Sunday, November 05, 2006

At the Finish

Hello from the finish line!

Let me, however, start with the night before. As you know, Friday was a rest day spent taking care of blistered feet, raw and seeping with blood and pus. Almost every other foot in camp that belonged to a runner bore a black toe nail ready to come off or a red heel. It was a podiatrist's heaven. Some people limped around on legs that were swollen to twice their size due to poor circulation and and the heat. Literally some looked as if the beginnings of elephantitis was setting in. So we lay around, sleeping, chatting and sorting out the last of our rations, throwing away anything that we would not consume in the next 18 hours.

Around noon on Friday, five people still were out on the course. I asked my tent mate Victoria if she wanted to come with me to see if we could find them and encourage them through the last few miles. We headed on down through the village but didn't get far as we were asked to go into one of the homes. Although quite poor by our standards, the children eagerly had us sit down, producing a bowl of fava beans. Victoria hesitated to eat any but I assured her a few wouldn`t put her in the med tent with a case of dysentary. We chatted away and they just looked at us and smiled. With hand motions they indicated that they would like some skin cream. We went back to our tents collected our remaining SPF cream, sewing kits and flip flops and handed them around. Thanks came in the form of huge smiles.

Back to what you really want to know about, the last stage. We had to be on a bus at 2:30 in the morning Saturday heading back to Cairo for the last 12K. So no one really got alot of sleep, we all tried to grab a few more hours on the bus and wolfing down whatever it was we had deemed to call breakfast. For me it was two power bars; I think both from Italy. We arrived at the start, took care of calls of nature by the road side as there was no where else to go. The first group was set to go at 10 am. The second group was set to go at at 11 am. The top ten runners were scheduled to go at noon. I took off pumped with adrenaline. I ran my best, constantly telling my self to forget the pain, just put one foot in front of the other and don't wish away the moment, don't think about what lies in the future, live this moment, run with your heart. I did. I sang the National Anthem, America the Beautiful and Amazing Grace. One more hill had to be climbed, a reminder of the what this race was about. I crested the top and there before me were the Pyramids of Giza. Goose bumps surfaced and I felt another surge of energy. I ran, hard and with deliberate purpose.

A volunteer told me there was 1 K to go. My legs pumped up and down, my strides lengthened and I tell you, I am certainly not a fast runner, but I was fast then. I passed two runners, risking a fall by not slowing down over the rocky uneven terrain.

A tourist asked me as I passed, "What are you running a marathon or something?"

"Yeah, something like that," I responded.

There it was, just ahead, the beautiful green "RacingThePlanet" banner, the band was playing an aria from "Aida." I ran for the sheer joy of being able to still run after six days. A huge silver medal on a green ribbon was put around my neck. My picture was taken and I headed over to Dr. Brandee to get weighed in and have my body fat calibrated. I honestly can not recall my beginning body weight and body fat percentage but when Dr. Brandee emails me the numbers I will certainly share them with you in my post blog.

Pizza Hut provided endless amounts of pizza, there was soda and yes more water. After finishing up with Dr. Brandee I wolfed down in a most un lady like way, two pieces of pizza. I wanted more, but my stomach started cramping. Treated myself to an orange soda and sat on an oriental rug staring up at the splendid massive Pyramids which I had just run around.

At that moment, I felt like the Queen of Egypt. I know that I didn't run a pretty or fast race, but I felt as if I had run a brave race. There will be more, I promise.

I will be headed for the airport in a few short hours for a 3:45 am flight. I am coming home a much better woman. Of that I am certain. I have seen heaven when I looked up at the blue sky during the day and star lit sky at night, and I have felt as if I were in hell perhaps more than once during this race. I know the difference between discomfort and pain, and I know that I will feel pain again because, yes, I will run another ultra again.

To all of you who have read and written, you have fueled me with such positive energy and so you should know that when I ran, you ran with me.

Cheers, Jacqueline

Editors Note: Jacquline finished 42nd out of the 55 competitors to complete the race. She was ninth out of 13 females. Jimmi Olsen of Denmark was the winner. First place female was Claire Price of the United Kingdom, who came in fifth overall.

Photo Credit: RacingThePlanet


Blogger Amy Withington said...

The blogspot was down for a while, so we're sure there are also many others wishing to say CONGRATULATIONS!!! You did it! Way to go! We are so proud of you, and have been following your progress as a family every day. Your spirit and endurance are truly inspirational, and your writing is wonderful. We are cheering from afar to welcome you home! Hugs from us all, Amy, Bob, Aidan, Liam and Sylvia

5:45 PM  
Blogger J&C said...

Congratulations Jacqueline! We have read everything everyday with bated breath -- been with you at the lowest and the highest...Just know that Children's Hospital and all of Philadelphia -- indeed it should be all the US -- are proud of you should be grateful for the good news and wondrous inspiration you have brought us over the last week. Have safe travels home. We will see you on Thursday. There are many who want to hear the unwritten part!

7:49 PM  
Blogger gaksulia said...

Congrats! I've been following the live results since my brother John was also racing, and found this blog. You're truly inspirational!

1:13 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home