Brian and I decided to train for a marathon 5 months ago- right before we moved to London. We did our first run together in Maryland at the Jewkes Family Reunion. Let me begin by saying that this would be Brian's second marathon and my third time training for one. I have been plagued by injuries in the past- on the weekend that I was supposed to run my first marathon, I ended up having to get my knee scoped and at the second marathon in St. George, my knee literally locked up at mile 7 and I could not even bend it, so had to quit. That was an extremely emotional experience for me and I concluded that marathons just weren't for me- my body was telling me not to do it any more. So, when Brian mentioned that he was going to train for one, I was excited for his goal, but didn't think much of it for myself. However, I decided it would be fun to train together until it got to be too much, and then I would bow out and let him continue.
During the move, it was so nice to have a reason to get up earlier and earlier every morning as our runs got longer and longer. It was our chance to talk about life, catch up and just be together, which ended up being so valuable to both of us during such a crazy time. Plus, there is something so magical about being outside when the sun is rising and getting to know your city when there are hardly any people or cars about. And, I slowly got hooked on the running again- we never ran for speed, just completion- which was so nice... I never got too worked up about an impending long run- both because I knew I wasn't doing it alone and there was no pressure to finish by a certain time.
One of the best parts of the training was doing it all over the world- Brian and I completed runs around Hyde, Kensington and Regents Parks exploring so many parts of this amazing city we live in. We also ran in the States- Texas, California, and Maryland. Brian ran during his visit to Singapore, we both ran 15 miles through the valleys of the Swiss Alps and 7 in the capitol of Bern, then 12 miles in the wee hours of the morning in Paris- by the Eiffel Tower and along the Seine River. Short tapering runs were done in Falaise, Normandy as well as Cascais, Portugal. Our most memorable, longest training (22 miles!) and darkest run was started at 2:45 am in Regents Park so that we could finish by 7 AM, enabling us to make it in time to the temple. Runs that we will never forget and that we are so incredibly grateful for. You get to see so much more of your world when you're on your own two feet, and especially in the stillness of the morning. There really is nothing quite as exhilarating.
When we went to Portugal, we had the best babysitters ever for our girls (Elle's aunt and uncle, Charity and Ian). So, we didn't worry for a second about our girls and I doubt they missed us at all. We stayed in the coastal town of Cascais, where the race would start. We splurged on a nicer hotel, so we could relax and go to their spa for massages after the race, and it was worth every penny. Like the video above shows, the weather was looking brutal...a major storm came in Friday night and surged on most of Saturday. We did a warm-up run Saturday morning and came back completely and totally drenched, spirits very low. The wind was brutal and caused the rain to pelt at an angle that actually stung your skin. It was pretty unsettling because the weather was slated to get worse. We headed to Lisbon, picked up our packets, spent some time around the city and the sun even came out for a little bit! By nightfall, it was gorgeous out and perfect for exploring, which we did a little bit of. We carb-loaded at an outdoor Italian cafe by the Terreiro do Paço and then headed home for some rest.
When we woke up, it was lightly raining. After eating a light breakfast, we walked to the start of the race, 5 minutes away. It rained for a moment, which soaked our shoes, but we were so glad when the morning fog lifted and the skies were perfectly blue. The race started nicely...the first half wound right along the coast, by the gorgeous beaches and through cute beach towns. We quickly realized, though, that the conditions were still less than ideal. We trained in perfect running weather- 40/50 degrees back in London. The day was quickly turning warm- 70 degrees and very humid due to the rain. And, it was still pretty windy. We drank at every stop and weren't starting out too fast, just trying to enjoy the course.
At mile 13, Brian's hamstring suddenly tweaked out of nowhere and he had to stop. He told me to keep running, so I did. I did not like leaving him behind, not knowing if he would be okay, or if he would even be able to finish. You can see in his course map above that he didn't quit, but he had to stop and stretch and walk in several places. I'm sure that his body and mind were doing everything they could to keep him going and its absolutely amazing that he kept on when he was in so much pain for so long. I don't know how he did it.
Around mile 20, after the Golden Gate Bridge, things got tougher. I knew I had about an hour left and I wasn't going to quit. I kept telling myself, "I can do this, I will do this". I knew if I stopped running, it would be hard to start again so I didn't let myself take a break. I had trained so hard for so long through so much, giving up was not an option. I hit mile 25, right in the heart of downtown Lisbon, surrounded by crowds of people on all sides, yelling "Forca!". This is when all of my emotions came to a head and I was just crying and totally overwhelmed with the accomplishment that I had dreamed of for so long and tried so hard to achieve. I was about the cross the finish line of a marathon! So many big thoughts were running through my head like all the places Brian and I had been so lucky to train in, the power and strength and determination of the human spirit, setting and reaching big goals, hard work, the gift of the human body and its incredible capacity, so much stuff. I couldn't control my emotions as tears spilled down my face, I sprinted in the last quarter mile, wanting to finish strong despite the pain. And, I did it...I finished and it was one of the hardest, best, most amazing things I've ever done. It sounds crazy, but it was a very spiritual experience to push my body so far and to overcome pain and doubt and see my will triumph towards a huge goal. It was just incredible to experience that feeling.
Brian finished a little while later, and when we saw each other, we both embraced and no words were needed- just so much love and respect for each other, and awe for the race we had completed together in Lisbon.