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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

State #1: Maine, Mount Desert Island Marathon, 2008

Jenny biked all 26.2 miles along my side :) Special thanks to Jenny Penny for giving me gatorade and listening to me moan and groan the last 6 miles!

my first marathon!
After my father passed away, I didn’t do anything for days.  I gave up what I loved the most.  I gave up on running.  I felt like my dad was no longer there to cheer me on at college track and cross-country meets.  I didn’t realize he would always be there.  I decided to employ a coping mechanism and way to my memorialize father’s life.  Running became my outlet.  I wasn’t looking to set a record time, I just wanted to finish.  My dad’s attitude in life wasn’t to be the best, but to try your hardest and to give it all you’ve got.  I chose Mount Desert Island as my first marathon because my father grew up in Southwest Harbor, Maine.  I spent many summer days with my grandparents and him there.  The course itself is very challenging with rolling steep hills.  Once I registered, I knew my life would be never be the same.                           

It was a cool, crisp October day and I was very nervous but excited to run.  Weeks before the race, I had a t-shirt screen-printed with the picture below.  My dad gave me this picture in 1992, when I was six years old.  I stepped up to the line of runners after warming up.  Many runners came up to me and gave me a hug, pat on the back, or shared their losses with me.  I specifically remember one man who came up to me and showed me a pin of his daughter who passed away at a very young age from leukemia.  I felt inspired.  I felt honored.  I was so fortunate to have my father for twenty years.  Before I knew it the gun went off and we were well on our way.                   
Along the course, there were several spots that made me think of my dad and the fun times we shared together. I talked to many runners and ran alongside runners from out of state, first time marathoners, and experienced marathoners. Everyone had their own story. Everyone had their own reason for running. The most challenging part of the race was the last mile when I passed the house my dad grew up in on Main St. in Southwest Harbor. I had tears of happiness, joy, and sadness. Through the pain of running for over five hours, I knew he was with me. I could almost feel my dad giving me the extra push and saying “thank you Bethy, I love you.” When I reached the finish line, I cried with my mom, aunt, and friend Jen who biked the marathon with me. The pain and feeling of accomplishment from finishing a marathon is addictive. The morning after the marathon, several marathoners were staying at our hotel, Acadia Inn in Bar Harbor and sharing their marathon stories. One man was talking to the race director, Gary Allen, about how he had finished fifty marathons, one in each state of the United States...what an awesome way to see the United States. It was amazing to hear him talk.  This is how “50 for Billy” began.


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