When I was a teenager, I remember making one of those “life goals” lists. One of the items was “Run a marathon before I turn 30.” That list, and that bullet point, stuck with me for years. Since I’m now 29, with the big Three-Oh coming in February 2013, this fall became my last shot to cross that goal off my list.
And, of course, with kids on the way, I had more than one person say to me, “Do it now. Before kids.” Not that it’s impossible to train for a marathon when you have children–hundreds of thousands of parents run marathons every year–but I’m betting it’s a lot easier to train the many hours and miles for a marathon as empty-nest newlyweds than as parents of infants.
I spent the last five months training to run a marathon, clocking more than 400 miles during the training process. You can imagine my heartbreak, then, when I got a terrible case of pink eye, and a nasty chest cold, the Friday before the race. I also had a foot injury that had just healed after three weeks of rest, with not a single mile run during those last weeks leading up to the race.
Friends and family asked, “Do you think you’ll still be able to do it?”
Truthfully, I didn’t know. But I put on my best brave face and said I’d be going for it no matter what.
The Friday night before the race I flew to Philadelphia directly from a work trip in Oklahoma City. I spent some time with Matt, and our dog, Butter. My best friend, Josh K, and his boyfriend, Trent, bussed down from New York to root me on at the finish line.
Sunday morning, November 18, was the moment of truth. Josh K knocked on the bathroom door as I pulled on my marathon outfit, long before sunrise. I opened the door. We both laughed.
“Oh no,” he said. “You look terrible.”
“I know!” I said. “Watch what happens when I smile.”
When I did, my red, swollen, itchy right eye closed almost completely. Then my laughter turned to a nasty hacking couch, and I spit up something unmentionable.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt sexier. (Ha.)
But I was determined.
Four hours, twenty-eight minutes, and five seconds later, I crossed the finish line.
Overjoyed doesn’t even cover how I felt. I was ecstatic. I called Matt and, as we talked, I was so overwhelmed and happy–and just plain relieved–that I cried.
It was an amazing day.
Four days later, it’s Thanksgiving. The cough is fading. Thanks to prescription eye drops, the pink eye is mostly gone, but because of the risk of contagion, we had to cancel our plans with my family in D.C. and Maryland. That was a huge bummer. But it did also open the opportunity for something we’ve never done as a couple: Thanksgiving for two.
This year probably marks the last time Matt and I will ever have Thanksgiving just for two. Next Thanksgiving we’ll have five-month-old babies. And, barring any seriously contagious ailments, we’ll be surrounded by family, which will be great. That will probably be the pattern from here on out.
But this year? We bought a small chicken, rubbed it in herbs and spices, and popped it in the oven. Matt made green beans and croissants, I made Stove Top stuffing (my favorite part of any Thanksgiving meal), and even baked my very first cake. Ever.
It turned out to be kind of sweet, this holiday for two. It gave us time to contemplate the future, and time to think about how much we actually, truly, have to be grateful for.
This Thanksgiving we want to send very special thanks to our surrogate, in India with her family, and to our babies, whom we look forward to meeting (so much!) in six and a half months.
And, of course, a very happy Thanksgiving to you. I hope it’s a great one, filled with great food, family and/or loved ones, and much to be thankful for.
Josh (and Matt!)