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Minor Miracles and Marathons

One week ago, I completed the Portland Marathon. Even as I started out, I truly did not expect to finish, because two weeks ago, I hurt my feet. Initially, I thought my feet would heal within the week and I would be able to do the marathon, but at the week wore on, my feet weren’t getting better. So, I slowly came to the realization that I would be watching my friends run the marathon, not participating myself.

Down in Portland, however, my mom suggested that I invest in some new shoes, since the ones I had were fairly battered. I thought it was a bad idea, because breaking in new shoes during a marathon didn’t seem that smart. But then my friend Scott, who run done a few marathons in his time, agreed with her, saying that good running shoes don’t actually need to be broken in. Thus I found myself in a Sports Authority on Saturday night buying new shoes.

Also on Saturday, I spent some quality time in a hot tub, which seems to have, in large part, miraculously healed the blistering and bruising on my right foot. Combined with the new shoes, I suddenly started believing again. Maybe I could complete the marathon. I really wanted to get this out of the way, because during training I discovered that I didn’t like long-distance running at all, and if I didn’t finish the marathon now, it would bother me until I finally did, so getting it out of the way was pretty important to me.

And thus, I found myself on the start line of the 2009 Portland Marathon, in new shoes, new shorts, new socks, and wondering how far I was going to go. I started out by walking. I found that by turning my left foot a little further out than normal, combined witht eh new shoes, I could eliminate the pain that I usually felt in that foot. The right foot, as discussed earlier, seemed to have spontaneously healed in a hot tub. Or maybe it just got better all week and I didn’t notice until after getting out of the hot tub, but that story isn’t as fun. And so I walked. And walked. And walked.

A few miles in, I was feeling alright, but I was still skeptical about my chances of finishing — after all, the previous week, I had felt pretty good until a popped blister suddenly halted my progress. When asked by my cheering family if I thought I would finish, I simply shrugged, and kept on walking. About 10 miles in, still walking, I noticed that my left knee was protesting a little to my left foot’s new outward position, so I started changing the position of my left foot around a little, which helped enough to keep going.

At the half way mark, I actually started to believe for real. I was slowly feeling worse, but I could tell that the rate at which I was feeling worse would get me well past the finish line. So I continued to walk, miles slowly ticking off as I continued to pound sports drink and occasional gummy bears from enthusiastic volunteers.

Walking gives one a lot of time to talk to people around you, since it certainly isn’t your respiratory system that is maxed out. I met a few nice ladies (I seemed to be in the pace preferred by 50-60 year old women), and generally had a good time, depsite the creeping pains.

Around mile 24, I started flirting with the idea of running the rest of the way, but I found that it was hard to get myself to change the motion that I had been doing for six hours already. At mile 25, however, I actaully did start running, albeit slowly. Even at the barely-running pace, I was quickly passing people, which helped me keep it up. But I promised to myself that I would actaully kick up my feet and really run after mile 26. Thus mentally preparing myself, I found that I actually could do it this time, and I came across the finish line considerably faster than anyone else around me.

Six hours, fifty-five minutes after I crossed the start line, I finished a marathon.

It was nice to be done.