We stopped at mile marker 18 to take a photo together. We made it to “the wall”. And I hit that wall at full force. I felt like there was nothing left in me, We struggled on, fighting against my legs which didn’t want to move, we kept taking one step after the other, breathing into my gloves to get some warm air into my lungs. We pushed on towards mile 19, right before entering the Bronx. Joan wanted me to stop at the medical tent to warm up and see how my breathing was. They wrapped me up from head to toe in a warm wool blanket, and gave us pretzels and OJ. We sat there for about 10 minutes before my body stopped shaking but my lips were still purple.
Maybe if I wasn’t sick at the time, maybe if I didn’t have that asthma attack a month earlier, there are so many maybe’s that keep running though my mind. Maybe if things were different we would have decided to keep pushing on, mind over body. But because of my recent exacerbation, neither of us wanted to push too hard and risk something serious so we made the crushing decision to stop there.
At that exact moment I felt defeated, like a failure, I had disappointed everyone, most importantly I disappointed myself. We got on the bus which was already full of ‘drop outs’. I didn’t want to be one of them. I wanted to cross that finish line and get my medal.
Side story…the bus ride…oh, the horrible bus ride. Not only because of how I was feeling but we had the worst driver ever! Instead of sticking to the route he was supposed to take he announces that he’s skipping the other stops because the bus is full and we’re going directly to Central Park. Good right? Wrong. The guy makes every wrong turn he could possibly make, instead of pointing out to the police he was a “official marathon bus” badge so we can turn down the closed streets he drives all the way down to 53rd street and is headed to Times Square. We’ve been on the bus for over an hour already and it looks like we will be on at least another hour the way he was driving. Joan turn to me and says “I’m sorry, I have to pee, I have to get off the bus!” So we talk to the driver who drops us off on 53rd and 5th. We stop to use the restroom at a bar and then walk to 78th and Central Park West. Close to a two mile walk. Thanks for the ride bus driver!!
We picked up our belongings from the UPS trucks, bundled up in our hoodies and sweats, finally cozy warmth, and met up with our family outside the park. I was still bummed out about not finishing, and there was still a lot worth celebrating so we went to get burgers and beer at a place in the village. I don’t think I have ever eaten a burger that fast in my life. I was starving.
As much as that moment, the moment when I had to say, I’m dropping from the race, crushed my spirit, I know I accomplished so much more. From the beginning of this journey it was never about crossing the finish line, but more about challenging myself and pushing myself to be a better me. And I succeeded. I ran 19 miles, a personal best. Seven months earlier I couldn’t even run a mile without getting out of breath. I was able to increase my lung function over 50%. I learned so much about myself and have become a stronger person. This journey also brought me closer to the CF community by sharing my story, starting a blog and meeting others who share in my struggles. I met some incredible people by being part of Team Boomer and together we made a difference. My story was shared on the NYRR website and my CF clinic is sharing my success with younger CFers to encourage them to exercise. I feel very proud to have accomplished what I did in those 7 months.
Now here I sit, 10 days after the marathon with a PICC in my arm waiting for my nurse to ring my doorbell to change the dressing. Who goes from a marathon to IV meds? All in a normal day for a CFer!
So now what? I’m going to continue running and swimming. I’ll probably run about 10-15 miles a week (3 days a week) and swim 1-2 days a week. It will be nice to run just for fun, not with a set distance or set pace in mind. Just get outside with my IPod and run. I want to run a few ½ marathons including the one in Disney World. And part of me, the competitive side, still wants to cross that finish line and get my medal. So maybe I’ll be out there again in a few years! Anyone want to join me!?