... and then there's that.

October 9, 2005.

Ever since that date, I've been living in the After. The day before, a Saturday to be exact, I was Krista. The day after, a Monday, I was Krista - but this time with a little more "oomph." But what happened Sunday, and who was I then?

On Sunday, Oct. 9, I ran the Chicago Marathon. And before I go any further, let me tell you something - 26.2 miles is really far. And on that day, there's no way I could have been Krista, because let me tell you something else - Krista is kind of a wimp. But during that four hours and 45 minutes I was a warrior, and that is what changed me.

I've read somewhere that the first 20 miles of a marathon are physical, and the last six are mental. Well, no, let me dispell that rumor. I spent four months training for those 26 (point two) miles, and every last day was mental. But I ran it. It's over. And I've been left a changed person.

Every day leading up to Oct. 9, I dreamt of the After. "Oh my gosh," I'd tell my friends and family, "in (X amount) of days, this will be over." Even in taking those first strides of the marathon, I thought to myself, "by 1 o'clock, this will be over." And it was. And it is. But that afternoon, as sore muscles dibilitated me, I felt a loss. The After wasn't what I thought it was going to be. It was over.

I ran a marathon. How many people can say that? What does it make me? Am I a runner? Am I crazy? Am I a marathon-ee? Or am I just someone who wanted something, worked for it, and lived to tell about it After?

I miss training. I miss the long runs in the summer heat. I miss worrying about it. I miss dreaming about the After with my marathon partner-in-crime. I miss feeling the burn in my legs. I miss waking up at 5:30 a.m. for a run and wishing I never registered for the marathon. I miss icing my sore joints. I miss buying new Asics. I miss promising Mom I'd never run again when it was over. I miss Gatorade. And Gu. And drinking too much water. I miss before.

So here I am, After. I proved one thing to myself: that I could run a marathon. Before, I couldn't. But now I feel more of the things I tucked away Before: confidence, pain, pride.

I may not run a marathon again. But at least I can say "again." You can only say "again," After.