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Funny Story October 22, 2008

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Now. Now I have time to sit down and tell you about the half-marathon. Also, in this post, we will draw the winner of the socks! I have internet at home again! Hooray! I haven't even drawn the name yet. As I type, no one knows who's won!

I find that thrilling.

Okay, so. The run.

Ahem. Funny story.

I mean, it WASN'T a funny story, but it has a happy ending.

So, it's Saturday. My friend Stephanie who is also running, is on her way to pick me up. It is the day before the run, and we're going to do the packet pick-up. I know that I need to print out my barcode. Thank god for gmail -- I archive everything, so it should be a snap.

Well. I go to the email from last March labeled Registration Confirmation.

I print it out. There's no barcode. Then I realize this email is from late March, but I know they didn't draw the winners (the race is so popular they do registration on a lottery basis) until April 1st. But this says clearly, all over it, Registration Confirmation. I read more closely. In tiny letters, it says Registration Confirmation for the random drawing. Okay, this isn't the email.

I can't find the email. Can't find it anywhere. I go look up my name on the site. Under my name it says Nike Half Marathon, No Status. That's okay then. I don't know what No Status means, but there's my name, and next to it is listed Nike Half Marathon. At least I know I'm registered.

I remember on April 1st, Stephanie texted me to say she'd gotten into the race. I remember racing to my email and finding that I, too, had been accepted! I just have to find that email.

So I scroll back to April 1st emails. Here it is!


Thank you for your interest in the 2008 Nike Women’s Marathon. Unfortunately, your name was not selected through this year’s random drawing process. We received over 30,000 registration entries, and we can only accept 20,000 runners. But there is good news: there are other ways that you can
still participate.

Team In Training. Training. Support. Inspiration.

Team in Training, our partner through race beneficiary — the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, still has registrations reserved. If you would like to participate in the 2008 Nike Women’s Marathon through Team in Training, call 800.482.TEAM or check out the link below.

Participate with Team in Training »

We’ve saved a spot for you.
Nike+ Women’s Half Marathon – Run Like a Girl Wherever You Are


You can still take part with Nike+. Same day, same great cause. Anyone, anywhere in the world, who registers for the event, uses Nike+ when they run and logs 13.1 miles on nikeplus.com on October 19th,

You may notice that that crucial line. "We've saved a spot for you." And "Nike+ Women's Half Marathon."

You may MISS, as I had, the second sentence (printed in TINY letters in light gray on a dark gray background) that says, "Unfortunately, your name was not selected through this year's random drawing process." The "spot" (writ big, in black) they'd saved for me was for Nike+, not Nike. This meant I was more than welcome to run a half marathon wherever I happened to be that day, using the Nike+ technology.

I missed the plus part. I missed the "you didn't get in" part. I'd been fundraising and training for months for a RACE I WASN'T IN. (You give your CC info when you enter the drawing, and I'd never even noticed I hadn't been charged.)

I burst into tears which turned into heaving sobs. When Stephanie arrived, her husband who was with her thought someone had died. Oh, the look on her face. She was so bummed for me, but this was her first race! I knew she didn't want to do it alone.

I decided I'd go to packet pickup and see if I could get in somehow, some way. I'd punk-rock it if I had to, running it with Steph and then not going over the finish line (where they check to make sure you have a number). But, OH the SUCKITUDE.

I was so mad at myself. I can blame poor email graphics, but what it came right down to it, I hadn't read the email in full. It was my fault. My own stupid, stupid fault.

When we got there, I went straight to the Solutions desk. I wanted to talk to this nice-looking girl who looked like she might be sympathetic to a passionate dumb-ass. But instead I got a guy who, as soon as he heard that I'd raised money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation and not Team in Training (who supports the Nike Marathon), he told me there was nothing they could do. No way, no how. I was in tears again.

The nice-looking girl next to him put her hand out.

"You said your mother died?"

(Hell, yes, I'd pulled that card.)  I nodded.

"Come over here."

