Blind Faith

Blind faith—that’s what I’d call it—faith in what a few others thought of my physical capacity for endurance running. After all, I had never been a runner. Kathy and Chris G., the 2
marathoners in the group, seemed to think I was in shape enough, so I thought I would give it a shot—finishing a marathon…getting those bragging rights. Ironically, running a marathon was one of those things I had explicitly ruled out, once upon a time. But I was a lot younger then. It meant less then.

We trained in San Francisco in the winter. That means very early mornings of darkness, cold, sometimes wind, often rain, and all those merciless hills. We were ready for anything in Los
Angeles. Or so I thought. We got it all—cold, wind, and rain—the coldest, gustiest, rainiest LA marathon to date.

I had to re-tie my shoes twice—at mile 8 and at mile 18—and re-Vaseline my feet once, with stiff, icy cold fingers. While the decision was mine whether to continue or not, I just couldn’t
consider giving up—or rather, giving in—when we had all worked so hard together to get here. All that teamwork was behind me too. So, I kept running.

Finally getting to the ocean—with people shouting “Go Brennan! You’ve got it! It’s just around the corner!”—I realized once around that corner it was actually another unimaginable half mile of cold, wind, and rain. But I could see the great big archway which read “FINISH”, and all I could hear in my head was that command that gets us across that finish line every race piece we do in dragon boating: “FINISH I-I-I-I-I-T!!!!!!” It helped. I may have run my fastest half mile of the day right then.

I finished. I got my medal. I got my Mylar blanket. And then as I was waddling back to my hotel room, I sobbed. I don’t know why, but I hear that’s what some people do after their first
marathon. It just hit me. I thanked Jose and my dad. I said a quick prayer for my running buddies still out there in the rain somewhere. Awesome… just awesome…