Camping was fine. And fun. We didn’t get there until well after dark. The boys were asleep in the car. Micah and I pitched the tent, woke the boys and put them in it, and got ready for bed. We played one card game, and then it was lights out. It rained for much of the night, but that was part of the fun. We woke up, packed up, and were out of there about 12 hours after we arrived. It was a short stay, but it left me eager to do it again, rain or shine, long or short. Long, I hope.
Now, the reason we left our campsite so soon, and the reason we chose last weekend to camp was because my sister was running her first marathon — the Hampton’s Marathon — and we wanted to cheer her on. She wanted to run a mile for each year of her life, and she turns 26 in a couple of weeks. I guess the .2 miles is something to grow on. I ran with her for a good chunk of it, but left her just before mile 24 so she could finish on her own.
I met up with her just before the 9 mile mark. We pulled off to the side of the road and as we were wondering if we’d missed her or not, there she was. Perfect timing. I ran after her with my camera and snagged a few pictures, then gave Micah the camera and chased her down. I’m so glad I did, so glad I got to run with her. She was quite the inspiration. We made each other cry several times, and laughed as well. She was in a lot of pain for the last 10 miles, but she kept at it and finished strong — well ahead of the “mark” I had set for her. I definitely got a little emotional when she crossed the finish line.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — as amazing as it is to run a marathon fast, I think it is even more amazing to finish when it hurts and the going is slow. It would be so easy to give up when there are so many miles left and each step is painful. But the reward for keeping at it is finding that it does get easier near the end of the race. And while I know that Abby was thrilled to finally finish, and that it was invigorating to hear everyone cheering for her, I don’t know if she realized that those who were cheering her on were probably just as inspired by her determination and her smile in the face of pain and discouragement as she was by their show of support.
It’s an awesome thing to run a marathon, but it’s pretty moving to stand on the sidelines and witness the iron wills that propel people through their pain and on to the finish line, knowing that at the end of the day, all they’ll get is a medal, a pair of sore legs, and the joy of having accomplished something truly difficult.