Maybe my head needs to be examined. The Sav V grade I remembered doesn’t seem to exist. The hills keep rolling and I’m waiting for the long gradual downhill to the finish (I’m still waiting, by the way). No matter, I need to hold myself together until at least mile 20. What were once miles on cruise control become more labored. The legs start to feel achy. I have to engage my mind. “Keep your form. Keep your pace.” Mile 20 can’t get here soon enough.
What I thought was pain was nothing compared to what 22 to the end saved for me. Doing everything I could to maintain turnover, I start audibly grunting. I need an outlet from the inescapable pain because I know I have to go through it. There is no other option. As perverse as it sounds, it’s a gift to be able to. We so rarely do except in these moments.
2:49:33. At the moment it’s just a number. What is most satisfying is making it through the fire that is uncertainty and doubt. Within seconds, lightheadedness and pain demand my attention. I can barely stagger over to receive my medal. “Are you okay?” a concerned volunteer asks as they keep me upright. I lean into their body, eyes glazed over and whisper the only thought I can muster: “I had a dream run.”