So most people ask "How was it?" It was an awesome challenge. It was an awesome experience. It was a first of many new experiences for me this year.
It was not only a physical challenge but a psychological and spiritual challenge. For those of you who have never run 26.2 miles (like myself) around mile 20 the mind and the body decide that they are separate entities not working in unison. The mind tells you that you've had enough, the heart rate jumps to 187 bpm, the body becomes cold and chills with goosebumps while the legs continue to labor forward. Each mile was significant so walking was not an option for the remaining 6.2 miles. I finished the race set before me in 4 hours and 19 minutes, with joy, pain, tears and ice packs.
When the marathon began at 5:50 am under a full moon and 57 degrees I stood alone anxious and praying amongst 20,000 runners. At that point the prayer was simple, God please be with me (and the all the runners) throughout this marathon and help me complete it for your glory, without stopping and without injury. I made a quick decision to join a 4:15 goal "pace group" led by an energetic Clif gal from Pennsylvania named Marie (the angel of inspiration.) I ran with this group through the Magic Kingdom, Grand Floridian and the Animal Kingdom until mile 20 where I was, yes, dropped. Although I managed to complete Disney Studios, the Boardwalk and Epcot to finish just 4 minutes behind them with Marie waiting to greet me! I met some peers along the way; Luke from Miami, Jose from Bal Harbour, Erin from Lakeland, Marsha from Fayetteville and Kathleen from Ohio, all of these angels played a roll in my accomplishment.
The ironic story I want to share is about Kathleen from Ohio who sauntered in around mile 12.5, we discussed my current diagnosis and the upcoming challenges. It turns out that she works for a cancer unit in Ohio where Dr. Vipul Patel was prior transferring to the Global Robotics Institute and that she knows him well. Kathleen stated, "you couldn't be in the hands of any better surgeon, he is the best there is, I am going to call him and tell him we met on mile 13." We spoke some more until she jogged off to support other marathoners along the route. I am convinced that Kathleen was the angel of assurance.
It was truly a great venue and an incredible adventure.