There are runs where you want to quit, but you don’t.

Runs where you want to quit, and you do.

Runs where you push yourself so hard, you puke your guts out.

Runs where you puke your guts out because you’re pregnant and don’t know it.

Runs where you go faster than you ever have before, and it feels amazing.

Runs where you’re so sore from a previous workout that you can barely move.

Runs where you’re injured, but you don’t want to admit it.

Runs when you’re coming back from an injury and you’re scared to hurt it.

Runs when you have to pee with every single step

Runs when you start off angry and end happy.

Runs when you watch every single second tick by.

Runs when you finish before you realize you even started.

Runs where you make new friends.

Runs where you figure crap out.

Runs where great ideas come to you.

Runs where not so great ideas come to you.

Runs when you realize what you really want to do with your life.

Runs where you realize you’re not doing what you want to do.

Runs where you are just plain sad the entire time.

Runs where you are so hot, you fantasize about diving into an icy cold pool the entire time.

Runs where you know you’re getting brutally chafed, but you keep on keepin’ on.

Runs where you are with thousands of other people.

Runs by yourself

Runs when you cry the entire time.

Runs where you cry when you’re finished
Runs that earn you a medal.

Runs where the wind is blowing so hard, you feel as if you’re going backwards.

Runs that are so effortless, you’re not even sure they happened.

Runs where you’ve gone 20 miles, and don’t possibly think you could 6.2 more. And then you do.

Runs where you’re exploring a whole new place, in a way you never would if you weren’t a runner.

Runs where you have a cold, and your nose leaks the whole time.

Runs when the rain is pouring.

Runs when the sun is shining.

Runs when your Garmin dies halfway through, and you have to do it blindly.

Runs where you get so confused as to how far you’ve gone (math is hard, especially when you’re 
tired) that you say screw it and just give up counting.

Runs that are “stolen” when you should be doing something else.

Runs where you make your to-do list.

Runs where you have to stop and take a phone call.

Runs where you have to stop and go back to work.

Runs where you should stop and go back to work, but you don’t.

And if you are lucky....You will get a run that makes you fall in love with running all over again.

On Saturday, at seven in the morning, over 30,000 people gathered in the center of downtown Nashville,  ready to take part in possibly one of the most fatiguing, rigorous, and demanding days of their lives- both physically and mentally.

Before the day of my race arrived I had many expectations. The physical part never made me think twice, I was, and still am, confident that after your legs can tolerate two hours of running, the remaining distance you wish to achieve is your minds doing.

Friday night I was eager for the sun to rise on Saturday morning, and as the sun rose on Saturday, I was just as eager for it to set.

 I wanted to start this day, walk to the start line with 2 of the most influential people in my life….and do what we do…..Run. I wanted them to have the best experience possible in running their first marathon. I stood there and wondered about my best friends. 20 corrals behind us…..getting ready to run their first half marathon. Knowing the nerves and the anticipation that was setting in on all these runners. How do I know? Because I feel it every single time I step to the start line.

I often wonder what I will feel like afterwards, and perhaps during the race, and I often think pride. A selfish pride, one that was only about me- how hard I worked, how I did not give up, how I did something not many other people can say they accomplished.

However, this run for me was not about what I could say “I” did. I ran this race with my Mom and Uncle. Many people will not know what I mean when I say these 2 saved me from me. When I was at my lowest point in life…..They believed in me. Never once gave up on me. This truly wasn’t about the run….it was about the journey for me.

I could not ignore the energy in the air. Like electricity, it was plausible, and the undeniable thrill, and anticipation, and support ran like currents from runner to runner- I didn’t dread this run, because as a team, we were all ready.

The race began, and I was pleasantly surprised to internally acknowledge how happy I felt. Of course, this was only the beginning, and I was sure this feeling would be fleeting. Even still, I enjoyed myself.

I enjoyed myself by reading the often clever shirts of everyone ahead of me.

I enjoyed myself by looking at the historical, beautiful, world famous monuments we passed, as we steadily ran through the entirety of Nashville.

