Five months of fundraising, $3,227 raised, 241.75 miles of training since August, 2,430 miles flown to Vegas, and 13.1 miles raced at an average pace of 9:10, for a Personal Record (PR) of exactly 2:00. Endless support from friends and family. A huge feeling of accomplishment. And one tattoo. That about sums up my experience!
There were about 50 of us from Maryland representing TeamChallenge. There were 1,000 of us nationally and nearly 30,000 people ran the race. TeamChallenge raised $3.7 Million dollars that will be used to fund research and support for Crohns & Colitis. We done good.
Some highlights of the trip… First, having Gracie and Billy with me was fantastic (although I recommend that if anyone is considering taking a 4 year old to Vegas, think long and hard – it is a completely different ‘Vegas’ with a toddler in tow!) I was also lucky enough to have several great friends along for the experience!
The race itself was AMAZING. It’s the ONLY time EVER that they close down the whole Las Vegas Strip to traffic! We started just steps outside of our hotel at Mandalay Bay, and ran past every hotel and casino on the Strip. The canons were blasting at Treasure Island. The fountains were dancing at the Bellagio. The Venetian had a ‘run through’ wedding chapel where something like 80 couples were married or had their vows renewed as they ran through the 3 mile marker. And the crowd? Let me tell you – the spectators in Vegas are priceless. Not only did we have almost 90 Elvi (Elvis-es) running the race, but the streets were lined with Celebrity look-alikes, Rat Packers, Show Girls, and tons of transvestites. People were stumbling out of casinos – squinting, unsure of the time of day – only to join the onlookers and add their hoots and hollers to the crowd. Probably half of the crowd had a drink or cigar in their hands. Near the turnaround, right around “the last neighborhood in Vegas” there were bars handing out beers to the runners. There were about 4 local high school cheering squads on the course – DECKED out Vegas style with glitter and show-girl worthy make up (or maybe that’s just what teens look like these days?).
At the finish, racers posed with show girls. The medals they draped over our sweaty heads looked like a playing card with a 13.1 of diamonds. The TeamChallenge supporters along the course did a great job of pushing me on, cheering JUST for me, making me feel like I was a hero on the course. Afterward, the TeamChallenge tent for our group doled out special treats and gave us a spot to reunite with our cheering squads/families and friends, and to catch our breath away from the crowds.
I floated on air the rest of the day. I felt a HUGE sense of accomplishment; of contribution to a cause that united a group of strangers and made us an army of fighters. Changed us from ‘average joes’ into athletes with the power to make a difference. I felt a sense of closure. Like I delivered a significant blow to an enemy that I once thought would take me down (via taking my husband from our family) but who now looked smaller, more vulnerable. Less threatening…
So to commemorate my 5th and most important Half-Marathon (and my 16th race in 18 months) I thought it was fitting to make a lasting mark on my body to match the healing scars on my heart, note the end of a dark period that resulted in lots of happiness and sunshine, and capture a moment in time that I won’t ever forget. I got a tattoo. A Roman Numeral 13.1 (I know, roman numerals don’t have decimal points but MINE does!) XIII.I Five dots underneath mark each half-marathon I’ve completed, and I’ll keep adding dots as I knock ’em down.
And so I officially call the period of Billy’s illness, recovery and return to health from Ulcerative Colitis COMPLETE. I officially close the door on that period in our lives, knowing that I made a difference for others by raising money and awareness. I don’t intend to stop supporting TeamChallenge, but for today, I know I’ve made an impact. I hope everyone that helped us along the way feels the same.
OK, what’s next? Is it time for a full marathon?