I did.

"You fund raised?"

"Two thousand, three hundred, and fifteen dollars."

"You trained?"

"Yes," I wailed. "I'm just STOOOPID!"

"Here, fill this out." She gave me an entry form. It was only the table between us that prevented me from kissing her.

CAN YOU IMAGINE? If I hadn't been able to run? I would have been devastated. And I got to go.

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Me'n'Steph. I just got in. SO HAPPY.

It was awesome. It was a slow day, but I came in 8431 out of 16400, so I was smack in the middle, which doesn't suck at all. Poor Stephanie hurt her knee, so I walked with her a while before I finally left her with another walker. I hated to do it, but we'd both agreed it would be okay if one of us went ahead (I'd always thought SHE would go ahead, though, not me). But I just felt like running. Running felt great.

And I was running for Mom. In the sea of thousands and thousands of purple Team In Training shirts, I was the only one in orange. It meant so much to me.

It meant so much to me when the guy cheering said it was only four hundred yards till the finish line. I turned the corner in the cool salt air onto the Great Highway and saw the finish line. I choked up. Then, I saw that the person making sure we were all wearing our legally bought and paid for numbers was my nice-looking girl who let me register! I said, "it's me!" and she beamed and hugged me, sweat and all, and her smile was so flipping gorgeous.

I started to really cry. PEOPLE. Do NOT cry two hundred yards from running to a finish line. I started to hyperventilate, literally. I was gasping for air like a fish. My throat felt like it was closing up. I knew Lala was up there, and I was going to hit the pavement as I passed out right in front of her if didn't stop crying. So I forcibly made myself stop sobbing and got enough air to get over the finish line and pick up my Tiffany necklace (that didn't quite fit, must get a bigger chain) from one of the fire-fighters wearing tuxedos (see why they have to do a random drawing?).

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Lala was there! She'd never been able to meet me at any of my finish lines before this (timing or location, like being in another state, was always wrong), so I was thrilled. I didn't know it made that much difference having someone there watching for me. But it did. (See? She's wearing the MMRF Marathon Support shirt they sent me. And her hair matches.)

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She was so proud of me. And she snuck a picture of my back that I didn't know she'd taken until later:

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That's what everyone behind me saw as I raced by them. Or as they raced by me, which was more usually the case.

I felt well-enough trained, which was amazing! I absolutely do NOT see another marathon in my life, ever, but more halfs. For sure. They're just right -- they're challenging, and you don't know if you'll be able to do it, but then you DO make it, and it feels wonderful and you can still walk the next day.

And NO BLISTERS! Thanks to pink duct tape.

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Clara also put her paw in the picture to show she had no blisters, either, but she had not just run 13.1 miles, so whatever.

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Beer after running!

Beer is a race tradition. Plenty of carbs, and it helps you relax. Mmmm. We went to Park Chow, which was perfect. There were lots of other runners there, too, indulging.

I was proud of myself. And I was proud of Steph, making it over the finish line, even though she was in pain (she was smart to stop running, though. She wants to keep running). And I was proud of YOU for supporting me through pledges and through love. I swear, I could feel y'all there.

Now, drumroll, please:

The winner, picked by Random.org, is......

Shannon H. from Tracy, California! Shannon, I'll email you with details. Congrats!

To the rest of you, thank you. With all my heart, thank you. In helping me, you've helped so many other people who really, really need it. All love.

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Comments

Great, great story. I'm so glad you ran!

Yay for getting to run, finishing way up in the pack, no blisters, Lala at the finish line...yay for an excellent morning story before I go walk the dog!

I cried and cried after my marathon. I nearly made the mistake of crying before I got to the end because I saw my brother. GG says she's never seen anyone so pleased to see her, even if I did cry all over her. I think you had a better excuse.

Yay for sympathetic people helping!

Great story, I'm soooooo glad it had a happy ending.

Congratulations on it all. You're awesome.