I enjoyed myself by the endless support- the strangers, and children on the side of the roads, giving the runners high fives as we passed. The volunteers lining the street, handing us water, each and every one of them encouraging us along the way.

I enjoyed myself by realizing the amazing thing I was doing, but not the way in which I envisioned myself feeling- that selfish pride.

It really was no longer about me or the run. It was about the 30,000 people- who were from different countries, and backgrounds. Who were men and women, who had children, or were single. Who were different skin colors, and sexual orientations, and who held different political beliefs. Who were young, and old.

All of these people, you knew nothing about them.  Yet, in this moment, we were all the same. All you knew is the amount of hard work they put into this day, you knew it, because you had done the very same. You knew that today, they would give it all they had- they would ignore that voice in their head telling them they were tired, or they needed a break, or that they could not do it- you knew they would ignore that voice, and overcome that voice- but only if we did it together.

It was not about me or the run. It was about the community- a community of people you knew nothing about, but who supported each other nonetheless. Who had a common goal, an extremely challenging one, but who would exert every ounce of discipline, and strength, and courage in order to achieve it.

It was not about me or the run.

It was watching, with a smile on my face, as a man who looked almost 80 years old, jogged around the rest of us. Hearing him cheer us on and chant “Come on Mother & Daughter…and uncle. Ya’ll can do it!!”  It was watching, with a smile on my face, as runners cheered him on, all along the way.

It was not about me or the run. It was about watching the young man run the entire race with an American flag waving in the wind behind him.

It was not about me or the run. It was about the woman I saw in a wheelchair….smiling. Wheeling past runners on 2 feet and cheering them on. Never once letting the fact that she was in a wheelchair stop her from accomplishing a goal she set for herself.

It was not about me or the run. It was about the women, and the men, it was about all of us coming together to watch as we made ourselves proud. But, I will say again, it was not a selfish pride.

This day- it was not something that could be passed down to you. It did not matter who your parents were, and it was not a gift that could be bought in the store. It was a result of one thing, and one thing only, an unwavering work ethic. A ruthless and relentless mind- that would push you when your body said stop.

 This day, it was not about me. It was not about the run.

It was about realizing we must not all be competitive with one another, but ourselves. It is not about beating the person next to you, or being better than them. It is about encouraging them to be their best, and pushing them, and pushing yourself, in an effort to better one another. Not bringing another down to lift yourself up, but by using each other as support beams, allowing the both of you to rise like smoke, together.

It was not about me. It was not about the run. It was about stepping up to the start line and praying to our almighty God to give protection to the 30,000 runners that were about to push their body to the limit. It was about stopping at mile 11 and praying once again for a layer of healing over my uncle’s knee who in excruciating pain. It was about having that same faith at mile 19 when we stopped and held hands in prayer for a third time. For him to ease the stomach cramps of my Mom. For him to just lay his hand upon them both. To give them the strength to push on. To guide them.

We asked in prayer…..and our faithful God answered.

It was about watching Gere stop and bend over in pain….I saw it written all over his face as he grabbed his knee…then recomposed himself and forced himself to put one foot in front of the other….and keep moving.

It was about hearing Gina say out loud on mile 24…..”Dear God, please just give me the strength.” And 15 minutes later I heard her whisper “I can do this”….when she didn’t think I could hear her.

It was about receiving updating text messages saying that my friend crossed the finish line of her first half marathon UNDER her time limit she set for herself.

It was about receiving that second text message from another friend stating she crossed the finish line under her time as well. Both of these girls always underestimating what they are capable of...and this was a defining moment in their life. It was a hurdle that they will always remember.

It was about watching my cousin walk up to me after crossing the finish line of that brutal 26.2 miles and giving me a hug....a hug that said more than he could have said to me. It simply said “Thank you for believing in me.”

On that day, while my resolve was trailed during the final hour, and my legs begged me to stop, and I wondered why the last two miles felt like eight, it was among one of the best of my life. It was something that was my own, but somehow, managed to be about way more than myself. It was an unselfish pride. One without jealously, or hate, or competition- ironic enough given the fact it was a race. It was the vital thing, so often overlooked, the strength of support and family….and community.

Today, I am sore. But my heart is proud.