Let me begin with the half marathon.  The race Husband Jared and I just completed this past weekend in Music City.  A grueling 13.1 miles of hills.  LONG hills.  Never-ending inclines that both made my body scream and cry.  There may have been gnashing of the teeth.  OK there was.
We finished.  Crossed the finish line.  Husband Jared with a PR and me, well I thought I had a PR but once the official times were posted I learned otherwise.  Because of the ruminator that I am I thought long and hard about what I could have done differently.  It all boiled down to the two minutes of walking I rewarded myself with in between miles eleven and twelve.  My hips were begging for me to stop and it felt as though there were bricks attached to my feet.  Thank you torrential rain for that gem.  Anyhow, let's just say I had kept running right on through I would be writing this while having a PR on a very tough course.  I know.  And trust me I've said the same things to myself one hundred times.  I finished.  I was able to run.  Thank the Lord.  And I did.  I choked up at every "Run for Boston" sign I saw.  Coming into the stretch during mile ten there were signs hanging from a bridge saying, " Finish strong, finish together, finish for Boston".  Let me apologize to those that were running beside me as we ran under those signs, I was the blubbering idiot on the course.  Couldn't help myself.  It speaks volumes of the running community.  The camaraderie I've experienced at every starting line.  Along the way.  The encouragement.  Smiles.  Cheers.  Hand clapping as people have passed me.  I am a sap and when I see the best in humanity I can't help but feel hopeful.  This.  This is why I love running.  And this is why I will beat up my body again and again so I can say I am a runner.  So that when there is a man walking the race carrying an American flag and veteran's t-shirt I can run up next to him, pat him on the back and say thank you.  Community is experienced, whether you're a newbie or you have a pile of medals hanging in your repertoire.  Running might just be good for my soul. 
You know what else is good for my soul?  Time spent with these two that were up for the challenge of running the race with us. 
Waiting for the shuttle to take us to the starting line
This was Jeff and Natalie's first race.  They trained, they ran, they trained some more and then they may have questioned mine and Husband Jared's sanity.  We weren't sure that they would like us too much after the run but they did.  The sense of accomplishment when that medal is handed to you is euphoric.  There are no words that do it justice.  To say I was proud of them is a drastic understatement.  To say I was grateful to them for sharing this experience with us doesn't do my swollen heart justice.  Love these two peeps. 
When I crossed the line and found Husband Jared's face waiting for me we were soaked to the core, squishy socks and all.  His calming presence was a relief and we refueled, grabbed our solar covers, thank the racing staff for those, my blue lips were chattering, and then we found our free beer.  Yes, I said it people.  There was a free beer for each and every runner that crossed the finish line, so long as you were of age.  And then we waited for our counterparts.  When we saw their faces there were squeals and high fives and hugs.  Thrilling.  Then we danced in the rain to the band and found our way to our vehicle so we could eat and dry off and eat some more. 
Medals and the beer tent

They did it!  Woo hoo!
We spent the afternoon lounging around, sleeping, sharing stories from the race and celebrating.  Evening came and it was time for more celebration.  It was Natalie's birthday after all.  We had an incredible grown up dinner and laughed way more than four people should.  There was much to rejoice in.  I think it's safe to say that I'm ready for the next one. 
Red Pony, downtown Franklin - birthday dinner

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