Somewhere around mile 14 I stopped, for just a moment. I was on that road that the farm is on, you know how it runs along both sides of the road? The corn is so high you can barely see over, but you can see over, and there is that tractor in the distance, just below the horizon. And the wind is blowing just so, and the sun is so bright and so warm that you can feel it from head to toe. And your legs feel amazing here at mile 14, with just 3 to go of the third 17 miler.
I never thought I would ever run 17 miles again. Or that I would want to.
It was in that moment I got a little emotional, I tend to do that. I am an emotional athlete, I cry at finish lines, I smile the whole way through ten-hour races. I have been known to just stop and hug people I don’t know.
I am just so grateful for this. Right here. Right now. Sometimes it bubbles over and I just have to let it all out. I thought I walked away from all of this, I really did. I didn’t think it was possible for me to find or even feel this again.
I have gone over the edge with all of this before and it took me years to get back to here.
I stepped close to that edge this weekend, but sometimes you have to get close to it, even look over it, to know it is still there and you still have those tendencies and you still need to be careful. And you have to listen when people you trust call you out on it. You have to believe them, and that they know your soul and that they love you enough to be honest. You pull yourself back, take a deep breath and remind yourself that the edge is kind of like your drug. Alluring yet disastrous at the same time. You have to know where that line lives.
And then you turn around and you look up at that sun, and you feel how it lights the whole world without compromise. Without hesitation. Without reservation. And man you feel that deep in your bones.
There are people in this country piecing their lives back together and here I stand, on this hill, by this farm, and it is not lost on me what a privilege this life is. I won’t waste it by staring into the past or regretting anything. I will keep doing what I have always done. Look forward and live as big as I can possibly live. Every single second of every single day.
It feels to feel so good again. It feels good to feel so strong again. We are sitting 9 weeks away from this marathon and just the thought of it makes my heart flutter. Not because I am nervous, not because I have afib, but because I can’t freaking wait. As a kid, my Dad used to tell me to put the butterflies into formation and let them fly.
I can’t wait to do just that. This time it’s not about the time or the podium. It’s about the experience of experiencing 26.2 miles without a 2.4-mile swim and 112-mile bike in front of it. These are the races you meet people you will never forget, yet you will never see again. These are the races where you realize that all you thought you should walk away from was really beautiful. Walking away would have denied you what you really love.
These experiences let me feel and they let me feel deep, and I love it. They crack me wide open and let me feel what I can’t articulate and breathe deeper than I otherwise can.
I finished those 17 miles with the biggest smile on my face, and that old ache in my legs…. it wasn’t there. The places these legs and this body has taken me….. I wish I could somehow capture it all. It’s more than traveling around the world, it’s more than ascending mountains.
It’s the sunsets I have seen. It’s the beautiful people I have seen them with. It’s the many hands I have gotten to hold in mine. It’s the many times I get to wrap my arms around the good souls of this world, and the way they hold me.
That’s what this all means to me.