Never cried in a race. Not once. Never even felt like it. I understood why others did but I just didn’t. I was just happy I suppose but not overwhelmed. I’ve never met a finish line I didn’t want to kiss and that’s the overriding emotion when I get there.
If anything I would be closer to tears at the start. For me, the start line is where all the achievement is.
For a marathon, that’s sixteen weeks of training. It’s sixteen weeks of getting up at stupid o’clock to run. It’s sixteen weeks of training when it’s great, when it’s bad, when you are tired, when you don’t feel like it and when it is inconvenient. It is sixteen weeks of running horrifyingly hard intervals on legs dead from front squats. It is sixteen weeks of training your body to be exhausted and to keep going. It is sixteen weeks of pushing your body further than even you think it’s capable of – even when you have a pretty high opinion of your body. It’s sixteen weeks of mental preparation. And it is sixteen weeks of keeping your head where it needs to be.
That is the achievement. That is the entire achievement. The actual race is an acknowledgement of that achievement.
The Sydney Marathon was more than that though. And I knew that going into it. Kate and I had raced the Sydney Half Marathon last year and held hands over the finish line and it meant a whole lot then too. More than a race. We’d somehow managed to pull one another out of that depressive black pit that was so horrifying I wouldn’t even say the words. We’d somehow managed to drag one another out of that and find a home at Operation Move. We’d somehow managed to stop smoking and take brave steps into being who we were meant to be. Not who people told us we were or who we thought we had to be. And on the strength of all of that we had built something.
We had built something that actually had an idea bout what it was. Something different to all of those five thousand ads on Facebook about getting a bikini body. Something that believes in people as they are. Something that believes in women as athletes. Something that focuses on the beauty of what the human body can do and the amazing women who do it. Something that says we are a team. Something that says I will hold your hand or I will tell you how awesome you are when you forget or I will believe in you until you believe in yourself.
And it was that which overwhelmed me at the 30km mark of the Sydney Marathon. And I cried when we crossed the line. The achievement that we were celebrating was far more than just a race.