Monday, April 15, 2013

What A Marathon Finish Line Means To Me


The Marathon Finish Line Is...

...sacred space to me.

...where I looked up at the sky in tears, thanking the greatest father who I had lost a year earlier, as I crossed my first one in New York City.

...where I proposed at New Jersey to Lisa, who said yes.

...where I danced over 11 timing mats.

...where you discover who you are inside.

...where all my boys were waiting for me at St. Louis.

...where I set a PR in 2008.

...where the purest emotional release in life happens.

...where I last went in February, as a giant seahorse sand sculpture awaited me on the sunny Fort Lauderdale beach.

...where I will be again this fall.

...worth reaching no matter what it takes.

...where you muster a smile somehow.

...where someone much faster breaks the tape.

...where a volunteer waits to hang a medal around your neck.

...what I think about for most of 26.2 miles or more, and really all year long.

...where the Central Park bench plaque across from Tavern on the Green reads: "Races are run with the legs, but marathons are run with the heart."

...where families and friends wave flags as supporters who mean everything to you, many of them complete strangers but kindred spirits that day.

...a spiritual place.

...the sum of all those calculations you did for miles and miles, anticipating what it would take to somehow get there at a desired time.

...proof that you are someone who finishes what s/he starts and can do anything.

...your chance to finally walk, stop, exhale and take pride. You ran your heart out and have nothing left.

...where I ran on cobblestones of Paris in the shadow of Arc de Triomphe, the most perfect name for a structure that could sit beside a finish line, and where I tried to french kiss my wife.

...that digital readout up ahead with the loud music, getting closer and closer and finally all yours.

...home.

...something you never imagined you could do.

...where I finished an Oklahoma City Half six years ago right beside the memorial to a bombing incident, and where I looked at those who had just run the full and imagined what it would be to go that far.

...where joy abounds and life is celebrated.

...not where life ends and nightmares begin.

...a metaphor for our real lives, where one day I will cross, arms raised, having made the best effort I can make over a lifetime to be a good person, as heaven awaits.

...where a live video cam can be on and I will sometimes sit at my computer for an hour just watching the triumph of runner after runner crossing in her or his own style, each with their own story of accomplishment and conquest.

That is why I created http://finisher.tumblr.com along the way -- because the finish line is a place you always want to be, an honorable destination, a sacred space.

Today I am crushed and saddened beyond words at what happened at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I can't even read any more. My hearts go out to the runners and spectators and all affected by the tragedy there, and I am thankful to all of my fellow marathoners there who are OK. These were people who just wanted to enjoy the best time of life and smile as they crossed the mat and families and friends sharing that priceless moment, and that gift of life that no one has a right to take away.



10 comments:

David Moon said...

That was a beautiful post Mark. You captured the essence of the marathon finish line wonderfully; something that without actually crossing yourself you can never understand the feeling of having every possible emotion bubble up at once in your own personal act of accomplishment.

I was so sad to see the news this morning (9.5 hour time difference in India). My deepest sympathies go out to all of the racers, supporters, family members, and friends affected by the tragedy at this year's Boston Marathon.

Thank you for posting Mark.

Mark said...

Thanks for the comment, David, well said. Truly unbelievable that this happened, that this could happen. If a finish line is sacred, then what of human life itself? What's after sacred?

Ann said...

The finish line means I AM, I CAN, I WILL and I DO. The finish line is always the proof. Thanks so much for posting this.

Celeste said...

You've summed it up. This is such a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing, Mark.

Laura Anderson said...

Wonderful post, we must continue seeking the finish line. We must fight to make it sacred again. Runners must keep running and keeping searching for the finish line wherever it may be.

Mark said...

Thank you Ann, and I love your slogan. You're right that the finish line is always the proof, and that's one reason I leave that up as my @Marathoner profile pic, to keep the big word "PROOF" over me!

Mark said...

Thanks Celeste and I'm looking forward to following your back-to-back marathons! Go get 'em - 2 big finishes in one weekend!

Mark said...

Laura, I really appreciate the comment and agree with you. It will always be sacred to me. We will need to safeguard them for spectators more going forward, including NYC this fall.

Hollie said...

I found your blog through Laura and she tells nothing but the truth. This is a great and wonderful post. Though I have never run a marathon I can relate to finishing and finding the finish line. We will only come back stronger from this.

Mark said...

Hollie, thank you for that. I enjoy your tweets! Mark