In the books.

This picture sums up the Lakefront Marathon in so many ways. That's me, hands in the air, stupid grin on my face, coming in for one of the most genuine hugs you could ask for. Anne's about to get her hug, too. Our friends were along the course. So many friends. Amazing friends.

If 26.2 miles were a picture, it'd be this. I can't not smile while looking at this. And I can't not smile while thinking about the entire weekend.

If I could dedicate an entire post to Anne, I would. And in fact, I can, but we'd probably both just weep and giggle our way through the whole damn thing. I think this weekend we were each other's saving grace. She was my baby spoon, and I hers. And I realize that doesn't make any sense to any of you, but it does to us. She was my slumber party pal the night before the race, and I'm not lying even a little when I say we spent probably a total of five hours that day in the midst of giggle fits. I love her in the most real, honest-to-goodness way. And she knows it. I won't forget "our" marathon. Ever.

Rochelle, Tracey and Marty, the remaining trio of running loves, you three are phenomenal. So proud of what you accomplished yesterday. Just thinking of sweet, little Rochelle's tears of joy after her race gives me goosebumps. Tracey, you're an absolute machine. I had no doubt, even once, that you were going to hit your goal. Marty. Oh, Marty. Mr. Science McSpreadsheet. You blow my mind. And inspire. Thank you for that. I love you all.

I crossed the finish line yesterday in 4:34:24. That's not really significant in any way. It's no San Diego Rock N' Roll 3:58, but it's also no Nike Women's 4:49. I've hit every spectrum on race day. But I've never felt better than I did yesterday.

Anne and I had a goal: Enjoy. Smile. Inspire. We did that. We never had bigger bursts of joy and motivation as we did when we came across our friends, waving their hands in the air, cheering our names. I gave more hugs that day than I can count. (Chelsey, Amy, Sarah, Mosey, Kim, Cheryl, Tim, Jess, Clara & Bella, Alicia, Tony, Mike, Kelley, Rachel, Angie - ALL of you. Love.)

We slowed down when we wanted, sped up when we felt it, port-a-pottied when it struck us, walked if we needed. From miles 7 to 19 we were accompanied by a (new to me) friend, Howie, who served as our "butler" during his leg of the marathon relay. He saved us with encouragement, stories, chivalry and water. I'm more grateful to him than he probably realizes.

As the miles began to tack on, and we rounded the lakefront just a few miles from the finish, I felt it. Strong. I'd never felt that way three miles from the finish of a marathon. I didn't hit a wall. Even a little. My brain was doing cartwheels at the prospect of finishing a marathon without ever crashing. Feeling good, no less.

Anne encouraged me to push on. We'd each have our own minute in the spotlight of the finish line with our friends waving us home. At mile 24, with hesitation over leaving my baby spoon after all those miles, we hugged, said our "love yous" and I brought myself in to the finish.

I felt like I was flying. Though I didn't have my Garmin, I'm positive those last two miles were a sub-9 pace. I couldn't stop grinning. Even spectators noticed. "Look at that SMILE!" I couldn't see the smile, but I could feel it. It didn't leave my face for hours.

(There are more stories to come, and they will, but for now I'll bask in the glow of the memories.)