See the girl in the blue jacket and super cool fanny pack? That's me, pushing through the last quarter mile of my first half marathon on Sunday. What you can't see are the mini-waterfall of raindrops cascading from the rim of my visor, the pat pat splash rhythm of 7,192 pairs of water-logged sneakers hitting asphalt, and the flash of relief washing over my face as a random spectator yelled, "The finish line is so close—just around the corner!"
In the moment this picture was taken (by my sweet fiance who waited patiently in the rain for me and my running buddy Kara, a bag of clean dry towels tucked under his arm), I could feel the culmination of all my training shove me forward. I breezed past Ms. purple coat and Mr. blue shoes (to the left in the photo above) and finished the race in four minutes less than my goal, 13.1 miles in a cool 2 hours and 6 minutes. After the finish line a volunteer handed me a medal, helped me wrap a crinkly foil blanket around my shoulders, and left me to be swept up by the mass of fellow finishers that surged like lava toward the food tent.
Fifteen or so minutes later I had reunited with Kara and John, and we were safely in the car, heat cranked up, dabbing our faces with towels. It was then that I found myself having one of those out-of-body experiences, spirit me staring down at pathetic drowned-rat post-race me in disbelief. This thing I'd been training for for almost a year had come and gone—just like that—and suddenly that instant when I was "just around the corner," buoyed by anticipation, felt like it was ages behind me. Though I was incredibly proud to now call myself an official half-marathoner, something about that "almost there" moment tugged at me. I wished it had lasted longer.
I mean, seriously. I could have finished an ultramarathon with a dislocated hip while joggling, and after (one would hope) a round of applause, I'd still have to do laundry when I got home and write my to-do list for the next day. Isn't it funny how the world keeps on keeping on, business as usual, no matter what monumental event has just occurred in our own lives? As I felt the moment slipping away, I wanted to poke my head out of the car window and yell, "Hey guys! Remember that half marathon I've been training for? Nailed it!" I didn't, of course, but I did do a burger cheers with Kara at our post-shower celebratory lunch. And then, the second I closed the door after sending Kara off, back to her life in Brooklyn, I remembered that I hadn't watered my seedlings in almost three days and that there were at least three unanswered emails from wedding vendors festering in my in-box. Back to life, back to reality.
Today, with only a few weeks to prep the garden before planting time, and a measly thirty-seven days to go before our wedding, I find myself "just around the corner" from two more significant finish lines. At the first, planting day, I'll reclaim my windowsills from make-shift seed-starter pots, tuck the grown seedlings into their new homes outside, and declare the start of a new growing season. At the second, our wedding day, I'll vow to create a whole life with John, till death and all that. Some might say it'll be the most important and significant day in my whole life, yet I know it will pass by just as quickly as last weekend's half-marathon. And then I'll start training for the next finish line...whatever that might be.