Culture

I Finished Last In A Marathon…And Felt Proud

I finished my first marathon in last place, but felt like I won.

 

haley ayure

HALEY AYURE
Age: 28
Tampa, FL

Running a marathon has been on my bucket list forever. I’ve always been attracted to longer distances because of the discipline it requires and the opportunity it allows to be alone with your thoughts. So when my best friend asked me to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Marathon with her this past fall, I signed up and we began training.

I followed my training plan religiously and, when I got to the big 20-mile-long run, I was anxious to see how I would fare. I finished that run feeling strong and confident that I could—and would—make it through the 26.2-mile race.

But everything changed the following week during my 12-mile taper run. I tweaked my knee and ended up injuring it to the point where I had to see a physical therapist. I spent the remaining weeks going to rehab in hopes that the joint would heal quickly.

Related: I Finally Discovered The Runners High

On race day I lined up beside my best friend, not sure what the next few hours would hold. My knee was in pain from the start and by mile 13, the swelling made it difficult to run. I felt like my body was failing me and I was only halfway through the race. At that point I was on a stretch of the course that ran along a highway, feeling cold and lonely as I realized I’d have to walk if I wanted to finish. I wasn’t sure that I could do that alone. Luckily, I had my phone with me and was able to call my husband, who had been waiting at the finish.

At that point it would have been much easier for me to quit, but I couldn’t give up on myself. I walked from mile 13 to 20, hoping at each mile to find my husband. Finally at mile 20, he came on the course with me. Hand-in-hand, we hobbled the final 6 miles together and lost sight of everyone around us (even the police brigade that followed patiently behind!). Just before the finish, my husband let go of my hand and I crossed the line alone to complete my first marathon. The band played one last song for me as I soaked in  the fact that I accomplished my goal.

Related: I Beat My Body’s Barriers To The Finish Line

I LEARNED that sometimes the most beautiful moments come from times when you have to slow down. Like most other women, I’m busy, stressed and quite the perfectionist. I don’t always have to be running (literally and figuratively) to achieve. Slowing down and allowing someone to walk alongside you can be the most rewarding win—even when you “lose.”