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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Maria
12 years ago

I was thinking of you all day yesterday and was so proud of you when I saw your tweet. It sounds crazy to say it because you barely know me at all, but there you have it. Your story is made even more amazing by the fact that you have such a strong husband and family support system behind you. And even more sweet by the fact that you don’t need us to tell you that you are a very lucky woman. Congratulations!

Amy
Amy
12 years ago

You are awesomeness embodied! Well done mama!

maggie
maggie
12 years ago

I laughed and cried reading this! Awesome job!Congrats and when’s the next one?

Dawn
Dawn
12 years ago

I’ve said it to you all over the internet, and will keep saying it…you are fucking awesome, and I am so, so proud of you. The thought of you seeing your cheering section, especially JB and the boys brought tears to my eyes; and that JB ran the end with you is wonderful. Also, I love, love, love that you gave Dylan finger guns as you ran off.

Jenny
12 years ago

I was about to say I couldn’t believe it, but everything you’ve been doing for the past few years supports it. Of course I can believe it. You are made of this. Challenge and success, over and over again. I never, ever say this to people I don’t even know, but you’ve inspired me to think even I could do some tiny fraction of this. Astonishing. Amazing.

Kristen
Kristen
12 years ago

Holy shit, you did it! Congratulations! I’m over here crying about the boys screaming “Mommy!” (so cute) and you should know that so many strangers are so proud of you! You are an inspiration to all of us.

Christine
12 years ago

Oh well done, a million times. I’ve only ever been on the other side of that “supporting the parent in their marathon” meeting, and it’s a great feeling to have been able to help in some little (or big) way by just getting the kids to the right place at the right time.

But the million-dollar question is, are you hooked? Are you going to do another?

Amanda Blair
12 years ago

Congrats. You are now a super hero in my eyes and I’m sure your kids eyes as well. Bravo!

JesC
12 years ago

Congratulations! Count me among the teary eyed – so inspirational!

MRW
MRW
12 years ago

Awesome! Congrats. Five hours sounds incredible to me! I probably couldn’t run 26.2 miles in under five days.

Jen
Jen
12 years ago

You are a ROCKSTAR! This was so awesome to read. Congratulations!!

jen
jen
12 years ago

You rock…congratulations!

Carrie (in MN)
Carrie (in MN)
12 years ago

You are the Awesome! This stranger is so so proud of you!!! Congratulations!

Joanne
12 years ago

Oh, are you kidding? I am crying too, wth? You look too good to have run all that mileage. Congratulations. Your boys must be so, so proud of you.

Jen - Mom of 4
Jen - Mom of 4
12 years ago

I’m crying just reading about it! Congrats Wonder Woman! You Did It!

Barb
Barb
12 years ago

OMG–YOU STILL ROCK!!!

Melissa
Melissa
12 years ago

Totally crying over here. Especially reading the parts about the boys and JB. Great job and you should be very proud of your hard work!

Rachel
12 years ago

You did it!!!!

I have never felt more proud of a person I have never met. Woo hoo!

Erika Peterson
12 years ago

You definitely DON’T look like you just ran 26.2 miles. You look great! Congrats! So, have you decided – will you ever run another marathon?!

sal
sal
12 years ago

Oh my god! Tears over here. Congratulations, Linda!

lisa
lisa
12 years ago

Treat yourself to something fantastic for just completing such a HUGE accomplishment. So so proud of you!!! I cant even fathom doing such a thing. You are an inspiration!

Nicole
12 years ago

Wow… Just, WOW! What an amazing thing to do for yourself and what a powerful example to set for your boys. Now whenever you are confronted with, “Mommy, I can’t do it, it’s too hard…” Your response will be, “Hard??? I’ll tell you what’s hard…” Congratulations!!!

Marci
Marci
12 years ago

I welled up when you talked about seeing your boys. : )

Congrats!!

JudithinNYC
JudithinNYC
12 years ago

Congratulations, Linda. You are an inspiration.

Lawyerish
12 years ago

Phenomenal. You’re a total hero, and I love how JB and the boys came out to support you throughout the race.

Now go shove every kind of junk food you can get your hands on into your mouth — you’ve more than earned it!!

Anna A
Anna A
12 years ago

Wow! Fantastic job and completely kick ass writing! Pretty fine way to start the week :-)

Bachelor Girl
12 years ago

So…

I may or may not have cried a little bit while reading this, but I neither confirm nor deny.

