As I crossed the finish line, emotion welled up inside me. In fact, I cried. I don’t know why that happens to me after long races sometimes. It just does. I was completely spent. Nothing left in the tank. I also felt tremendous gratitude. Gratitude for being done. Gratitude for having spent a few hours on a Sunday morning in Quito with a sea of humanity – men, women, people who speak different languages, blind people, people in wheelchairs, tall and short people – all unified by one purpose: to complete the race. Everyone had trained for months. Everyone gave their all. For three hours we were brothers and sisters shouting encouragement to each other. “Vamos!”
I was also overwhelmed with gratitude for the year we have had. The Mitad del Mundo Half Marathon represents a sabbatical bookend, on the other side of The New York City Half Marathon, which I ran in March on the front end of our sabbatical. All the thinking, planning, risk taking, and ultimately stepping out in faith, has been realized as one of the richest, most rewarding years of my life. Lifetime memories are etched by incredible people, places and experiences. Walking through this year as a family has brought us close. Real close. We have learned much and we have grown.
As I neared the finish line, my son Benjamin stepped from the crowd to run the last couple hundred yards with me. On this same day, he and Adam had completed the 10K (their first 10K). “You’ve got this Dad. Almost there.”
It was a perfect finish.
The RunWith each step, the landscape passes by. Barking dogs give way to grazing cattle. Paved roads become cobblestones become dirt. Houses turn to pasture to forest. The run winds alongside a river, Mama Tungurahua casts a watchful eye. Tranquilo. With each step, the landscape passes by. Fresh legs tire, my back stiffens, the balls of my feet increasingly sense the gravel road. Muscles that didn’t exist yesterday clamor for attention now. My watch has slowed. With each step, the landscape passes by. Discovering roads, fincas, pueblos, and vistas that did not exist before. A boy with his sheep, a man with a hoe, a woman washing clothes, kids going to school. Morning springs to life. Ah, breathing in a new day. My thoughts meander. Joy, pain, hope, everything is possible, ojalá. With each step life passes by.