As I crossed the finish line at the Portland Marathon, it wasn't with a sense of euphoria. It wasn't satisfaction either. Relief is probably the closest emotion that I can think of. The thing I remember focusing on the most was trying not to fall down as I received my medal and space blanket. I was pretty wobbly as I watched a lady in front of me nearly collapse before she was caught by two volunteers. I told myself to keep moving.
There was plenty of food. Since Portland is the "City of Roses", each finisher gets a rose. A volunteer offered me one but I declined, telling her "It's too heavy." She laughed. You also get a pin, a finisher's shirt and a tree seedling which I also declined.
I went to look for my wife, struggling through the crowd. I think my first words to her were "I need to stretch." and "I want to sit down." I told her about how I was disappointed that I had been reduced to walking for a couple of miles. But she didn't care; she was so proud of me. I finished and that was what mattered.
It took a few days but I had more time to reflect on things. I now can look back and not focus on the negatives. No, I didn't reach my goal time and I wasn't mentally strong enough to keep running but I could have packed it in. I gutted it out and finished strongly.
It was hard, really hard. For days after the race, my legs weren't just stiff, the joints hurt. But, it was all worth it. I faced a challenge that I've been dreaming about for years and got the job done.
On to the next challenge... whatever that may be.