A Lake In My Shoes

There is a lake is my shoes and it is thrashes back and forth between my heel and toes. My feet are cold. A waterfall runs from the top of my head down my back, into my pants, past my legs, rushing to my ankles and into my feet. The water is carried to my toes by the constant steps I am taking. Arms glide at my sides pushing me forward. The rain never stops and when it does it is hard to tell because I am wet and cold and there is a lake in my shoes. I cringe as I run up the hills and welcome the momentum when I run down the hills.

At the start of the marathon, I pointed out the landmarks to my friend Camille who had come down from Seattle to run with me. But by the 15th mile and with the constant lake in my shoes I stop telling her about the beauty of L.A. We push forward together. Often willing the rain that is causing the waterfalls and and rivers and lakes in our bodies to stop. But the rain does not hear our pleas. We push against the wind. We tell each other that we can’t quit.

I tell Camille that this will be my last marathon and I am silent when she says it won’t be. I know that she is right. But I can’t help but hope that I won’t want to do another one after this.

The lake in my shoes is constant. I don’t feel pain. I feel cold but it is a blessing. It keeps us moving. Every step we take is closer to the finish line. We pass volunteers and spectators and thank them every chance we get. The motivation they provide stops us from slowing down.

“You’re almost there,” they tell us.

“Keep going!” they scream to us.

“You’ve made it this far, what’s another five miles?” they remind us.

Camille and I agree that they are the true heroes. They are wet just like us. Standing still and handing out water or snacks to fuel us. At least we’re moving and our bodies providing heat.

Mile 23.

We stop to pee and then keep moving forward. The rain continues. The lake swells and starts to pour out of my shoes.

I want to quit. I slow down. Camille tells me that we should try to run all the way to the end without stopping. I grudgingly agree.

Mile 26.

Suddenly it starts to pour. The wind pushes us back. We feel it against our chests. Our legs become heavier. We push forward. We see the finish line. We thought we would never live this through. But we have.

We open up our jackets. We want the cameras to catch the East LA Rep logo on our shirts. Our arms are up in the air. We are smiling and happy to be done.

A few feet away from the finish line, a brave volunteer puts the medal around my neck. My hands rush to my face as I start to weep. I look over at Camille and she is leaning into my shoulder. She also weeps. We are exhausted.

As if on cue and to wash away our tears, a torrential downpour comes down on us, and the lake in our shoes now feels like an ocean. An ocean filled with possibilities.