On October 11 at 2:17 pm CST I joined the 1% of the human population that will run a marathon in their lifetime. I crossed that finish line with over 45,000 of my closest friends yesterday and I couldn't be more in awe.
I have spent the last 6 months preparing for this one moment. I've seen the sun rise, I've hit the pavement in Missouri, California, New Jersey, Illinois, and North Carolina, I've been through two pair of sneakers and have run over 300 miles in training for this one moment. There have been tears, laughter, feelings of doubt, feelings of strength, and more. But looking at that finish line yesterday and telling Emily that now we need to take this in, is a moment I will never forget.
All of this wouldn't have been possible without some really important people, places, and things. This is in no particular order:
Thank you, Bright Pink, for letting me be a part of your team and letting me help such an amazing organization continue to educate women on breast and ovarian health.
Thank you, St. Louis and Forest Park, for being my training ground and for always being clean and having safe paths for runners.
Thank you, Mizuno for having the best sneakers around and keeping me shin splint and injury free (for the most part)!
Thank you Gatorade, chocolate milk, Nuun tablets, bananas, GU, Luna Bars and chewy bars for being my constant fuel and keeping me healthy, hydrated, and strong.
Thank you Nike+ for letting me track my miles on the app over the past few months-such an easy and awesome program to use.
Thank you, Jeff Galloway for making such a great training program that let me finish upright and smiling.
Thank you, to my podiatrist, for giving me the best action plan on fighting plantar fasciitis and tendonitis 10 days before the marathon.
Thank you, to my ZTA sisters from around the world for sending me well wishes, positive vibes, and more. Additionally, shout out to my George Mason sisters and STL Alumnae Chapter sisters for the support.
Thank you, to my ZTA sister and friend, Heather for being a great support, resource and guidance throughout this whole process. I know you're going to own the five boroughs in just a few short weeks!
Thank you to my Pi Phi coworkers and friends for donations, carb loading with me, running with me (Alex and Bree!) and listening to me weekly talk about the marathon.
Thank you to my sweet friend, Vanessa. Vanessa ran her first half marathon the same weekend I did my race and I couldn't ask for a better friendship and support system
Thank you to every single donor who helped me raise over 1300 dollars for Team Bright Pink - you are all incredible.
Thank you to all the volunteers (especially Lindsay!) at the marathon for keeping us healthy, safe, hydrated and cared for.
Thank you to the 1.7 million spectators for encouraging the heart, cheering on the runners and having the best signs ever (Shout out to the one that said: "There's no time for Christopher Walken"). You all are super heroes and amazing. Special shout out to the nursing home spectators, the spectators in Boystown, and those at the last two miles. You are rockstars!
Thank you to the city of Chicago for your hospitality. You welcomed in so many visitors this weekend with open arms and as a runner I cannot thank you enough!
Thank you to Big River Running Company in St. Louis for having a great training team and store. While I didn't make it every weekend to training team, whenever I did come I always felt welcomed and supported.
Thank you to my sweet friend Emily, for training for this with me from afar and getting through this race with me. I couldn't have done it without you and I couldn't have imagined finishing a marathon with anyone else. We truly did this and I owe a lot of finishing this to you. You truly encourage the heart and I am so thankful for you!
Thank you Branden, for being a great support for me. Words can't describe how thankful I am for you spending your birthday with me, listening to me for months talk about this day, and always being there for me. I promise this is the last time I'll talk about the race...this week.
Thank you to my "cheer squad", Mom, Aunt Dode, Branden, and Michelle, for all traveling far and wide to the marathon for me. Nothing was greater than seeing you all at different points in the race, it only pushed me to do more. I will never forget the day - especially since it ended with pizza.
Thank you to my Mom, Dad and Biagio for always believing in me and supporting me in doing what I once thought was the impossible. I love you guys and if I do this again I'll run that marathon with you Pops! Also, thank you for getting me my "Finisher" jacket!
Lastly, thank you to anyone who thought of me, sent me a message, wrote on my Facebook, called, tracked me and more. It really means everything to me. When the going got rough, it was those messages and comments and more that made me realize how many people were behind me and cared about me, and that I thank you for.
What makes the marathon the marathon is the last 6.2 miles. In training typically your long run will never go past 20 - 22 miles. Those 6.2 miles is where you need to "dig deep", run with your heart and know that it is mind over matter. What got me here is thinking how far I have come. Three years ago I was just running my first 5k. Before that I was unhappy, unhealthy and unmotivated. Running is what got me through 2 major life transitions, it's gotten me through anxiety and depression, it's helped my self confidence and it's brought me closer to people and given me connections to people I never would have had. And while it's so easy for me to feel bad for constantly talking about this hobby I have, I shouldn't - it's changed me. Yesterday I felt the happiest, strongest and most confident ever. It was like me at my best times 10 and it was incredible – and I know that feeling will stay. Beyond the physical aspect of training for a marathon, it takes patience, perseverance, self acceptance, and discipline - and that is huge.
Olympian runner and record breaker Deena Kastor once said, "Sometimes the moments that challenge us the most, define us" and I could honestly say I full heartedly believe this.