My shoes have carried me many places; through wooded trails, down long asphalt roads, along the lakefront and shoreline. They are no longer shiny and new like the day I bought them from the fancy running store at Greenlake. There are signs of wear and tear and a bit of dirt along their edges. They’ve carried me more miles that I’d ever image possible. The most important place they’ve ever taken me is Washington D.C. and the Marine Corp Marathon.
Bang! The gun goes off and my shoes thrust me forward through the crowd of runners as they surge forward. Up, up, up the hill we go and down the George Washington Parkway, sprinting past Frankenstein’s Bride and a Wedding Runner. The sun is pounding down upon me but my shoes lift my feet as we go past Lincoln’s Memorial and up to the Capital.
My forehead is dripping with sweat and I’m not sure I can go on but my shoes know we still have 13.1 more miles to go. My running partner tells me I can go on. My shoes hear the push of her voice as they cushion my feet and spring up in the air. We pass my friends waiting to cheer us on and my friend’s 5-year-old son runs besides me for a few blocks. His screams of joy encourage me to keep moving forward.
I propel myself into East Potomac Park and I begin to chant, “I must make it to the bridge in less than 5 hours!” I round the corner and I can see the bridge. My shoes let me know that they are tired too but that it is almost over. I swear I can smell the chocolate awaiting me at the finish. I trudge across the bridge shuffling my shoes a bit. I slow my pace. I can only hear the pounding of my shoes against the concrete; the crowd’s cheers have faded into the distance.
After more than 6 hours, I am nearing 26 miles when I spot my friend racing along the sidelines. Her energy helps me spring forward toward the finish. My running partner points out the finish line and asks me if I’m ready for it. We chug up the hill to the finish line. I thought I would cry when I accomplished 26.2 miles but for now, I’m too tired for much emotion. We pose in front of Iwo Jima and hobble to the food tent. Our arms are soon loaded up with food and water but we’re too afraid to sit down and so begin our short journey to the Metro and home. Once home we collapse into a heap and my friend hands both of us a bottle each of Stella. It’s the perfect way to end a perfect day.