I was exhausted, bone-tired. Last Sunday I joined approximately 25,000 others in walking a half-marathon in Las Vegas. (Well, actually most of them ran it!)
Being Las Vegas, this marathon was anything but typical (not that I have any other marathon experience to compare it with, and not that I’m planning on having any future marathon experience!). It took place in the evening along Las Vegas Boulevard – the Strip – which was closed for the duration (a phenomenon in and of itself).
There were bands along the way (it was sponsored by Zappos – I’m sure my shoe purchases helped enable their corporate generosity! – and it was a “rock and roll” event), there were cheering crowds, there were costumed participants and, in true Vegas style, there was an opportunity to stop for three minutes and either get married (you save a lot on hall rentals and bridesmaids dresses this way) or renew your vows (I heard that 70 couples took the plunge!).
There was definitely a sense of excitement (or something) in the air. But that wasn’t why I was there (my husband didn’t come, so the “renew your vows” moment wasn’t an option). While the majority of runners were participating in support of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (definitely a worthy cause), I was there with 70 others in support of Chai Lifeline, a wonderful organization whose mission is “to restore the light of childhood to children whose innocence ended when life-threatening or lifelong illness was diagnosed.”
They had been there for us when my granddaughter was ill and, in a particularly sensitive and thoughtful way, had always brought gifts for her older brother when they came to visit. What they may be most famous for is their summer camp, Camp Simcha, a camp for children with cancer or other hematologic illnesses. The enthusiasm and spirit at this camp is contagious and just for this brief time, these children can have fun and try to forget about their challenges.
The counselors themselves are an inspiration. And that’s what kept me walking – even though my toes were numb, even though the 40 mile per hour wind almost knocked my sheitel off (!), even though the port-a-potties were unpleasant and you had to stand in long lines for the experience. The joy on the faces of those campers kept me going as we walked through unsavory neighborhoods, as my mouth became parched, as my energy flagged and through the disappointment of discovering we hadn’t even reached the halfway mark yet!
That kept me going – along with my determination to finish – peer pressure, not giving in to “old age” and all that. “No one has ever quit on us,” the Team Lifeline organizers prodded. We certainly couldn’t be the first. So my daughter and I kept plodding along (my son ran so he was way ahead and missed our scintillating conversation as well as our moans and groans of discomfort). We walked and we walked and we walked.
We talked until we ran out of conversation. We tried listening to the conversations around us but from the topics discussed, it was clear they had run out of conversation also! We laughed and we walked. We almost cried and we walked. Until we stumbled across the finish line and received our medals (everyone’s a winner here!), a snack – and the satisfaction of having accomplished our goal – we walked the walk and we raised significant money for a worthwhile cause (thanks to all our sponsors!).
There was a post-race victory party but we were just too tired. The marathon was officially 13.1 miles but with the walk to the starting point and the walk back to our hotel we figure it was about 15 total. And despite my daily treadmill activity, I wasn’t prepared. We inhaled our dinner (no exaggeration) and crashed in our beds.
It doesn’t sound like it but I recommend the experience to everyone – a good cause, a good effort, good camaraderie and the satisfaction of a job well done (or at least, done).