One of the female loves of my life, Melanie Bongiovanni, ran her first marathon yesterday. She was able to participate in New York's because she joined the Road Runners club and completed all of the qualifying races. Already a champion in my book (full-time pediatric nurse at NY Presbyterian hospital, student at NYU to become a nurse practitioner, loyal/loving daughter, sister, aunt, and friend), she took on training for the marathon. Her training regimen paid off tremendously. In her words, "she danced the whole way."
As a spectator, it was more emotional and exhilirating than I ever imagined. The runners' fierce energy and raw determination was contagious. We watched from the 18 mile mark. I thought this was going to be like tailgating and when Mel ran by we'd reach over the caution tape for a high five and go back to partying. Not even close. I was entranced, cheering at the top of my lungs for every runner with a name on his/her shirt. Each human that ran past flashed the inspirational thought though my brain: "He/she has run 18 miles and still has 8 more to go."
After two hours of rejoicing for strangers, we saw Mel coming. I had goosebumps covering my body and tears in my eyes. The only thing I could think to do was sneak into the race and run with her. We ran for a mile together. She was talking like we were sitting at a coffee shop. Unbelievable. Mel finished the marathon in 4 hours and 20 minutes. After the race, she walked into the bar for the after party where her best friends and family were anticipating her arrival. As she walk towards our table, we got the whole place chanting "MEL-A-NIE! MEL-A-NIE!!!" It was a blast and an honor to celebrate the champion who is Melanie Bongiovanni.
(Side note: In the bar I was secretly thinking...this is almost better than a wedding! Mel gets to show up in a sports bra and running shorts at a dive bar and drink and dance with her favorite people. Pretty awesome, right?!)