Sprinting to the finish line had taken everything out of me, and I suddenly felt completely and totally exhausted. I was still walking, but I can’t say the same for all of the runners who crossed with me. Many crossed the finish line only to collapse on the ground. Some simply stopped and bent over, overcome with pain and emotion. I kept walking, but I had tears in my eyes.
I didn’t know if Michael and Dominique had made it to the finish line or not, so I followed the rest of the runners as we were tended to by the volunteers. I have never been congratulated and fussed over so much by any other set of volunteers after a race. We were immediately offered water—as many bottles as we wanted—and then given space blankets. Next, another person put a little piece of tape at the neck of the blankets to keep them closed, and then a volunteer passed out little black lunch bags that had chips, an orange, and a granola bar inside. We kept walking, and I wondered if I would ever receive a medal. Finally, we made our way to a table where the medals were given out. I noticed that every single volunteer made a huge deal out of placing the medal carefully over each runner’s head and congratulating them. I loved all the personal attention, and thought of all the races I’ve run where someone wordlessly hands you a medal at the finish and doesn’t even put it around your neck.
Next, I needed to find the bus with my bag so I could find Michael and Dominique. Like everything else about this marathon, finding my bag was easy and very organized. I walked to the end of the bus line and realized I had made it all the way back to Arlington St., one mile from the finish line and one block from the hotel. It was too much. I sat down in the middle of the street, wondering if I would be able to get back up. I have never felt such complete and utter exhaustion. I took off my Nike Free’s and socks ( I love you Free’s and Injinjii socks!!!!) and assessed the damage: one small blister on my left big toe.
I called Michael and left a message: “Please come and get me. I can’t make it back to the hotel by myself.” I left the same message for Dom. Come to find out, I really had beat them to the finish line. I threw on my Teva flip flops just as Michael and my daughter walked up, and we made the slow walk back to the hotel. I was very, very tired.
There was a long line of runners and family members in the elevator line at the hotel, but it didn’t matter. As long as I didn’t have to run, I was happy. I saw Will in the lobby and was shocked to hear that he had finished less than two minutes ahead of me. We both qualified at St. George with almost the same time, and we both finished Boston with almost the same results—and I hadn’t seen him once the entire day.
Up in the room, I lay down on the floor for the longest time and didn’t move. Dominique drew a hot bath for me and I spent thirty minutes soaking and thinking about the race. We discussed dinner, even though I had no appetite, and Michael and Dominique decided to go out for a beer so I could take a nap. I have never felt so tired in my life as I did after Boston.
I rested but couldn’t sleep. Steve called to tell me he and his family were downstairs in McCormick’s and Schmick’s, but I was too tired to even go down and meet them. I was amazed to hear that he had also struggled and finished two minutes ahead of me. Just like Will, how could we have missed each other the entire day?
Michael made a reservation at McCormick and Schmick’s for dinner, thinking we could finally get clam chowder, but I ordered lobster bisque and a Caesar salad instead. I had no appetite—which usually happens to me after a marathon—and my head was so congested I couldn’t taste a thing anyway. I ordered a celebratory beer but couldn’t enjoy it because of how I felt. After all the fuss the night before, none of us ordered clam chowder.
Back in the room, I was too tired to do anything but watch TV from bed. Michael and Dominique were both tired as well, and I don’t remember falling asleep. The next day I cried when I said goodbye to my daughter, then Michael and I caught our flight back to Dallas. I wore my Boston jacket for the first time, proud to be a new member of the club. I felt worse than I did the day before, and the descent into Dallas felt like sharp needles were being stuck into the sinus cavity above my left eye. It was all I could do not to cry.
Two days later I went to the doctor. Prognosis: sinus infection and bronchitis. Armed with penicillin, two different asthma inhalers, Nasonex, and a prescription for cortisone, I spent the next two days home from school, resting, writing, and reflecting on this incredible adventure.