I have tears in my eyes after reading your post. I hope that the girl who helped you get in recieves MAJOR good karma; what a sweetheart! I'm so glad you got to run.

I was going to really hate the Team in Training ppl. and the Nike ppl if you didn't get to run (maybe not their fault, but still, I'd be mad)

Congrats on a great race!

This was really a heart warming story....especially the tirbute to you mom! RUN ON!

OMG- Thank goodness you went to beg!!!! That would have been too sad!

What a story! It just goes to show it never hurts to ask. Or beg. Or cry. Or whatever.

My very best friend from Richmond ran in the full marathon that day, in honor of her dad, who died of melanoma. I was thinking of you both all day.

Oh Rachael, that is such a wonderful story! Yay for nice people in the world, yay for you running and yay for your sweet mama. I'm sure she's so proud.

No fair - you made me go and cry! So glad you got to run and finish. I will say a prayer for the woman who helped you.

Okay, so the "funny" part of that story gave me a stomach ache (even though I know it must have turned out alright) and now you've got me crying at work.

Way to go, girl.

;-)

Geeze Louise, you practically had me in tears!! What a story. I am SO GRATEFUL to that girl that she let you run - she's got something good coming to her, I am sure of that. And I'm so proud of you for finishing! Way to go!!

I also prefer the half marathon distance so much more. I actually love it - it's pretty long, hard, and trying, but I love being able to walk afterwards :)

Congratulations!!!

Evidence that you are a great storyteller: I read this post and bawled the way I do at the end of sports movies. Thanks for sharing!

Well, that's quite a story, but hurray for the happy ending! I bet your Mom was helping nudge them into letting you race, too, because it's what a Mom would do... Good for you!

what a story! congratulations on finishing - i can't even imagine beginning something like a 1/4 marathon!!

jen

Dude, you made me choke up. I would have done something just that stupid myself. It makes you feel better about the entire human race to read about that girl who let you in. I'm glad you got to do it!

What length of chain to you need? I make jewelery as a hobby, and have bits of chain and odds and ends lying around.

Others have praised your storytelling. Others have expressed their joy and gratitude. They speak for me as well.

Hey Rachael, you astound me, woman.

Your mom was blessed with you. And the rest of us are, too.

((((HUGS)))

Woohoo, you are awesome, Rachel!

That girl who helped you ABSOLUTELY has some good things coming her way!

Gah! I got all weepy at work! So glad it worked out and I'm so proud of you!!!!

I sat here and read your post and cried! It was very inspirational and I loved it! Thank you. and Congratulations!

Oh, Jeez, girl, I held it together till I got to the picture of your back that Lala took. You see, little momma and MY momma have the same birthday. Little momma was born 20 years to the day after my momma. so now I'm crying along with Debbie (comment above me) and all the others. WooT! you did it!! much love....

I'm all teary now. I'm sooo happy that you got to run for your mama.

Dude. Awesome.

Yay! Rachael rocks!

Congrats on finishing and finagling your way into the race. You are a crafty babe in more ways than one.

I am SO PROUD of you! You had me tearing up here at work. I'm so glad you got to run. So flipping proud of you :) :) :)

Congrats on the race ... I'm so glad everything worked out so well!

Amazing - congratulations on your perseverance in all regards!

oh schmoo, I'm SO glad you got to run. this post made me cry. you rock, girlie.

YAY! Congrats! So glad that it worked out, I was scared when you started telling the story!

Rachael, you always have the BESTEST stories and I bet you could convince an Eskimo to buy ice cubes if it was for a good cause ;)

Congrats, sweetie!

I am so, so glad that you got to run!

My friend has a saying about the whole half/full marathon debate - halves are half the run but all the fun.

Yay, I'm so glad you got to run!!! Congrats!

Great story. Congratulations on finishing your race!

The best stories happen to you -- SO glad this one had a happy ending! And I'm so proud of you for doing so well. I'm going to haul my butt outside for a run today, just for you. Mwah!

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at [email protected] to make arrangements.

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