After I crossed the finish line on Sunday, I was very overwhelmed. Yes, I finished a marathon, but more overwhelming than that was the encounter that I had about six or seven miles earlier. I was so astounded that it was hard for me to express to my friends and family what just happened. The next day, I posted the event in a status on my Facebook. Apparently, friends, family, co-workers and strangers felt overwhelmed by the story too. Over 600 likes and countless shares later, I figured I would share that exact post. It reads as follows:
October 12th at 9:39AM
I don’t usually share stories on Facebook but I thought this was worth sharing: Mile 1 through 19 of the marathon wasn’t too bad. I’d say pretty comparable to my long runs during training. For some reason, I decided at 19 that I needed to walk a little bit to give myself a mental break. To anyone who’s interested in running a marathon, here’s a little tip…never walk at this point in the race. My whole body felt like glass and it was very difficult to start running again- both physically and mentally. I started to stretch at the side of the road and was crouching down wondering how I was going to finish this race. At this point in the race, you’re not yourself- I truly can’t explain the mental pain you go through. I don’t pray very often, but I found myself asking someone to send me someone to help me. I just needed someone to help me start moving again. About 10 minutes later, a man ran past me and complimented the back of my shirt, which read, ‘Got Freedom?’ I looked up and thanked him as he ran away, and noticed about six feet out from me that he turned around. He asked me if he could walk with me for a little bit and then asked me why I was wearing a Salute Inc shirt. He shared with me that he was in the Army for 32 years and that he was a Veteran. “I’m not sure if you know this, but I was trained to never leave anyone behind… so I’m sorry to say that you’re stuck with me for six more miles.” This man, someone who I did not know, stayed by my side for the remainder of the marathon. He made me high five people on the sidelines, pulled me aside to jump in front of cameramen to take goofy pictures and told me a few stories about his time in the Army. He grabbed me water and Gatorade at every aid station, always giving me water before he helped himself. When I told him to please go on without me (I actually begged him) and told him I was fine, he asked me what I was feeling and I said guilty for slowing him down. His response? “Why should you feel guilty? I made a friend for life.”
I couldn’t make this up if I tried. Pete, where ever you are…I know I creepily told you that I was going to name my first born after you…. it was just about all I could think of to express to you how much your kindness meant to me in the moment.
How crazy that the person who helped me was a Vet? Not surprising, but remarkable nonetheless. You truly made this whole process worth it. The biggest thank you to Pete, all those who supported and donated to Salute Inc, and our Veterans and their families.