Great Wall of China Marathon

Why can’t every day be like a marathon day? The camaraderie and support among runners is simply overwhelming. It always profoundly touches me.
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On May 20th, I ran the most grueling marathon I have ever run – 5,164 steps on The Great Wall of China.  Temperatures hit 100 degrees with the sun beating down. I struggled, I cried, I didn’t think I’d finish. But thanks to Kymian, Lisa, Jodie, Amanda, Soren, the anonymous runner who gave me salt tablets, and the dozen others who pushed me and believed in me, I crossed that finish line! My time was 8 hours, 19 minutes and 53 seconds – only 7 seconds to spare before the cut off time. It isn’t a time you think I’d be proud of, but I think it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever accomplished.
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It was my 16th marathon since I started run2buildschools almost three years ago, and my 6th marathon this year.  Asia was also my 4th continent in my journey for 7marathons on 7continents. To my wonderful donors, you are AMAZING! We raised almost $2000 for kids and schools. I am humbled by your continuous support and generosity. Senegal school is next!
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Thank you my fellow runners, medical staff, marathon organizers, and all the local villagers for helping me get to the finish line. You shared with me your food, your water, you held my hand and pulled me off the ground; you were all my heroes that day. ❤
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Last but not least, thank you Mom for your daily texts of encouragement and love. This is for you, Mom. Today is your birthday – Happy Birthday to you!!! La Multi Ani, Mami! ❤
I LOVE YOU with all my heart. You are my sweet little sunshine.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0060.JPGThe Great Wall – one of the mankind’s greatest monuments!
It is more than 2,300 years old and it has a length of almost 5,500 miles.

KymianandI_BLOG_16My dear friend, Kymian and I.
Two days before the marathon, we had an “inspection day” – all runners had the opportunity of exploring parts of the wall before the marathon. It really helped to be out there and see what to expect.
Not easy at all!

WallMajestic

Breathtaking! ❤
SteepWall_1Look how steep parts of the course were! It was dangerous too.
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SteepWall_2This was on the “inspection day” – 2 days before the marathon.
During the marathon, I actually fell around this area. My foot slipped. So thankful I didn’t break my foot. I just hurt my knees but I was still able to run.

RunningClothes_BLOG_15.jpgMy running outfit 🙂 My donors are always in my heart and on my shirt whatever race I run. I love my donors 🙂

BandSinging_BLOG_33Early morning before the start, band singing the Jingle Bells song for us 🙂

NZRunners from New Zealand performing the Haka. It was awesome!

StartHappy_Blog_8With my dear friends, Kymian and Paul. Congratulations Kymian for finishing the fun run and Paul for finishing the marathon! And thank you from the bottom of my heart for waiting for me until I finished.

Start3-2-1 – START! Months of training and it all came down to this moment.

GW_Marathon_Blog_1I love this picture!

GreatWall_BLOG_31Stairs are hard but running on stairs is brutal.

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Great_Wall_SmileLook at all those stairs!

GW_Marathon_Blog_10I tried to smile every time I saw a photographer. 🙂 But after a while even smiling felt hard.

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GW_Marathon_Blog_3The pain and agony were so real and deep. I really suffered at points.

GW_Marathon_Blog_5To go up the stairs I used my hands as well. But the stairs were so hot and my hands were burning. I used bottles of water and that really helped. I also used the bottles as “hiking” poles. I tried everything.

GW_Marathon_Blog_12Haha, my face! The nausea and vomiting feeling really kicked my butt.

GreatWall_VillageWe ran few miles through a little village as well.  It was so emotional at points. Many local villagers and adorable children were out cheering for us. My phone broke during the marathon and I lost pictures of the children. 😦

GW_Marathon_Blog_7I fought so hard to cross that line. Thank you so much Soren (in the background) for running last few yards with me. So sweet. I am grateful.

GW_Marathon_Blog_6I DID IT!

Finish_Blog_5I felt so many emotions. I honestly couldn’t believe that I made it on time.
7 seconds before the cut off time. Crazy!

Finish_BLOG_14I felt like hugging everyone and letting my emotions pour.

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Hero1_Blog_12Lisa and Kymian waiting for me. Lisa helped me at mile 10, gave me water and talked to me. ❤

GW_Marathon_Blog_11Haha, my smile is so forced here. I was in so much pain. My leg was bleeding a bit as well and I was feeling exhausted but I still posed with my medal in front of the finish line!

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And then I went to the medical station.

Medical_BLOG_18I am so thankful to the medical staff for taking such good care of all of us. Thank you Kymian for being such a wonderful and caring friend. You helped me so much. I could feel your were worried and stressed for me.  ❤

Medical_Blog_12Feeling better here and it hit me again that I finished The Great Wall Marathon.

Amanda_Blog_10I saw Amanda, a sweet runner I met during the marathon. I was so HAPPY to see her. We both struggled together at points.

FinishHappy_Blog_7Kymian, Paul and I – all reunited at the end! ❤

SandraMedal_Blog_1This whole experience left me feel like a champion and it positively changed my life!

Dinner_BLOG_22After the marathon, we had our party celebration. All runners got together and celebrated our achievements.

DinnerParty_BLOG_29Yay!! Congratulations to us all!

DinnerParty_BLOG_39I love this. Cheers to friendship and running!

KymianandI_Dinner_BLOG_30I love my dear friend, Kymian. Traveling and experiencing this amazing adventure with you was one of the best highlights of my journey. Thank you for your support and friendship. ❤

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I LOVE Run2BuildSchools! It’s changed my life in so many wonderful ways.
My 7marathons on 7continents journey continues – next continent: Antarctica!!!

I also have 4 more marathons left for this year, more money to raise for kids and schools.
I am so grateful for all the help, love and support. ❤

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