My alarm was set for 5:45, so naturally, I woke up at 4:30. I went to meet some friends, some running, some coming to watch, to take a group picture. As people started coming in, I got a little shaky but it stopped after a bit and I continued to feel a little sick to my stomach. After the photo, we started to make our way to the race. I put one ear bud in my ear. When I start to get in a crowd and my anxiety kicks in, music helps me, and specific songs. As we stood in the corral, I felt the anxiety, feeling sort of "stuck" in the crowd, but the music and just talking to my friend helped. At that moment, I realized that the anxiety would basically get me through. I would use that energy in a good way. The run was great. I had two moments where I had to walk. One as we had turned onto Boylston and I lost my breathe a bit at that moment. The next, after the finish line, as my stomach started to have shooting pains. We stopped to snap some pics in our "spots" along the way. I focused on running and nothing else which I think helped to eliminate any emotion or bad feelings. Just as I was starting to run again to finish fast and strong, I saw some of my girls and that helped fuel me through even though my stomach pain was increasing. I finished around the time I wanted and felt satisfied with that even though I sort of hoped I'd do better.
Now, the people. I am unbelievably grateful for my people. My absolute greatest support, my friend Jen has been there in so many ways, I cannot even put into words how thankful I am. She checked in on me every single day that first year, even on my darkest days. On days I wanted to give up, she kept me going. She has continued to check in on me and give me unwavering support. She was patient and just seems to "get it" even with the things she didn't fully understand. She never tried to push me to do anything, gave gentle advice and never tried to say she knew exactly what I was going through. I could not have asked for a better friend to be there for me on this journey.
I also have many family members and friends who have been amazing, whether it was just making me laugh or have a distraction when I needed it, some words of encouragement, financial support, or many other ways they helped. Kind words here and there along the way from people I'm not even close with were some of the other things that kept me going.
My "marathon family". I was very fortunate to find them, even if it took a while and I continue to find more people to connect with, even now, two years later. I have bonds that are here and will never go away. These people know exactly what I've gone through, they can look at me and know if I'm having a hard time and even why at that moment. I feel like these bonds have been strengthened this last few weeks. They helped me get through moments, they are a text or call away whenever needed and they just "get it" every single time like no others can. There are certain people who mean the most. I have the one friend who was the first I met, who pulled me into "the community" that changed everything about how I was coping and helped me get where I am. I have those I've become close with over time who are now "my people". Like my other friends, these people are sort of in different categories; those I communicate with daily or close to it, those who I communicate with periodically, those who I am mostly connected to on social media. They're all important.
I'm even grateful for those who showed me they aren't or couldn't be there for me. I now have a clear understanding of who can/will be there and who won't when I need it. It doesn't make me eliminate these people from my life, but it lets me know who fits where in my life.
Last, I am grateful for the way I've chosen to deal with all of this. I have tried to face it head on and even though that didn't always work, even though I had days when I wanted to crawl in a hole or curl up in bed, I didn't stay in that place for long because I was determined. I was determined to not let this thing I went through become who I was. I refused to feel like anyone or any event could have that power over me. I chose to focus on the positive as much as I possibly could during these times. I knew I'd eventually start finding my way out, though sometimes I worried I wouldn't. I now have so many more great days than difficult days and I know the great days will continue to increase. I have an amazing life to live with my people by my side and this is just the beginning.
So, thank you. Thank you to those who were there before and stayed close through the last two years, thank you to those who have entered my life and shown me just how amazingly beautiful people and life can be and thank you to those who continue to inspire and support me with what I am dealing with now and what I will face in the future. There are even people I haven't met in person or just recently met in person that I am inspired and supported by and that is just an amazing thing, to not even know someone and yet have a strong connection to them. Thank you to anyone who reads this. And finally thank you to those who send me messages to tell me I inspire you. It is an extremely humbling feeling and one that makes me feel that sharing all of this journey and being so open about my life with this and everything else is worth it, even if it helps one person in any way.