FINISH LINE CONTEST: I NEED YOUR VOTE!!

WOW, thank you so much to those that sent in your finish line photos.  They are all amazing and I absolutely loved reading them all (about 200 entries!!).  I can’t even tell you how many of them made me cry.  I narrowed it down to 15 for the contest today but I will be posting the others throughout the month because they are all so incredible.  You guys are truly amazing.  

Go ahead and vote for your favorite picture/story in the comments pretty please.  

Just vote by telling me which number is your favorite.  THANKS!!!

#1.  

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This was me and my little girl’s first ever 10 k race with the running stroller (she was 11 months old at the time).  The first 9 kilometers went by without a hitch, and, upon seeing the 9 kilometer marker I thought we were home free, but right as we passed it, Baby Girl announced that she wanted out.  She had had enough.  [My general rule of thumb for running with Baby Girl is that if and when she wants out, we stop.  She very, very rarely fusses in the stroller, so if she fusses, I know that she’s really had enough.]  And we’re a team, so we stopped.  I took her out of the stroller, and we walked and chatted the final kilometer to the finish line.  (A kind gentleman offered to run the stroller to the finish line for us while we walked, which I gladly accepted.)

In the end we still finished in less than an hour (our official finishing time was 58:19), but this race just reminded me again that running with my Girl is not about good finishing times or medals or winning.  It’s about spending time together, and having fun.  Both of us.  Right to the end.  And that’s exactly what we did that day.   
 
#2.

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This is the photo from my 2nd half marathon.  I ran my first one after I broke up with my boyfriend of 3 years and gained 20+ pounds and decided I needed to do something to turn my health around.  After that first one I was HOOKED.  So, 20 pounds less and two foot surgeries later, I was determined to run another one and get even faster.  My realistic goal was under 2:10 and my stretch goal was 2:08.  I rounded the corner towards the finish line and the clock said 2:04:16.  I was ectastic and could hear my family cheering me on towards a PR I never thought would happen!  Now I am training to run my next one in less than 2 hours.  I am never looking back to the old me..keep moving forward!

#3.

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This first one is from my first marathon. I ran a 3:09 first time. I cried tears of pure joy as I approached the finish. This is about 30 ft from the finish shoot. I had just gone through a deep postpartum depression a couple years prior and I just felt on top of the world. I came to know that I could do anything I put my mind to. I was weeping but smiling and yelling out loud “I did it. wooohooo”  -in this picture. :)

#4.

Nicole Finish Line Photo

This is a picture of me with my mom at the finish line of the Chicago Marathon (my first marathon) in 2009.  I started running after I became my mom’s primary caregiver when she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer because I knew I needed an outlet to deal with all of my stress and emotions in a healthy way.  Finishing the marathon was such a bittersweet moment because I finished the longest race I have ever run and worked so hard training for it and was so happy my mom could be there but unfortunately she lost her battle with brain cancer 2 months later.   
 
I still cherish that I was able to share that moment with her and am also so grateful I have running to get me through the hard times.  So while you never get another first marathon and I’ll never get another marathon finish line with my mom…so glad I have the pictures to remember that day!  
 
We can do hard things!  

#5.

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This is me running towards the finish at my first Ironman. Ironman Mont Tremblant in August 2012. The finish chute is so long and there are SO many people all screaming like you’re the winner. This is the moment I could hear the announcer saying “Mary Minutella from Windsor, Ontario. You. Are. An Ironman!” I trained for this race during one of the toughest years of my life – having separated from my husband, selling our home, etc. So much self doubt was put to rest that day. One of the hardest, most amazing days of my life and this was the the BEST part! I cry like a baby everytime I think about it.

#6.

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This came at the Fox Valley Marathon in St. Charles, IL in September of 2012, and will definitely be one I never forget.  It was my very first Boston Qualifying time, and it came in dramatic fashion.  About 10 feet from the finish line, my legs gave out, and I fell hard.  Honestly, it’s all kind of a blur to me now.  But my girlfriend (MARY!!!), who was at the finish line, explained to me that I managed to crawl the last few feet and get across the finish line.  After a short stint in the medical tent to treat the scrapes on my hands and knees, I went to the timing booth to get my official time.  Somehow, it was a 3:05:00, the exact time I needed as a 24-year-old guy.  It was easily one of the most exhausting days of my life, physically, and emotionally.
 
This experience has given me the confidence to push myself in the latter stages of races, and through difficult training runs. 

#7.

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This picture was from the finish of my first marathon in March 2013, with my best friend, Erin-Leigh.  I never wanted to do a marathon until she convinced me to do it with her.  We decided to fundraise for an amazing organization called She’s the First (shesthefirst.org) through our training and running our first marathon.  We raised over $9,000 in support of the education of 26 girls in Nepal through our race.  This picture reminds me to dream big.  It was a life changing experience. 

#8.

