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Happy surprises

I am a person who likes surprises.

Check that.

I am a person who likes happy surprises. I need to be more specific to the universe on that one otherwise surprises show up on my doorstep dripping with drama and possible angst.

So in the spirit of asking for what I want, the mental note about happy surprises went out to the universe (and up on Facebook) and yesterday FedEx showed up at my front door.

Slightly concerned I had ordered something off QVC at 4 a.m. without thinking about it, I opened the package.

It was a bag of personalized M&Ms.

They were pink and purple with the words "Go Amy" and "Run Fast" stamped on them.

It was a gift from my oldest and dearest friend, Amy, who recently ran her first Boston Marathon.

Chocolate and encouragement showed up on my doorstep.

How cool is that?

And it reminded me just what a bunch of amazing friends I have as this journey to the marathon start line begins to really hit crunch time.

It was after my long, hard run when I fell apart that I had a text message conversation with Sue. I thanked her profusely for being there for me, for bucking me up and inching me through the mental and physical anguish.

She replied that it was nothing. That I would have made it just fine without her.

And, to a large extent, she's right.

I would have made it in large part because I inherited my grandmother's stubbornness. But I would not have made it through nearly as intact without her help and support.

On race day, no one will run the 26.2 miles for me. No one has done my training for me. It is ultimately all me -- a fact that is simultaneously gratifying and terrifying.

But I didn't get here all alone.

I had a cast of characters supporting me and while I'm excited about crossing the finish line, the memories of training for my first marathon will be made up of the times I shared with my friends both old and new.

There were the emails and phone calls with Amy. There were the runs with Karyn and Jessica which were more about group therapy then about actual training. There were those early winter morning runs when Sue and John would try not to laugh as icicles formed in my hair. There was coffee with Sarah. There was the long distance encouragement from friends like Carolyn and Scott who never failed to leave positive messages on days when doubt had a stranglehold on my thoughts. There was the patience of Mary who coached me through some trying times, even as I would spin my wheels in neutral for weeks on end.

The list is nearly endless. And if I had allowed myself to think about it, that kind of support, sharing and encouragement has been available to me always.

We just don't always recognize it. Nor do we always think we have "earned" it.

But as I bring myself across the finish line on Sunday, I will be grateful for it. Because they were the part of the journey that makes it so memorable.

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