The race itself was an amazing experience. The Twin Cities sure know how to put on a good race, and there were spectators – literally tens of thousands of them – through every mile of the course. My own cheering team, who surprised me by making amazing signs with the Barefoot For Kids/Team Ness logo on did an outstanding job of driving around the course to cheer me on every few miles. It’s not easy to sum up nearly four hours of running, but here’s the summary in brief:
Standing around barefoot in fifty degree weather at 7.30am turns out to be a little chilly. I ended up wearing my arm warmers on my feet while waiting for the gun to go off because my toes were getting so cold. Eventually we started, and I relocated my arm warmers to my arms.
The first nine miles flew by and I barely noticed the mile markers. Runners were shouting and singing and I was fully immersed in the joy of the marathon start. I ended up running the first eleven miles with two women who were friends of a friend, and I was grateful for the company. At mile eleven we parted with one of the women and I ran the rest of the race with the other.
Things went very smoothly and easily until about mile 17 where I found myself wondering if they had forgotten to place a mile marker. Miles 18, and 19 were fine, but certainly not the most fun I’ve ever had. Then we crossed over the bridge to St. Paul and I discovered that the city of St. Paul could stand to learn a thing or two from Minneapolis about how to pave a road. The roads were just rough enough to make it uncomfortable for my feet, and my legs were starting to get tired, so miles 21-24 were not the happiest of my life, but still entirely bearable. I’ll confess I shed a few tears while thinking about all the kids who would get the surgeries and how that would affect their lives and their families’ lives. It was awesome to realize that my running that day had meaning beyond the actual running.
By mile 24 I had bumped into my amazing cheering squad again and was completely rejuvenated by their love and enthusiasm. Miles 24-26 went very quickly and I felt like I got a bit of spring in my step again. Then the final stretch to 26.2 was a dramatic entry to the finish line down a chute lined with hundreds of excited spectators. I slowed down for the final part of the race, savoring the moment and taking it all in.
My legs were so happy to stop running and I was a bit emotional about being able to call myself a marathoner and to have finished 13 minutes under my goal time. I met up with my crew, did some stretching, and we went off for a much-needed lunch while I tried to stay awake.
So there it is. My feet were absolutely fine and, thanks to Crossfit training, I was barely sore at all the next day (although I did hobble around on the night of the race – so badly that someone on the street asked me if I had run the marathon!). One of my first thoughts after I finished was to wonder how I might take an hour off my time next year, so I guess it won’t be my last marathon!
I am so blown away by people’s continued generosity, and the total now equals 30 surgeries. The University are doing two more features on me in the next few months – one on the website and another in an alumni magazine, so they suggested I extend the deadline for donations, which I will do in the hopes that I can still get to my goal of $10,000 or 40 surgeries.
Thanks to everyone who has donated – especially those who have donated anonymously under cryptic aliases whom I am unable to thank personally!
In the meantime I will continue to run through the winter, and to keep my shoes off as long as it is comfortable. I’ll continue to update this blog until I close the donation website and will also do a follow-up entry in the Spring once the money has actually been used for surgeries.