty much lost it when you talked about seeing your boys along the route and them cheering you on. So, so proud of you. You set a goal and you.did.it! Your boys know that anything is possible in their world, if they put their mind to it. We all know that now. Thanks for the inspiration!

Sarah
Sarah
12 years ago

Congrats!! I knew you could – but I am still so very proud of you! How awesome that your boys were there to lift your spirits along the way!! What an amazing experience, I’m sure!

squandra
squandra
12 years ago

Aieee! I’ve been reading since Diaryland, and just … damn. What a journey you’ve taken us on. So proud of you. Congratulations!

Angela
Angela
12 years ago

Way to go! What an awesome accomplishment. Let me join the others who said how much you inspire them. As soon as I kick this damn cold, I am going to hit the road and start running again, and this time I will make it through the entire Couch to 5K program. I can do it (thanks to you)!!!!

Congratulations!!

Ris
Ris
12 years ago

I’m so effing proud of you! And I’m definitely crying at my desk as I read this. Amazing. Congrats, lady.

babelbabe
12 years ago

you ROCK. Congratulations on a terrific achievement!

Danell
12 years ago

I can’t believe you ran for FIVE HOURS. FIIIIVE HOOOOUUUUURS. I have a hard time riding in a CAR for five hours. When I am sitting. FIVE. HOURS. oh. my. god. Congratulations!