"The Day After" by Hunter Squires

July 9, 2000, and I can still walk after completing the Grandfather Mountain Marathon. It was quite possibly, the hardest thing I have ever done. I have never felt such a relief to hear those bagpipes playing and to make that final lap around the track, yet today, I am feel a bit sad that the race is over. What a mix a emotions. That being said, the day of the race was perfect for running. It was nice and cool yesterday morning, and my nerves where racing, because this would be my first marathon. Many people that I talked with asked, "why would you run the Grandfather Marathon for your first?" The only response that I can think of is this, all the others are bound to be a bit easier. The first 5 or 6 miles are a breeze. Then you start climbing. Your legs are still fresh early on so you can get through the first several climbs without much of a problem. I think I started to hit my first wall, yes I said first because there where several, around mile 16. You can't possible imagine the length and grade of some of these hills. My legs felt like I had rocks in my shoes. Then, there are some nice hills to head down, but then you realize that you have to earn all those feet in elevation back, so it's not quite as enjoyable as you might think. My next wall came around mile 19 or so. The only thing that kept me going were the wonderful volunteers at the water stations and some very serious words with my innerself. The water stations in the last stages of the race where situated perfectly (miles 21,23,25). The Aloha station and the Stayin Alive station really helped to give me a boost, and the thought that there were only a few more miles. As I neared the finish, I saw the sign to Grandfather Mountain that read 2 miles. I kept thinking to myself, did that say 2 more miles or 20. Man that was a long two mile stretch. Then, I started to hear those wonderful bagpipes. I turned into the field and all the runners that had finished and the crowd started cheering. Man what a wonderful feeling. I headed into the stadium thankful that my days of running where over, and I realized I had to make another lap around the track. As I circled, in front of the thousand of spectators, I put on a big smile and ran (I guess you could call it running, maybe a slow limp would be better) to the finish. At that point, I received my precious medal and did everything I could to walk of the track respectfully. Minutes after I finished the race, my wife asked me if I would run another marathon. My first reaction was noway, but after much fluid, food and a good nights rest, I would have to say absolutely. I look forward to next year when I can see all of those wonderful volunteers, the amazing people that ran the marathon with me, and climbing some more of those tremendous hills. If anyone is running the Atlanta marathon in November, I will see you there. After all, marathons are like Lays potato chips, I bet you can't just have one. Thanks again to all the people that organized, volunteered and sponsered the race. It was truly first class.