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Cue the theme song from Chariots of Fire and break out the ice packs because I finally got a sub-five hour marathon finish.

Hal-le-freaking-luia.

My finishing time was a joy-inducing 4:53:17, shaving twenty-seven minutes off last year and a full hour and six minutes off my first marathon time.  If this keeps up, someday I’ll be able to finish the night before the marathon even starts.  What???  It’s called MATH, people.

PLUS, I was totally sane the whole time. I only cried twice — once when a woman stepped out in the street at mile 23, took my hand and said, “This is it. This is your defining moment.” (which, really, is an awful lot of pressure for someone who is just trying to stay upright) and once again, right after I crossed the finish line. The rest of the time I just tried to take it in, enjoy myself and, following the advice of Dean Karnazes, ultra marathon darling, concentrate on making this step be my best one. And this one. And this one.

This year I was lucky enough to have company and started with my friend, Erin, who was running her first marathon. Look at us, all smiley and optimistic;

.
 Because all marathons seem like a good idea at the starting gate. 
It was a freezing cold and sunny morning, which is my kind of perfect weather. I wore all the exact right gear (shocking) brought enough gels and had an amazingly consistent pace throughout, losing a mere 6 minutes in the second half.  My only regret was not having some snazzy ipod/phone/camera to document the great sights along the way. Mainly, the evil trio of spectators at mile 18. Picture this; 
     You have been running, now, for a little more than three hours. This is starting to seem like the worst idea you have ever had and you are beginning to remember just why it was you swore to never, ever do this again. You round a gentle curve and spy three men, in full Chicago Bears regalia holding up these signs;
  1. You are only running away from your problems.
  2. I know just how you feel. I ran a 5k last year.
  3. Free beer for quitters.

So. Evil. I must have laughed for a quarter mile.

If I could just encase this whole experience in amber, I would. There are precious few events in my life where I look back and am absolutely, 100% satisfied with my performance.  Mostly, I’ve held a running litany in my head of all the mistakes I’ve made while trying to accomplish x, y or z. 
Not this time. 
A 4:53:17 finish means I am clearly not the fastest girl on the block. But it is also the result of my very best effort. I am Linus’ mythical pumpkin patch. I am the sincerest pumpkin patch of a runner and I am left feeling very peaceful and content.  Quite the change from last year.
Today I got up, hardly sore at all, considering. I had briefly held the intention of jumping on the treadmill for a slow jog, in honor of the aforementioned Karnazes, who topped off his 50 marathon/50 day challenge by walking out the door of his NYC hotel and running…to Missouri.  
That idea went right out the window when I spotted its one flaw; I am not Dean Karnazes.
Dean Karnazes is a world renown ultra marathoner, who recharges his spirit with solitary, triple-digit mile runs. 
Melanie Danke is a middle aged mother of five, whose recovery is best served by the glorious trinity of an hour long massage, a day spent in yoga pants and a giant avocado/tomato sandwich.
It’s not quite as impressive, but its how we pumpkins roll.
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The Rise & Fall of a Momocracy

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