I picked the firefighter that looked most like Colin. He told me congratulations...
(This actually is not the firefighter that I got my necklace from)
.....and handed me my little blue box.
It was the most beautiful site I've seen in a long time!
After collecting all of my post-race chachka and food, I went on to look around at the activities that I could partake in while waiting for my sister to finish. There were massages, stretch clinics, and other girlie type activities.
I went on to get my lunch and check in at the Team In Training tent. I met up with one of the Louisiana girls, Sarah. She was so sweet and supportive of me waiting for Karen. She got me a spot up front near the Finish Line and waited for Louisiana finishers as well.
It was chilly and so we wrapped up in our foil warmers and waited cheering on all of the finishers.
Then was KAREN'S BIG FINISH!
She was awesome. I was a nervous wreck waiting for her. I can't even imagine running that kind of distance. But she has trained hard for this. She was ready.
I can't even explain how wonderful it was to see her coming up. I noticed her first because of her pink visor. We were yellin' like crazy. Her coach, Maury, ran with her in.
When she passed by me I yelled like crazy. She finally saw me. I've heard her say since that I was crying.... that does not surprise me, but I wasn't aware of it.
She crossed that finish line and collected her necklace too.
I know it must have been an awesome experience for her. In her words:
"As I crested the hill, and could see the finish line just a few hundred yards below, I really began to sob. Then I saw my coach, smiling big as ever, running towards me to run with me in. I honestly don't know if I would have made across the finish running if she hadn't been there with me. I had just about reached the point that I thought I'd walk the rest of the way in, even though my goals were 1) to finish and 2) to finish running.
Then....the sight that meant the most. My sister.
She had waited 2 1/2 hours at the finish, AFTER RUNNING HER OWN RACE, for me to finish. She had tears streaming down her face, the biggest smile I'd ever seen her wear, her Fight Like a Tiger T-shirt, and she was waving her arm wildly over her head and screaming my name. For that moment, I not only saw her, but also my parents. She was a living, breathing reminder of why I was doing this crazy race. I could see my mom beaming through her smile, and I could see my dad choking back tears of pride in her eyes. That was why I ran the race...and I'm so grateful that she was there for me at the finish.
I crossed the finish line, grabbed the first "little blue box" I saw without paying any attention to the firemen in tuxedos holding the boxes on a silver platter (one of the most heavily advertised perks of this race). I grabbed my t-shirt, some gatorade, a sandwich, and told Mary Beth I was ready to get back to the hotel, so we made the LONG trek to the busses....which was almost as bad as the last mile of the course."
It was such an exciting time. She actually walked around a bit afterward. I would have fallen down and had to be carted off if I ran that long. But she still looked good.
Karen, I am truly amazed at your strength and even more impressed by your perseverance.