Dad and Kristen Crossing the Finish Line

On March 23, 2014 my dad ran his first half marathon and I was blessed to have run every step right next to him. My dad was with me when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis only 6 months prior. I’ll never forget that in the doctor’s office right after being told I had MS and all the physical and mental ways it would likely affect me, my dad told the doctor through a cracking voice and tears in his eyes, “We’re supposed to run a half marathon in March and we’re GOING to run that half marathon.” And we did :) We ran every step together. It was incredibly special and one of the best days of my life!

#9.

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This is from my first full marathon, May 2013 at the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. Somehow I managed to find the time to train alone, work full time with a 75 mile one-way commute, and be a sane single parent to a 3-yr-old, living with my parents. This face is the culmination of all the sacrifice, and mental and physical perseverance I’d accumulated since I found myself alone when my son was 6-months old.

#10.

Buffalo Creek Half Marathon

This is a photo from the finish of my very first half marathon (Buffalo Creek Half Marathon – October 2013).  I had only been running for a little over year at this point.  I went from being a completely sedentary obese person at the beginning of 2012, to a half marathon finisher and 80 lbs lighter by the end of 2013.  Needless to say, the finish of this race was very emotional for me.  I was about 100 feet from the finish when I saw a group of people from my running group who waited around to cheer me in.  That’s when I burst into my “ugly cry” you can see in the picture.  Even though it is probably one of the worst photos of me in existence it also is one of my favorites.  

#11.

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This is a picture from two years ago back in high school. Thats me on the left with my training partner/mini me on the right. We actually got in a lot of trouble for crossing the finish line together… but we pulled each other through the race taking turns encouraging each other to hang in there and it just seemed right. This race wasn’t a PR or anything but it reminds me the importance of teamwork in running.

#12.

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This was my very first 1/2 marathon (9-22-13).  I had just turned 50 a few weeks prior to the run.  Anyhow; this was just a BIG accomplishment for me.  I have never been a runner in my entire life.  I was diagnosed asthmatic at age 4 and have never been able to any kind of running.  That said – I started running about 11/2 years before I ran this race.  Early in 2013 I made up my mind to commit to doing a 1/2 by the time I was 50 (I was able to register for the race, but it happened shortly after I turned 50).  I did all of my training on my own (running by myself).  I had a great support group in my husband while doing longer runs..he would come out on the bike to bring me a little snack or drink of some type. Thank You David!  My kids were else great supporters – while not living near me they cheered hard.  And; on the day of the race I had my own little support group.  They came out on their bikes and showed up along the course every few miles.   My silent goal was to finish this race in 2 1/2 hours, and I DID IT!!   I finished in 2:22 and felt terrific during the entire race.  I have continued to run and will again run this 1/2 this coming September.  Every time I look at these pictures it brings tears to my eyes that I can actually run like this and will keep running like this!  I still have my runners high!!!

#13.

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My sister, Nikki, and I just crossed the finish line of the BAA Half Marathon in Boston in Oct. 2012. About 8 months before the race, we lost our mom to breast cancer. Neither of us were runners but decided to join to the Dana Farber Cancer Research team and train for this race, while raising money for a cause that means a lot to us. The race was hard, but remembering the strength our mom showed during her painful year-long battle with cancer pushed us to the finish line. We know she was watching over us the whole way, and was proud to see us do this for her!

#14.

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This was the Star Valley Half Marathon that took place on July 13, 2012. This was a very meaningful race because my mom had passed away three months prior and I was struggling with the loss, and the morning of the race I unexpectedly found out I was pregnant. I did not want to run, but my hubby pushed me to do it for my mom and little girl. It was very emotional to cross the finish line!

#15.

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I decided to run a series of 3 races the same year I lost 50 pounds. I had zero running experience and had no idea of what I was doing. My first 4 mile race I wore slip on tennis shoes. Let’s just say that was not a good idea since my feet were rubbed raw. The next race was a 3 mile and I still didn’t wear shoes that were roomy enough, so my toe nails hurt like crazy. The last race, a fun 4 mile Halloween race I figured out that I needed real running shoes and placed 1st in my age group. I came a long way from that middle aged woman who sat on the couch. I kept telling myself when I was running.. you can do this! I ran as hard as I could to the finish line and collapsed on the grass. 

  

VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE!!!  The winner gets a bunch of goodies that any runner would love!

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704 comments

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I can’t pick… They’re all so great. A tie between 1 & 4. 1 Because I’m a mama runner & can’t imagine the emotion & 4 because my grandfather fought cancer for 3 years and unfortunately he lost his battle.

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#8 such a touching story!

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#8 for sure! Amazing picture reflecting an amazing story of faith, love and courage.

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#6!

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#8 Keep your family and goals close to you always….

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All are incredibly inspiring and just make you want to run!! I vote for #5

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#6!!

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All so touching! I am gonna go with the one that made me cry the most: #4

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#10

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#8 amazing courage and determination!

