19 October 2013
Third Marathon is the Charm!
I finished my third marathon a few hours ago, but I'm still riding this effervescent adrenaline wave of giddiness and relief. I must channel this somehow. Why not in a blog post?
This week, well for months really, I have been filled with overwhelming dread for this day. The pain of my last marathon was just so fresh in my mind and I wasn't prepared, mentally or physically, to do it all over again. But this stupid sense of pride. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but it just wouldn't let me NOT run this final marathon. As much as I really just didn't want to do it. Yesterday the anxiety set in hard and I would randomly burst into tears at the thought of running another 26.2 miles. My poor husband kept trying to convince me to just not to do it. Thank goodness my cousin Eden was running with me and giving me that extra sense of commitment. Otherwise...I just might have forgotten the whole thing.
I slept terribly last night. I went to bed early, but the fear and doubt and anxiety was overwhelming. My stomach churned all night. I fitfully dreamed about missing the bus or going to the wrong place or forgetting all of my running gear. I even dreamed that Leah Remini peed on me. Huh?!
I got up with my alarm at 5 am and dressed with MANY layers for a very cool October morning. I had laid all my stuff out the night before, so I grabbed it along with my customary piece of wheat toast (this time I skipped the peanut butter and went with just honey) and a cheese stick (this is new...but it just sounded like a good idea to me). NO APPLES this time!! I learned my lesson last time. In fact...I may never be able to eat another apple in this lifetime.
I drove to the finish line where we were to park and meet the buses. My cousin, Eden, was already there waiting. We haven't seen each other in years and years, but have both found a great love for running and the natural therapy that comes with it in our later years (if you can count your 30s as your "later years"). It was high time we reunited over a race. She has been having some rotten hip issues that have frustrated her training and races. I've been having some rotten attitude issues that frustrated me. We had both at different points all but backed out on the whole deal, but somehow this morning we found ourselves sitting together on a cold, dark, yellow school bus. At least we are in this together.
The bus took us and the fellow racers (only about 275) to Copperton where we waited for about 45 minutes for start time. We chatted and waited in line for the port-a-potties with chattering teeth; whether it was from cold or fear...I'm not sure. At 7:30 am the race began.
Eden has been following the long distance running methods of Jeff Galloway. He promotes using timed walk breaks between timed running intervals to endure through an entire marathon. I had read his book a long time ago and thought I was somewhat following his advice by running about 4 miles and walking a quarter mile, but that method just wasn't getting me through my last two marathons very smoothly. I would do really well with that for the first half and then things would eventually get more and more ugly until the whole thing was a bust and I was doing whatever I could to get through those last several miles. In my first marathon, I hit "the wall" around mile 16. During my second, I made it a little longer, but hit at mile 19. I figured my method wasn't working. Why not try this one? So we did one minute intervals. One minute running. One minute walking. One minute running. One minute walking...so on and so forth.
It was weird to start by running one minute and then suddenly stop and walk while every single runner cruised past us. Soon we found ourselves at the very back, but easing into the rhythm of it. I went into this run knowing we were going to be doing this and honestly, I worried it would drive me nuts, but I very quickly grew to love it. It was slow progress, but it was comfortable progress. Since we were very last we often had a police escort. It was a little disconcerting to have a police car with its lights flashing driving slowly behind us, but I tried to not let it phase me.
We hit mile 5, along with a loooong hill, and Eden was struggling with hip pain and fatigue. I shared some of my anti-fatigue capsules (from Hammer) with her and within a couple of miles she was feeling much better. (Anti-fatigues come through again!) The miles passed as we caught up on with each others' lives and families. I truly enjoyed catching up with my cousin who I haven't seen in so long. Her company was invaluable to me and made the time whiz by. She kept urging me to go on without her if I wanted, but I had no desire to move on. That would just be boring!
It was a little deflating to be dead last for the first half of the race, but I tried to have faith in Galloway. But being last means you've lost the pack and since the course wasn't marked extremely well we got a little lost at mile 10. We went straight when we should have turned left. Fortunately we caught the mistake before we went terribly far and ended up running an extra 0.4 miles to get back on track. We had a good laugh about it and applauded ourselves for running a 26.6 mile race instead of the usual 26.2. Because we're so awesome like that.
I felt really great for the first half. By mile 13.1 I began to feel some soreness setting in, but nothing out of the usual. The aid stations were laid out well and the volunteer support was definitely appreciated. The miles continued to go on by.
Around mile 17 we passed the Oquirrh LDS Temple. It was gorgeous as always! And really all the scenery was gorgeous. We got to watch the sun rise and look at beautiful mountains and fall trees for 26.2--ahem! Make that 26.6 miles! What's not to love? The weather was perfect. Nippy, but great for a good race.
My stomach and feet started to complain a bit after mile 20, but nothing unmanageable. Absolutely nothing like my second marathon had been. Around mile 23 I had to sit down to get a rock out of my sock. Several blisters were forming on my toes, but again...nothing I couldn't handle.
I waited for the wall to hit, for the emotion and despair to come pouring in, but it never did. The miles passed by and we kept our one minute interval rhythm going. We passed a few people. Not as many as we would have liked, but it was a moral boost to not be DEAD last. And then before long, we were just about to the finish line.
Up to this point the race support had been pretty fantastic. Police had stopped traffic and waved us through every single traffic light. I felt like such a celebrity! But much of the course, especially at the end was poorly marked. We were rather confused the last bit of the race just where we were supposed to go to get to the finish line. And no one was really being very helpful. I guess this is what happens when you're one of the last ones.
Crossing the finish line was VERY anti-climatic. No crowds to cheer us on. No race support. In fact we had to walk around to find the lady who was holding the medals and ask for ours. I was not impressed with that part of the race and was feeling a bit jaded. But oh well! There was definitely that sense of pride I found in my self for finishing yet another 26.2 mile race!! And so much relief that running for 2013 is over. At least obligatory training running.
I was very happy that it was over, that I had braved the fear and doubt and pain to conquer that last marathon. I think the regret I would have felt in NOT doing it would have been terrible. It really was a great race! It was my longest race time wise (probably somewhere around 5 hours and 45 minutes) but it was also by far my most comfortable one. I finished with a smile on my face. Well, I think there was a smile somewhere behind the confusion and disappointment with the lack of a hero's welcome at the finish line. But I felt like a hero for myself. My husband and kids weren't at the finish line this time since I had needed to take our one and only vehicle to get there in the early morning, but honestly, I was glad they weren't there. This one was just for me. A personal victory to be savored internally and quietly.
Three marathons in 5 months!!! I did it! I'm so glad I did it! And even more glad it's done!! I'm sore, but I'm feeling pretty good. There really is something to the Galloway method. I'm a fan! And I'm so grateful for my cousin running with me! Her company was appreciated and it was a great to have our atypical family reunion. Definitely something I would want to repeat with her and some of our other cousins. Now I'm not saying I want to do any more FULL marathons, but halves...definitely. In fact, let's just not talk about fulls anytime soon.
After bidding Eden adieu, I drove home and prided myself on not crying during a race (for once!), but then my sweet 7 year old daughter handed me this:
Oh my. It has been a most excellent day. And now...we eat chocolate! Lots and lots of chocolate!