I have a medal hanging from the mirror in my bedroom to remind me of quite possibly the hardest thing I've ever done, and that includes having kids.
On Oct. 27, I ran and finished the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., in 4 hours and 29 minutes. It was the end of four months of physical and mental training.
The medal on my mirror isn't just mine. It belongs to everyone else who helped me in my quest to cross off an item that until two years ago was never even on my bucket list.
I am incredibly proud of myself for doing something only 0.5 percent of the U.S. population has done. And while my feet are the ones that did the running, a lot of other people worked hard to help me do it.
First is my family. My husband, Chris, may get frustrated that I always have "to get a run in," he is so supportive of my hobby (obsession) that I wouldn't be able to do it without him. While I try to make my runs as least disruptive as possible, I can't tell you how good he was about taking care of the kids weekend after weekend while I went on one of my long runs, which three-quarters of the way through got up to 3 to 4 hours at a time.
Then there are my kids, Henry, 4, and Emily, 3, who also had to put up with my running, and sometimes even come along. Emily likes it, Henry not so much. I've spent a fair number of hours away from them and pounding the pavement, though maybe they'd rather have Grandma or Mom Mom (who babysat so I could run) over instead of have me home.
There are no words to describe what it was like for me to see my favorite faces in the world along the MCM course. Chris and the kids, my parents, my brother and his kids, and our friends the Roseberrys, who we used to live next door to before they moved to Bolling Air Force Base and who put us up the night before the race, all battled the crowd to catch a glimpse of me as I ran by.
I got such a big hug from Henry when I saw them around Mile 15 that it carried me the rest of the way. It was just what I needed.
Then there's my friend, Laura Finney, who's the reason I ran a marathon. We've been running buddies for a few years, and our sons are the same age. We've raced together, mostly 5Ks and a few half-marathons, and run together. We've complained to each other and I know she's supported me. I'm not sure she realizes how much.
Laura runs for Wear Blue: Run to Remember, a wonderful organization that helps families of fallen military members. She got involved after her then-boyfriend, Lance Cpl. Patrick Adle, of Fallston, was killed in Iraq in June 2004. She runs for him.
Wear Blue gave Laura a free entry into MCM, and I figured if Laura could run a marathon, so could I. Our recent running careers have been parallel. So I found an entry and I was in.
I went in with a goal to finish, and not to walk. I did the former, but not the latter. Though I only walked for probably a quarter-mile at the last mile, it took several weeks before I could accept that that was OK. And it is. My time was slower than I would have liked, but it was darn hard near the end. Those last five miles were the worst I've ever run.
And yet, I'm ready to run another. Not today, not in a week or a month, but sometime. Maybe I'll do one a year, traveling to cool places where we can vacation as a family, or just with Chris. We'll see.
That marathon training was physically and mentally all consuming. I got to a point where I couldn't think about anything else - including my daughter's birthday, our upcoming vacation, anything - until after it was over.
Which it is. "Mission Accomplished," as my medal says. It's over, it's done and I'm reveling in my accomplishment, one I owe to so many others. Thank you all for your support.