The boys were in awe of the hotel we were staying at. We were at the MGM Grand. This was no "Comfort Inn" they were used to staying in. They just walked around looking in every corner and touching every gadget. It was hard for me to get excited. There was something broken in me. A crucial element that supplied life filled with joy and it seemed to be malfunctioning.
I wasn't tired but made a valiant effort at trying to get some shut eye. I was awakened to Austin getting up and going to the bathroom about midnight. "Oh, no Austin." I cried to my 13 year old with his head in the toilet vomiting his Pizza Papalis dinner. Like a little man he has always made it to the bathroom or a bucket. Everything continued to spew from his mouth and there was nothing I could do but get him a cold rag and hunker down for a long night. It didn't matter sleep had seemed like a novelty.
I ran my fingers through Austins hair till he fell back asleep. I was wide awake with my thoughts in hyper-speed unable to disconnect my mind or close my eyes.
I was up till 2am.
We overslept!!!It was 5:45am and the race started at 7am.
It is good I am not a fortune teller or I would have crawled back in bed.
I felt terrible for Austin but there was NO way he could stay in the hotel for 4 hours alone.
I forgot a sports bra! I could have gotten away with band aids if I had them!
I forgot my Juice Plus chomps.
I forgot my Motrin.
And the topper...I flushed my Ipod down the toilet!! It was clipped to my capris and when I went to go to the bathroom it unclipped. I felt a tug on my waist and saw the water suck it down the black hole.
No Music for over 3 hours of running. This really stinks. I really needed that music today. I was able to fish it out because the eaarbuds were tucked in my elastic wasit band but it was to late. I had a "Ariel play list" I was going to listen to and now I had nothing but my own septic thoughts.
Here we were "Team Harless" in our circle praying for protection and safety. This was a new running prayer. I really was praying for it to. I was uneasy about this run. I was concerned my body would fall apart when I needed it most. I have never been in the Med Tent and really had no desire to now or ever. I had been having a hard time breathing the last 10 days as well as eating, sleeping or any other affiliation I was going to need to run.
I decide to join a pace group. I liked the idea of someone pushing me and encouraging me and all I had to do was follow. I liked the idea of just moving my legs and someone directing me and keeping me on pace. I did a moderate pacer, a 3:40 pace group. "Clark" was our pacer. He was very slender and lean. He had the body of a junior high kid but I think he was in his 40's or 50's by the gray haired patches and the laugh lines around his eyes. He was soft spoken with a very soothing voice. "I think this is a good idea." I decided.
Our corral began to move towards the starting line. My cheeks were wet with tears and I was somber. I couldn't muster a smile no matter how hard I tried. I whimpered for the first 3 miles letting the tears gently roll down my cheeks. I couldn't fight them. So I just accepted it. Oh how I missed my Ariel. 9 days ago felt like yesterday I got that awful earth shattering, life altering news.
Then people started asking about my "Wings". So I told them about my sweet Ariel. I felt a spring in my step as I spoke of her. I decided with the words of one of the runners to embrace the 26.2 miles of pain. To let that pain challenge and fuel me to the finish line. That the pain of running would disguise the pain of heartache.
I liked that idea.
At about mile 16 I was feeling pretty good and running into a good rhythm when I got a new spirit. As I ran I listened. I listened to the other runners in our pace group. I listened to their stories, their goals, and their concerns. It was in my listening that I found myself giving a shout out to the runners. I started owning their goals as my goals. I found myself wanting so bad for "Patrick" to PR and "Ericka" to qualify for Boston. Even in my distress I could feel the need to encourage others. The more I encouraged another runner the more I was able to discover another exit door for my sadness.
"Clark" was a Running Rock-star. This was his 49th marathon. His pacing consisted of encouragement, stories, listening and even sharing his pacer pole with the runners for fun. He offered advice about the course and tips on when to drink, take goo's and help cramps.
As we approached mile 19 "Clark" said that he liked to dedicate a mile to someone. He suggested we dedicate a mile to Ariel. Mile 21 we decided because that was her age.
This was a great idea for me to have her to run towards.
To remind me of why I was running.
I could see "Mile 21" up on my right. I focused my eyes directly on it like it was Ariel. I felt strong. I felt capable. I reached my hand out like it was Ariel and touched the sign. Oh how I wish it was her.
