I may have high-fived a hundred hands for the first 20 km of the Boston Marathon, which was probably not the smartest thing to do. But I couldn’t help it. Each hand was attached to a face that was happy to be in the sunshine and watching people push a limit of endurance that was insane. I passed crazy guys holding beer, cigarettes and pizza with a sign that read: “You know you want them” – I was tempted. “Boston Strong” and cheers of encouragement were coming at me and all the excitement made me forget what I needed to do.
But the up and down of never-ending hills was taking its toll. My feet and toes (once again I won’t be wearing sandals for months) were vibrating, and my body felt empty, void of fuel. I was bonking. I never knew what ‘bonking’ was until I felt that drained desperate moment of weakness.
I hadn’t brought enough fuel. My Power Gel chews were all gone and now I had to wait. I hoped the Power Gel station was coming up soon. Early on along the route, families were handing out water, twizzlers, and gummie bears – I was feeling invincible so I didn’t bother taking anything. But now past the 30 km mark, my head was fogging and my will was waning. We were running through the town of Newton and I knew the ‘hill’ was coming up.
Then I saw him.
He was a man with a friendly face offering a partially peeled, half banana. I looked him in the eyes and he seemed to be telling me: “I know what you’re going through – take the banana, you’ll need it.” I think I said thanks, as I grabbed the banana like a ravenous monkey. The first bite made me see the universe in a new light. Its creamy richness was moist and easy to swallow. I was ready to keep going. I dropped a piece of peel on the road and worried that someone would “step on it and go for a ride.”
It was the most delicious banana I have ever eaten. I will always remember that man in Newton who handed the banana to me.
I took that hill with my head up and shoulders back (with small steps). I swore most of the way up. It was mean and messy, but I knew I had enough to carry me across the finish line.
And I did.