I set my alarm early Thursday morning so I could hit the road to my sister’s house. I was packed and ready to go and as the skies opened up and it began to pour down rain, I had a little talk with God. See, I don’t ever get a chance to get away and do things just for me. This was my weekend with my sister, and I wanted it to be perfect. So I looked up to the skies and said, “Please, God? Please? Can you just give me a little break?” And as I turned on the exit ramp for interstate 294, blue skies appeared, and I smiled. He DOES listen. 🙂
We hit the road to my parents house, and had such a fun time with them. We ate pizza, had a couple drinks, and spent the evening talking. It was SO nice just to catch up, the four of us.
The road trip to Duluth was so much fun. We laughed, sang 80’s music at the top of our lungs, and yelled at careless drivers who made the left lane their resting place vs. using it as a passing lane
(as it should be used), LOL. “Don’t F#%! with the flow!” we would yell and I couldn’t help but smile continuously. The last time my sister and I had any sort of time together was in 2007 after the passing of my grandfather. This, was a much nicer trip.
As we drove over the sky line coming in to Duluth, Guns and Roses blasted and tears filled my eyes. HOME. This is where I lived growing up until graduating high school and leaving for the Air Force in 1991. This…this was home. And although I left without looking back 24 years ago almost to the date, I am now able to remember the good memories I had in Duluth. We visited my schools, elementary (now apartment buildings), junior high (no longer a school), and my high school. We drove past the home we grew up in, and visited some of my favorite places in the city. We also had an amazing lunch, overlooking Lake Superior and had fun eavesdropping on fellow runners that sat near us. We also coveted their fish and chips, so much so that Bobbi changed her mind and ordered it for lunch! YUM! I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day with my sister. I unfortunately didn’t get to meet up with any of my fellow bloggers that were running the race, but I felt my time with my sister/family was much needed and more important.
We hit up the expo, got all kinds of cool stuff, and headed back to our hotel to meet Bobbi’s friends, Carrie and Riyanti. We ended the day wrapped up with all kinds of runner love at my old track buddy from high school parent’s house for dinner. Loads of pasta and meatballs, and all gluten free! YUM!!!!
The original agreement was, that my sister and I would run this race TOGETHER. That meant no matter what pace, we would stick together and have fun. Sadly, my sister had been dealing with a crabby calf the week prior, but I still told her I wanted to stick with her for the race. The only way I’d go on without her, is if she decided to not finish the race.
So…we awoke at O’dark 30, and boarded the first bus at 5:45. We had an amazing bus driver who stopped the bus to move barricades so that we wouldn’t be late. The excitement was building as we drove up the shore to Two Harbors where the race was set to start. Our forecast was 100% chance of rain, but we still were smiling. We arrived an hour before the race started which gave us plenty of time to use the porta-potties (twice) and get our gear bags checked. We got a sneak peak at the start line as the elites started to show up!
And then, it started to rain…We decided the rain wasn’t going to damper our spirits so we danced and sang as the rain continued to pour down. We saw Eric who had already ran from the finish line in Duluth UP to Two Harbors, AMAZING. When Mother Nature decided to announce her presence and POUR down rain for a good 30 minutes, we found it harder to smile, and even harder to keep warm. But the runners squeezed into the corrals which helped due to the body heat a little…
The gun went off at 7:45 AM, and we crossed the start line around 3 minutes later. We settled in to around an 11:30/11:45 pace, and despite some GI issues on my part we were feeling good. Bobbi’s calf was bothering her, but she had hoped it would calm down. We stopped for selfies once the rain subsided just before the halfway point and by this point Bobbi knew it was going to be a struggle to finish. She could walk, but running was really bothering her. She kept trying to send me off to finish the last half of the race, and the deep down competitive person in me wanted to run and finish the race strong. But seeing her struggling like she was made me realize, I needed to stay with her. I needed to put my selfish wants aside, and finish this race with my sister. And I can honestly say it’s the best decision I’ve made in a long time.
The next 13 miles were filled with laughter, tears, cussing, beer drinking, parental hugs, high fives, pottie stops, selfies, gimpy shuffling, friends cheering, strangers motivating and digging deeper than I think I ever have in my life. The sun even came out for a few miles, and this helped brighten our spirits. Mile 20 we saw my parents, and were greeted by spectators with BEER! Carbs, right?!?! It was all about fun at this point!!!
When we hit mile 22, and the temps dropped and it started to rain again I questioned whether or not I could keep going. But when I turned to Bobbi and saw tears in her eyes I asked, “What can I do?” and she choked back more sobs and said, “You are already doing all the things.” And I cried.
See, I’ve been selfish a lot in my life. But in working towards being a better me, I’ve really tried to put the important people in my life first. And Saturday, I did just that. Because I love my sister more than words can describe.
Mile 23, my Garmin died, and it continued to rain…I was cold. So. Very. Cold. Bobbi gave me her rain poncho despite being cold herself (I stupidly ditched mine when the sun came out), and we trudged on. Her limping, me shuffling, us both COLD and hurting. More talks with God happened, and I simply prayed for strength for us to finish. Mile 25 we saw Carrie, Riyanti, and our folks just past them. Lots of hugs. And more tears. With just a mile to go, and lots of photographers we put on our brave faces and walked/shuffled on. We weren’t going to make it under 6 hours, but we were going to finish. As we entered the final leg into the finish line I had to choke back the sobs. We did it. We battled injury, elements, and mental demons that tried to keep us from finishing. We gathered our medals and tee-shirts from Carly, wrapped ourselves in our mylar blankets and picked up our gear. We were spent, and needed to get warm. After long hot showers we relaxed for a while, and went out for dinner at Pizza Luce. You can bet I ordered my traditional Bloody Mary, and received a side car as a bonus. Gotta love Duluth!!
My sister said this was our personal worst in regards to time, and she’s right. But I call it a personal best in regards to effort because while maybe not the smartest of running happened that day, you couldn’t have ordered up more effort and heart than those displayed in those last 5 miles.
Marathon number 3, complete. Lessons learned: Never give up even in the toughest conditions…Never leave your wingman…even if you have STRONG training, you never know what race day will hand to you…it’s amazing the power of a child’s high five, a cheer, your people on the side lines cheering you on, and the encouragement of a stranger. And at the end of the day, all you can do is your best with the conditions race day gives you, so try and enjoy even the smallest of moments.
Thanks so much for the amazing support during my training!!! The last 18 weeks, and this race, have proved to me that I can do anything I set my mind to in life!!! ❤
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