On May 1, 2016, I stood at the finish line of the Lincoln Marathon. I was a volunteer, trying desperately to move the crowds of finishers along as they got to the tunnel within Memorial Stadium. I had volunteered a few hours the day before at packet pickup, but I wasn’t as prepared for marathon day as I had hoped. It was cold, my body ached and I had to leave about an hour early as my left side cried for some relief.
What a difference a year makes.
The 2017 Lincoln Half-Marathon was my fifth half-marathon. It should have been my sixth, maybe seventh, but things changed as we know now. It wasn’t always an easy journey to get where I am, but I got here.
That journey is a big reason I cried at the starting line and again when I finished. To think I had stood not far from where I was handed my medal, desperate to just keep standing only one year before, was something I couldn’t get over. All of the emotions that poured out of me, especially at the finish line, were in response to everything that had happened over the previous year and a half. It was joy, sadness, excitement and everything in between.
I’ll never forget Jim, who stopped me at the finish line, right as I grabbed my medal. We know each other thanks to Twitter, and he formally introduced himself. He was volunteering this year, anxious to get back in the race next year. I cried as he hugged me, and it was a genuine moment I’ll never forget.
That’s the thing about this community – my community. It has never failed. It never feels deserved, but I am thankful for it.
To Kyle for battling back from the same journey as I did and crossing that finish line even stronger. To my mom for her constant support and sign-making. To Jenny, Brett, Harper and Hadley for the smiles on Sheridan. To Nancy, Laura, Kyra and Camden for the hugs on 48th (although Camden technically just stared at me like I was crazy). To Libby for the extra cheers when she spotted me on the course. To the little girl who yelled “Girl Power!” as I gave her a high-five on South. To Erin and her boys for the high fives and cheers on the trail. To the pacer who encouraged me forward on 10th street. To Jim for the hugs and taking my photo as I stood at the finish line. To every person that tweeted and messaged me support and encouragement. There are no words to truly thank you.
It wasn’t my fastest race – I ended around 2:45 – but I finished. And considering one year ago I stood in the same spot unable to even finish my volunteer shift, finishing is all that matters.
On to the next.