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All of these stories are so inspiriring. Number 8 was amazing though.

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#8

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All so amazing, but – #3. That’s a great feeling!

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Love the picture and story behind #14!

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#1

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8

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#8!

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this is hard – #9 for me

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#8!!! :)

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#13… but they are all so good. Wow! Tears…

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#3!!!

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Kristen #8

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#4! So much inspiration. I love runners. :)

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So inspiring!! #13 but tough choice!

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ahhh, I love #1 AND #8, along with all of the others, but I would have to choose #8.

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#8!!!!!!!!!!!

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Oh man. I’m so amazed by many of these especially #6 and #4. Ultimately I will pick #4 but if you can count both please do!

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#3!

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Its a really hard pick but I am going to pick #4. I can totally relate to running being a major emotional outlet for me. Number #1’s story is adorable though and reminds me to consider what really matters, above PR’s and finding all the time I need to train!

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#10!

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So proud of all of the runners that have overcome obstacles to reach their running goals! Tough choice. #8

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I love them all, but the emotions and obstacles overcome to run that race really shine through in #10.

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Holy cry fest! Loved these but for some reason #1 was just so special

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Just makes you realize how much strength so many people gain from running, me included!!

#8 because I have a special bind with my dad. But there were tears reading all of them.

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#4!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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#4 What a special person caring for her mum when she had brain cancer. Being a primary carer of someone with a terminal illness is a huge sacrifice and I really hope she wins the goodies! She deserves them. Such a beautiful photo.

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Oh I just read #8 – this is cruel making us choose – but I’ll stick with my first vote of #4. Can’t they both win:-)

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#8
They all were moving stories and very sad loses but number 8 for e was the most inspiring. Well done to all of them fulfilling their dreams.

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So many of these are crazy emotional. I chose ALL OF them. But if I had to choose one, I choose #3. Postpartum depression is difficult and scary and a 3.09 is immense.

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#4!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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well, I cried like a baby for most of them, but I think my favorite is #3!

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#8!

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They are all incredible stories but my vote is for #9

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#5

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#4!!

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#8!!!

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ok – and now Im crying at work. Such great stories but my vote is for #14

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#6

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Only one??? ugh. Ok #8.

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#10

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All of these are inspiring stories! But for best finish line photo, I definitely have to go with #5!

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6 because he had to crawl over the finish line and he still got the time he needed. 15 because it is a true reflection of how unprepared we start out. My first races was not in running gear either so I identify with her and love that she triumphed to win her age group in her 3rd race. Great job!

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#11

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#8

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#3!!

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#8

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My vote is for #8!

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#9!

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#5- an ironman?!!! AH-MA-ZING.

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#4

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They are all fantastic and inspirational. My fave is #4.

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#6!!

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These are all so so uplifting and great! Loved number 9 and 8 (I’m cheating and picking 2!)

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#7

:)

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#4

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#8 my husbands mom has ms and that story truely touched me.

Heck half these stories made me want to tear up.

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#8 made me cry (thanks alot!) so that get’s my vote

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They are all amazing. I would pick #7

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#6!!

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6!

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8 or 4

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# 5
Ironman finishers…I cry everytime I watch one. The sheer determintaion that it takes and the obstacles that people are over coming are just so touching

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They are all great stories but I think #4… Awesome story!

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I love all of these stories!!! But I’m picking #1 because my daughter is also who I run for and there is nothing like finishing a race with your partner :)

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#4

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If I have to vote on one it is 4 (then 10, then 8).

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#5

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#10 :)

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8-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-8- we runners are a pretty stubborn group. Once we put our mind to something to do it. Father-daughter was not the exception

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It was a tough choice between #2 and #4. I got very emotional from both since I could relate to such emotional stories. Number 4 though would be my top choice!

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Definitely #5 IRONMAN

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#8 gets my vote!

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#8! I’m running my first marathon this year for the MS Society to support my dad and sister who were both diagnosed with MS.

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#4 – what a lovely story !!

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So hard to choose! They’re all amazing.

My vote is: #5. Pure triumph over life’s circumstances and an incredibly tough race!

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#10

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Every.single.one.

Great post, Janae. Thank you ALL for sharing!!

#1 hits my heart- I’ve had the same thing happen on a training run.. :)

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#4. I ran a 5k PR the night before my mom passed away from cancer. She was my biggest fan and I couldn’t wait to tell her.

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#10

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I can’t even imagine how hard it was for you to narrow it down to 15; I’m struggling to pick from this shortened list. All of them were so touching! But, since I have to, I’ll go with 8 and 10. Good luck choosing the winner!!

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#5 for sure!

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#10 – as many times as I can vote.

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#10! Makes me think of my dear running crew- they’re with me through thick and thin, the best friends EVER! And I found ggem trough running. A great blessing in my life.

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#8

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8, then 5

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