Carpenter: Tears of joy from start to finish

Walla Walla's Michelle Carpenter (front) after completing the Boston Marathon on Monday.

Walla Walla's Michelle Carpenter (front) after completing the Boston Marathon on Monday. photo courtesy Skip Nichols

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Walla Walla's Michelle Carpenter (front) after completing the Boston Marathon on Monday.

There were tears of joy at the start.

There were tears of joy at the finish.

And there was a little bit of heat on Monday at the Boston Marathon.

But, we'll get to that in a bit.

I didn't sleep very much on Sunday night. I checked the clock hourly and yet, I felt peaceful. I was ready.

I followed my morning ritual for marathon day. Up early, bagel and gear check. I headed down to the lobby of our hotel where I met up with a large group that was heading to the bus loading zone. These guys were experts and very helpful. We got to our buses in the Boston Commons area.

By this time, it was evident that "throw away" clothes that we normally used to stay warm while waiting were not necessary. It was already 66 degrees. (For those of you who don't know, "throw away" clothes get donated, by the marathon, to charity.)

The buses drove us to the famous Hopkinton, aka Athletes Village. It was a great place to sit and hang out while waiting for my wave to start. There were thousands of people and I enjoyed visiting with so many of them.

After getting up at 5 a.m., riding the subway at 6 a.m., taking a bus at 7, and arriving at Hopkinton at 8, my 10:20 start time could not start soon enough. My legs were full of anticipation, my heart was racing with excitement and the crowd was full of energy from the very start!

Although we did a lot of walking the two days prior to the marathon, my injury felt remarkably "good." It was truly not even on my mind. I was ready to enjoy this moment.

They had already told all runners that today was not the day to go for a PR (personal record). In fact, because of the extreme heat warning, they offered a deferment of your place if you wanted to wait until next year.

Over 5,000 people decided not to run due to the dangerous conditions.

Having that warning almost freed my spirit. I threw time goals out the window and knew to just enjoy each step, take it all in and hang on for the ride.

And what a ride it was!

For literally 26.2 miles, the crowd was amazing! They certainly carried me along some tough moments with their enthusiasm. They talk directly to you as you go by. They want high fives, they offer snacks and some were even giving away kisses!

The fire departments along the route set up tents that we could run through and get showered with water. Incredible amounts of people had their yard hoses set up and sprayed us as we went by.

And even more people were camped on the side of the road with ice that they had bought, but were graciously giving to the runners as we went. Their generosity, caring and cheers were priceless.

I met tons of people during the run, too. Because paces were slow and walking through water stations was necessary, we had plenty of time to mingle.

By mile six, people were starting to drop like flies around me. It was not a pretty sight for the rest of the run.

Yes, the heat was taking its toll on us all, but everyone I talked to had the same theory as me. It was all about feeling lucky to be running the Boston Marathon, happy to feel healthy and soaking it all in.

As I came around Mile 25, I heard my name being yelled (in that cute Southern drawl) by my mom. The tears came rushing in. I was able to stop and hug and kiss my mom, my boys and my husband. I couldn't contain the tears.

I wish that I could adequately express the whole-hearted love and support that I have received from my husband, children and parents. None of this would have been possible without them. None of this would have been the same without them. They were with me every step of the way, selflessly giving of their hearts and souls to get me to this point.

I continued up the block and turned the corner. The finish line was in sight and it was beautiful. Running towards it was like a "Chariots of Fire" moment. Time was standing still. I couldn't take it all in fast enough.

And then I saw my dad sitting up on the media bridge of the finish line and that's when I knew I had really done it. Up went his camera. Up went his pumping fists and thumbs up.

WE had worked for this moment.

I had a grin a mile wide!

I felt complete satisfaction, contentment and peace crossing that finish line. Total joy.

It was a closing of a chapter for me and my family; adding another drop in the bucket.

It brings with it the excitement and anticipation of whatever comes next.

Triathlon anyone?

Other Local Boston Marathon Finishers

Ellen Camp, Jim Cornelison and Eric Jensen also completed the Boston Marathon on Monday.

Walla Walla's Camp and Cornelison finished 4,561 in 4:22:18 and 10,431 in 4:54:54, respectively.

Camp was running her third straight Boston Marathon, and Cornelison his third straight and fifth overall.

Athena's Jensen finished 4,822nd in 3:49:24.

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