Behind the Medal
“Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers, and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.” – Therese of Lisieux
There’s so much more behind the engraved medal at the end of the marathon. Traveling as light as possible, I don’t carry my phone so I can’t capture the beautiful scenes on the journey. But each mile has pictures engraved in my memory.
At the start line, thousands of runners gather hopeful and excited, sprinkled with a bit of fear of what’s to come, but starting just the same. My first marathon with my brother John and both of our third marathons.
From start to finish, people gather along the streets clapping, jumping, cheering for strangers – scattering flowers. A mom stops to kiss her husband and kids who are beaming with pride in her feat. Dads and daughters running along side each other.
Mile 17, questions on my sanity sneak into my thoughts then shift quickly back to what I said to myself at mile one – how do you run a marathon? – one mile at a time, break it up. Mile 21, I can make it, take it all in, walk when you have to, keep going. Passing runners at the medical stations exhausted and injured reminds me that there are no guarantees. Anything can happen on marathon day. Everyone does not finish.
I don’t visualize the finish line as much as mile 24.5 where family and friends are gathered, standing for over five hours in 40 degrees cheering thousands of runners on and waiting patiently for me to finally show up. Scattering flowers.
Mile 23.5, my niece Emily runs up to greet me with a hug and smile and starts running me home. She ran her Dad to the finish and came back out for me. My left calf knots up and she stops to rub it out. Scattering flowers.
We approach 24.5 to my cheering crowd – hugs and hoots all around as if I’ve won the marathon. Emily continues on with me and Linda, who has an injured knee, joins us to run me to the finish. Just down the road, Jeanne is waving her arms, doing jumping jacks and joins my finishing pack. Scattering flowers.
The finish line. The medal. The journey that started four months ago and hundreds of miles is complete with the final 26.2. And each mile of the journey, I’ve never been alone. I’ve been gathering flowers.