YOU ROCK SO FUCKING HARD, LADY! Congrats!

oregoncoastgirl
oregoncoastgirl
12 years ago

HUZZAH! Great job!

Meli
Meli
12 years ago

Wow Linda. Congratulations! This post made me cry. And I don’t even *KNOW YOU* know you.

How wonderful for you. GREAT GREAT JOB!

Dyane
12 years ago

Way to go, Linda, you rock!

Molly
Molly
12 years ago

Awesome job, awesome post.
Who would think a post about running 26(!) miles would leave me teary?

duodecad
duodecad
12 years ago

This post made me cry, too.

You are BEYOND AWESOME. It’s very strange to feel so proud of someone I don’t even know IRL :)

Molly
Molly
12 years ago

Totally tearing up in the airport. Felicidades! Well done girl!!!

Liz
Liz
12 years ago

I hope you frame the pic of you at the finish (either with or without JB). That smile on your face! So beautiful!

Now go eat.

Blabbermouse
12 years ago

So glad I wasn’t the only one who went all Cryer McCryerson at this post. You GO! Not that I had any doubt you would go … and go and go and go for 26.2 miles. Because you’re awesome. An inspiration. And a kick ass writer to boot.

Congratulations x 10!

P.S. Would love to get a physical report of how the bones and muscles are feeling in the aftermath. I’ve hesitated to do the full marathon, afraid I’ll do permanent damage to the hips and knees and have to give up running, which I love. Do you think you’ll do it again? Or are you on to the next challenge?

Blabbermouse
12 years ago

Sorry … I don’t actually want a PHYSICAL report. (Like printed out in triplicate and shit). I want a report of how you’re feeling physically.

:)Just to clarify.

lindsayc
lindsayc
12 years ago

How awesome. And I cried too. Congratulations!

AndrewENZ
12 years ago

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

I SO get this! Congratulations.

Brooke
Brooke
12 years ago

Holy crap! I normally don’t comment much, I do most of my reading at work (SHHH). But this, this brought tears to my eyes! I don’t even know you, but I’m proud of you. I’ve read while you’ve ran, and ran, and ran some more, and you’ve reached your goal. So awesome, and inspiring. And at the risk of even more crazy-fan gushiness… GO LINDA!!!

Maxine Dangerous
12 years ago

It may have already been said, but (pardon the screaming) YOU RAN FOR FIVE F*CKING HOURS. NEVER DOWNPLAY THAT FACT. :)Congrats! I thought of you on Saturday (race day?) when I was cracked out anew on Snow Patrol’s “Just Say Yes.” That would’ve gotten me through a long-ass run. If I ran. Which I don’t. :D

Meggish
12 years ago

Rock star! Rock star! Linda FTW!

(On a related note: OMG the Chariots of Fire music video is hilarious! Dude plays ONE NOTE and then takes a long drag on his cigarette, then just sits there. Priceless! Thank you for causing me to look that up.)

Amy M.
Amy M.
12 years ago

Congrats! What an accomplishment! And it’s great that all of your “boys” were there when you needed them most! :)

Rebecca (Bearca)
Rebecca (Bearca)
12 years ago

You are amazing! Way to go, Linda!

Christina
12 years ago

I am seriosly bawling while reading this.
You DID IT!
I am so inspired by you.

Shannon
Shannon
12 years ago

Hooray mama – congrats! I got all worried about you when a friend of ours had to quit about 3/4 through the local marathon on Saturday because the heat index was above 100 degrees here! Hooray again!

Marisa
Marisa
12 years ago

Congratulations! Welcome to the marathon runner club :) You look freaking fantastic in your pictures – you are so amazing and I love reading about the hard work that you do.

Donna
Donna
12 years ago

Do you realize that you have made more people cry than Titanic?
We are all so proud of you. 2 hundred and some comments proud. You should print all these, and if you ever wonder what you are doing with your life, read thru them.
Awesome….!!!

Meggan
12 years ago

Go print out these comments. Cut them into strips and put them in a jar. Next time you need a little shout out…you have 250 people whose lives you have touched and who think you are great (and we don’t even live with you!)

Amy
Amy
12 years ago

You are freaking amazing, woman! I can’t even get over the part when your kids were cheering you on. Honestly? I LOATHE running with a burning fire within, but you made me want to go sign up for a goddamned marathon right this instant. That’s how awesome this post was.

amanda
12 years ago

You rock girl. You are completely inspirational to this mom of one who REALLY needs to get her ass off the couch. No excuses.