RACE DAY Miles 24-25
The man in the powder blue shirt is now a part of our little posse. He passes me on my walk breaks. I pass him back.
I call Julie. I don't know how I sound to her. I think I'm speaking coherently. I just want to get to 25. She's going to get the kids ready and wait for me at the finish line. We hang up and I get a little jolt from hearing her voice. Just for fun, Mother Nature brings the rain down a little harder one last time.
Oh, you minx, Mother Nature.
I'm doping this for Jake.
Then, clarity comes to me that I haven't experienced while running before. The spirituality of this entire race sweeps over my body and I feel enlightened. I am one with myself and with God. I may never run another marathon, but I have experienced the "high" I've always heard about. I'm exhilarated! This is a great day. The rain. The knee. They don't mean anything anymore. I've won. I've raised over 11,000 dollars to fight Cystic fibrosis. And Jacob is healthy. And Sophie is the sweetest little girl in the world. And Julie, my Julie, she is a jewel, a strong remarkable woman.
I’m going to finish strong (mind you, slow, but strong). I can't wait to see my family... my beautiful, loving, goofy, fun, glorious family at the end. I gather the strength to pass man in the powder blue one last time and leave in my dust (well, a few yards behind me).
"You made it to 25." says a Park Ranger as I pass the final water table.
I'm one mile from home.
This is the longest mile. We have to run along a canyon, so the next mile is laid out in front of us. We have to go from point A to point B and the whole stretch is in clear sight. I think, "I have to run that far?"
In the distance the cheers of the finish line echo off of the canyon walls. So cruel. A half mile from the end, Robert calls. He and Peter have just crossed the finish line. Peter did it! Way to go, man. Ever the coach, Robert is going to run back out a quarter mile and meet me to run in to the finish line. This is exactly what I need, the final push to help me cross with my head held up proudly.
I see him, smiling as always, and I adjust my form.
"Way to go, Scott. You were a warrior today. Bad knees and all, you did it."
The rain has scared off most of the spectators and there is a small crowd gathered at the finish line. I don't care if there were 1,000 or 10; there are only three people I need to see. I have no trouble finding Julie, Sophie and Jacob. The kids are wearing new shirts with picture of me with each of them individually. Written across them are the words, "Run, Daddy, run!"
As I pass my family, I get sarcastic. "I thought it was supposed to be sunny today."
An announcer calls out my name over the PA as I cross the finish line with my fist pumped and a huge smile on my face. It's done.