5 miles to go. Some of our group was falling back. "Patrick" was doubting himself. I turned my head to him and yelled " Patrick, LOOK at my WINGS. Do NOT take your eyes off my Wings. Do NOT let them get out of your sight." And he responded quietly "Ok".
The group was still together when I felt myself pulling away from them at mile 23.
I thought of Ariel pulling three jobs. I thought of Ariel and I claimed her verse "I CAN do all things through CHRIST who strengthens ME."
I thought of Ariel as she was against the odds and fighting all of Hell to get through the next day or to do the right thing. I thought of Ariel and I dug my feet in deeper. I pulled my feeble shoulders back in confidence and decided to run this strong.
I came unto a guy that was running with us back at the beginning of the race. He was a comic. I enjoyed his company. He was struggling now. In between deep breaths we shared our stories briefly, enough to silently decide we would help one another for as long as we could. This was "Sam's" 60th marathon. I felt like a infant in comparison. He stayed with me till about mile 25 where he moved in on this guy about 30 feet ahead of us. I let him go but watched. As I watch him pull this extra gusto I heard a "OH NO" from the other guy and "Sam" started laughing. He was in hysterics laughing so hard.
It was a ARIEL moment.
I had no idea what was going on but I had a grin across my face at those 2 clowns. "Sam" was loosing his place he was cracking up so loud. Finally as I giggled I shouted out "Seriously?! WHO laughs like this at mile 25?!!!" Now all 3 of us were tickled.
Then "Sam" replies to the guy, "This is Anita, and she helped me catch back up to you!" They were chuckling because they had a friendly competition going on that I was unaware of from the beginning of the race..
I needed their contagious laughter.
".6 of a mile to go" I heard someone say.
Joy, Peace and Love. That is what I felt at that moment. I knew this is what Ariel would want me to feel. She would not want me to run this race solemn and sad.
I would finish STRONG and Powerful filled with Victory and Love. I had sweat out the demons and they were not welcomed back. Ariel was the WIND Beneath my WINGS. She was my focus and my drive. Failure was NOT an OPTION. Quitting was no part of this EQUATION.
Picking up my pace I began passing people. I heard "Sam" yell at me now from behind "Run it In Anita."
And God Supplied me. God Strengthened me. He Protected me.
I heard my family on my left. This was the 4th time I had seen them on the course. "Team Harless" Rocks. "GO Mama, GO" I heard my children screaming.
"Yes, baby I will" I thought and kicked it up even faster. I heard the crowd begin to scream at me. People saw me passing others and their excitement built. It flooded me ears and I continued to pick up speed across the finisher mats.
As the runners came across the mats, people came up to me thanking me. These people thought I was a pacer and were saying "Thank You's" for motivating them. Funny I had no idea.
"Clark" came up to me with encouragement. "Ericka" qualified for Boston and "Patrick" PR-ed and said "Thank you for your WINGS!"
I found myself smiling. I WAS SMILING?! "Look Ariel, I am SMILING" I thought to myself.
Ariel was the Wind Beneath my Wings. I looked out and saw her. I ran towards her. I always believed in Ariel. Today I had to believe in myself and God to get me through just like she had to so many times.
I took my medal to Ariel's today and left it grave side. I love You Ariel.
DETROIT FREE PRESS MARATHONS RESULTS: BIB #2876
PACE: 8: 19
DIVISION PLACE: 15/256
LINK: Results Anita~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Special thanks to my incredible family. "Austin" was such a trooper. He really didn't want to miss my race and he didn't get sick again by the grace of God. I have a great bunch of boys.
Thank you to "Deb". She left me a text that was uplifting and comforting. It really was sweet.
Thank You to all those who have encouraged me the pass few days. It really is very restorative. I can feel God using people to patch me back together. Some of the stitches hurt but I know he will heal.
How Have YOU thought of Ariel This WEEK??? What Ariel MOMENT have YOU HAD???*********************
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This is my way of healing and some things are very transparent. I am not perfect. I am far far from good and I am writing my heart.
"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9.
Some things I am ashamed I feel. But it is how I heal (by writing). Please understand and give me some grace.