I was running through a field. The ground was passing quickly under my feet and I could feel the wind against my face. My legs jerked against the plastic brace holding my knee together as I transitioned from a deep dream filled sleep to awake. It was a dream. I couldn't run. I couldn't even walk. Even if I didn't weigh 400 pounds, my recent fall on the ice left me immobile and confined to my bed. My weight, combined with a slip walking to my car, resulted in every muscle in my leg being torn away from my patella. The doctors drilled holes to reattach the torn ligaments. I lost the majority of the cartilage under my kneecap in the process. My doctor told me that with some physical therapy I'd walk again, but that I'd need a total knee replacement in a few years, and that I'd have some very severe arthritis.
I remember talking to my mom after that dream. I remember being deeply depressed, telling her that I had a dream about running, and that my injury would keep me from ever being able to run. “Well, lets face it,” she said, “It's not like you were going to be running any marathons anyway.” She was right. It was a rediculous notion.
There was one time in my life that I had legitimately tried to run. I was in first grade. I was the fat kid. There was this girl...Courtney. Courtney was the pretty, popular girl. I was enamored by her, pretty much everyone was. It was gym class. I was supposed to race her. Why? I don't remember. The teacher said go, and we ran. It was my first time (but hardly my last) being “chicked.” Courtney announced to the class that she wasn't even running, she just had walked fast for the win. I was crushed. That was the end of my first running career.
These stories, and a thousand other points of interest in the timeline of my life, were running through my head Saturday morning as I lined up with 9,000 other runners in the dark, cold 27 degree morning air, to run my first marathon. I've come a long way since that first cold morning that left me in the hospital with a messed up knee. I've become brave, and strong. I've become a person that I'm proud to be, a person that doesn't always succeed but always perseveres.
There wasn't a time that I was in danger of DNFing. There were many times that I had to talk myself out of walking. Around 22 miles in I was pretty gone. Was this the dreaded wall? I was at a point where I knew continuing to run at my current pace would result in a finish I couldn't walk away from. I chose to keep going, true, but not at that moment. That choice was made in the thousands of decisions that have defined me, and have gotten me to the starting line. So, that's the truth I found in the marathon. There was no wall for me. There was no one defining moment in the race that I had to push through and reach the other side of. There was my dream of running when I couldn't, there was my race with courtney, there was Lana waiting for me at the finish line, and as always there were the people that would take great pleasure in my failure. The choice had already been made a thousand times over, and four hours, eleven minutes, and 35 seconds after the gun went off, I proved it.