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Old Jan 28, 2008, 01:19 PM
Terri's Marathon Story

Before competing in my first Transplant Games in 2000, I had never been competitive or into anything athletically challenging. After seeing a news story about the games where they showed a girl running, I was moved by it and knew one way or another I had be apart it. At the time running the 100 meters that I was planning to enter was hard to me but after months of training, it became second nature to me. My friend Andy, encouraged me to also do the 200 m, I ended up winning the silver in it. On the back of that medal it said "Going The Distance". I look back at that now and think it was a sign of what was to come but if someone would've told me then that I was going to run 26 miles, I would've doubled over laughing. September 9, 2006, I ran my first mile ever. I originally was trying to do that to increase my stamina and help my times at the games except I couldn't stop. Over the course of a year, I kept running enough to where I entered the Marine Corps Marathon. There was the 14th street bridge cut off, you had to be at the bridge by 1:15. Going by some of my 20 mile runs, I was concerned that I wasn't going to make it.

I had many a lot of reasons for wanting to do it but mainly to find out if the same girl who couldn't run a lap around the track had it in her. I also wanted to be an example to other transplant recipients not to think of yourself as sick, take your gift and use it for all its worth.

~*~*~ RACE DAY October, 28, 2007 ~*~*~
I already attached my bib to my shirt the night before so I could just throw it on and go. I had two bibs, one was my number (1963) and the other one was to write whatever I wanted. One of my other friends from the games, Tom's sister Janet, had been waiting for a kidney transplant for over three years and got the call four days before the race. His words to me were "When you're running it, don't think about the miles ahead. Once you're half way, think about the miles you put behind you and that should drive you to finish and not quit. Each mile can represent a transplant that has saved someone's life." I wrote on that bib "TERRI *4" JANET". The back of my running shirt said "Liver Transplant Survivor - July 2, 1991". I put on my Arkansas Razorback Hog pin. I always wear it during a race in honor of my donor who is from Arkansas.

Once everything was on, I looked at myself in the mirror and that's when it hit me what was about to happen. I walked back into the living room and Alison, our team manager asked if I was ready to run. I said I hope so, this is as ready as I'm going to get. I had her put my chip on because by then I was too nervous to do anything. With that done, out the door we went. She dropped me off at the shuttle that was taking us to the start. We both got out of the car and hugged each other. I started crying and she said this was it, you did the hard part, the rest is easy. I walked over to the start and found my corral. I stood there for what felt like hours. I was amazed at how many people were registered. It kind of reminded me of being at the transplant games except I was probably the only transplant recipient there.

When they turned us loose, it took me probably 20 minutes to cross the start. I spent six months training for this and the only thing left to stop me was that bridge. I told myself to run hard and not let up till I saw the bridge. By the time I reached mile 10, I felt like I wasn't moving fast enough and started worrying about not making it. I wasn't aware of how fast I was going. I hadn't been looking at the clocks or my watch. At the end of the half way point, I looked up at the clock and saw it said 2:49. I had beaten my half marathon time I did in May which was 3:11. I read somewhere that you run the first 20 miles with your legs and the last 6 with your heart. That is where the real race happens. I guess that is true because to me the first 20 felt like nothing and my last 6 was a nightmare.

When I got to mile 19 and saw the bridge, I looked at my watch and saw I made it with an hour to spare. I started crying because I knew I had 7 miles to go and was going to finish from there. During my training, I thought of this bridge, had a picture of it on my computer and looked at it everyday. I purposely slowed down running across the bridge taking it in. When I got to mile 23, I ran under an overpass and wanted to lean up against the wall for a couple of seconds but knew if I did, I wasn't going to move again. By the time I got to mile 25 my back was killing me and legs were cramping. I was in so much pain then that I started talking to myself saying "That's it, I'm not running another step, this hurts, I am going to stop now!" I wanted to stop but couldn't make myself do it. All I kept thinking about was my donor and Janet. I was running along side another girl for a little bit near the end and we both were complaining about the pain. I noticed the hill leading to the finish. I asked is that the finish or am I hallucinating? She said yep that's it! I looked back at that hill, then back at the girl. I congratulating her and said I can't take this anymore, I am out of here and took off as hard as I could. After I crossed the finish, I was greeted by a very cute marine. He congratulated me and placed the medal around my neck and that's when I broke down and lost it. I'm sure he appreciated me crying all over his uniform. I left the finishing area thinking ME, marathon, RAN, not dead!

Even though the training was more than I had bargained for and the race left me very sore for a week, I can't say I regret any of it. Like what Tom has always said "It's all in your mind and heart, you have to really want it". If I can do it then it proves it isn't that impossible.
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