We were the walking dead. Casualties fell all around, claimed by cramped hamstrings, bulging calves, or just the overwhelming exhaustion that you'd just endured something far greater than you'd ever imagined. When I started to try and think about it then, my face contorted in that involuntary way that one gets when biting into a lemon or drinking too strong whisky. I fought back the tears as long as I could. They didn't fall for any reason. Just one of those things. Then I saw them. First my dad, then my father-in-law, and finally my wife. Then there was no holding back. I fell into their arms. Couldn't keep my fingers from digging into my hips to relieve the ache, the soreness, the tightness that just wouldn't subside.
Before he dashed off to get a cab, my father-in-law asked, "Would you do it again next year?"
"Hell no," I said. "F-no. I'm done."
But as I felt life returning, the memories, not two hours old, started to fade. The agony maybe not so bad. My heart mending itself after the top of Mile 21. The Citgo sign perhaps not as far away as it seemed. That jacket, the one with the yellow unicorn, sliding on over my shoulders felt pretty damn good, even if it was a touch warm to be wearing it. The airport terminal, watching others hobble around, exchanging the knowing nods of other soldiers returned from battle.
Perhaps it wasn't out of the question. Perhaps I could take what I learned having been through it once and really train for it for a whole year, and *gasp* do it "right." Whatever that means.
And so, there I found myself today, closing the door to my office for my "9:00 appointment." The one that had been on my calendar since the date and time of registration was announced. Fingers eagerly poised on the keys. When the hour turned over, I typed with great purpose, my hands working the keys like Ralph's fingers on the Little Orphan Annie decoder. The initial excitement came on as it had a year ago. But when I hit submit, the form refreshed...and cleared. It was worse than a crummy Ovaltine ad.
"Ok, be cool," I said. And did it again...only to get the same result. So I called my wife. Not at her desk. So I called my Mom. "I need a favor."
"It's not going to cost you anything."
"Ok, then, what is it?"
So we walked through the form...only to have it not work on her computer. I wouldn't call it panic, but it was pretty darn close. I took to the internet and found myself on the BAA Facebook page. They'd posted an announcement about registration opening. 108 comments followed, many expressing the same frustration -- and near panic -- I had. Someone though had gotten through. And they posted the url. I went to it, filled out the form, and FINALLY got to the entry confirmation page. Not a moment too soon as registration closed just eight hours and three minutes later.
I sat back in relief and then had the feeling I always get after signing up for a marathon: oh, shit...this is really happening.
I've got one more finish line to cross before turning my full attention to Boston, and that's the Army Ten Miler this Sunday. But, as I said, it's sort of all been about Boston since April 20.
Indeed, once more into the breach dear friends....