Monday, November 28, 2011

Mile 24

Mile 24 is a very bad place.

I spent the day on the sidelines of the Space Coast Marathon yesterday, taking photos and playing the part of cheerleader.  I have to admit being more than a little envious.  Unfortunately I can’t run every race and as friends were lining up at the start I was disappointed that I was not joining in.

I usually position myself close to the finish to get a contact high from the excitement as people get that first look at the finish line.  This time I spent a lot of time at mile 24 and it brought back a flood of memories.

The memory of the last few miles of my first marathon last year has not receded a bit with time.  Overcoming the emotional low I experienced while fruitlessly attempting to run past the wall was such a singular moment of my life that the memory perseveres.

As I watched the faces of hundreds of runners move past me I could empathize.  Sure, there were those lucky few that seemed to relish every moment of the race, but the vast majority were in obvious discomfort.  Muscle cramps, sore knees or shins or hips, hunched over with aching backs.




They just wanted it to be over.

At mile 24 the finish seems at the same time close and impossibly far away.  Time slows and minutes seem like an eternity.

Early on in the race the miles rolled off effortlessly but eventually you start to measure your progress in tenths of a mile, then hundredths, then landmarks (please let me just make it to that next tree or block or driveway).

Then you start to count your steps.

Every attempt to reassure yourself that the race is almost over fails miserably.  Two miles seems like an impossible distance to cover when every effort to will your legs to move is met with a refusal.  The sense of frustration and defeat is overpowering.

I ran with some, talked with some, tried to offer encouragement.  My words seemed to be met with equal measures of gratitude and irritation, but I understood.  More than that, I was inspired by their strength of will.  Despite the agony and suffering, no one quit.  Universally, they all kept moving forward.

So now I have another memory of mile 24 that will persevere.


  1. You hit this one right on the head! That is one tough place...

  2. But you still beat Oprah! I would have to agree with all your observations........that's why I run/walk.

  3. Beautifully stated. Your words brought back the very feeling. And yes I digress (deteriorate, degenerate?) to the point of counting steps too.