Getting a little more JOLLY, a little more GREEN, and a little less GIANT.

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 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:

And this is why I do this. Sure, I love the bling and the personal victory and the bragging rights of being a marathoner. But being able to show my kids that they can do hard things no matter how old or young or big or little or weak or strong they are; that they can go out and do amazing things with their lives; that they can BE their own inspiration and BE amazing... That's why I do it. And I think they're getting the message.

Oh my. It has been a most excellent day. And now...we eat chocolate! Lots and lots of chocolate!

04 October 2013

Following in Mama's Footsteps - My Kids Run their First 5K!

This last weekend I saw a dream of mine come true in real life. My two oldest children, known as "Dee" and "Jeigh" (pronounced "Jay") in the blogworld, ran their very first 5K!!!

I can't even tell you how proud I am of them for so many reasons. The first being that I couldn't work up the nerve to run MY first 5K until I was 28 and a half years old. And even then I was so scared that I was in fretful tears as we pulled into the parking lot. I begged my husband to just take me back home. I'm glad he ignored me because that 5K was an invaluable life experience for me. And although it took me another two years to work up the nerve and stamina to run another race, it was my first scary stepping stone into the running world; a world I have grown to love with all my heart.

I was a big baby about my first 5K, but my babies were fearless for theirs. After I finished my first Color Me Rad 5K last year and they saw how much fun it was they wanted in on the next one so I promised them we would do one together. The color runs are so relaxed and fun I figured my kids could handle it. But even still, I was nervous. 5K is 3.2 miles. A lot of adults can't do that distance. How would my 7 and 8 year old do? Especially with no more training than walking to and from school about half a mile each way every day. That and just the rigors of being active kids.

I shouldn't have even worried. I totally underestimated them. They did marvelously!

They loved going to packet pickup, something they've been dragged to a couple of times now for myself. This time it was for them! Kids were able to race free, so I only had to pay for my registration. Unfortunately it didn't end up being totally cheap. Dee wanted every single accessory they were selling at packet pickup and he sure knew how to play his mom who wanted to make sure his first race experience was positive as possible. We ended up purchasing a race packet for each of the kids for only $15 each. It included a T-shirt, a racing bib of their own (SUPER glad I did this! It made finding post-race pics of them easier. Plus, it made the experience that much more real for them!), non-permanent tattoos, sunglasses, and a bracelet. We purchased a couple of packets of colored powder too (something I wouldn't have done in hindsight since they were throwing out oodles of them at the start and finish lines.)
The next morning, race day, was chilly so I dressed them in sweatshirts with their white T-shirts on top. We got to the starting line with plenty of time to spare. Jeigh was eating up the energy of the crowd and music. Both of them were excited with the entire event and kept saying "I'm so glad we're doing this! This is so much fun! This is so cool!" I kept my fingers crossed that they would keep saying the same things at mile 2 or 3.

We used the bathrooms, did a little crowd Zumba, and waited at the starting line, soaking up the experience. The atmosphere of the Color Me Rad runs are awesome. Lots of loud music and good energy. Everyone's thrilled to be there. There are people of every size and shape, age and physical ability. Lots of bright colors everywhere. Just a lot of good, family-friendly fun.


And then we were off!

In less than a mile, Jeigh was too warm and wanted to lose her sweatshirt. We ducked behind a tree and switched her out. Much better. Shortly after that, Dee realized his shoes were too small and were making running difficult. I kept trying to convince him to just take them off and run in his socks. He kept saying "No! I don't want to be like Camille!" His aunt Camille, who finished her full marathon in only socks. I think he was making some sort of connection between "lose the shoes" and "run 26.2. miles".

The kids ran for quite a bit of the first mile. We did a lot of walking too. I would say it was about half and half. Jeigh was dedicated. Her face was stoic and focused every time we started running. Dee was a lot more relaxed about it, soaking in all the sights and sounds of the race.

There was a bit of whining, especially from Dee. He had to be convinced a couple of times that this was "fun" and that it was almost over. I don't think his shoes were helping him at all. I finally convinced him to ditch the shoes around mile 2. I carried him on my back for a bit to give his feet a break, but jogging with a 60 pound eight year old on your back who is spilling water all over you isn't that much fun.  I set him down and he did much better in his socks. Jeigh didn't like the powder getting in her mouth and choking her. She was kind of split on how "fun" the powder was once she started breathing it in.

I didn't mind the powder so much until I stopped just outside the Orange Color Station to take out my phone and record the kids going through. Someone at this station was aiming to kill. While I was recording, a big handful of orange powder was slammed straight into my face, going down my throat, in my eyes, up my nose. Ugh! It was terrible! I was spitting orange for the rest of the race. All part of the hazards of a color run, eh?

At one point I turned around to look at the kids and I saw a dad, pushing a stroller, hit a bump in the pavement and went crashing over and on top of the stroller, crushing his child underneath. It looked awful! I felt so bad, but we were ahead of him and I could already see tons of people gathering around. There wasn't much we could do, but hope it wasn't nearly as bad as it looked. Yikes!

For all the mishaps, we still managed to have a great time and make it to the finish with smiles on our freshly colored faces! The kids were so proud of themselves for finishing! And I was proud of them! They did it!! They did something that many adults can't or won't do. The pride has lasted for several days. I haven't heard a single "I want to do that again!" but I do keep hearing how much fun they had and that they can't believe they finished it.

Getting clean after a color run is the best! Look at that filthy water!!

I know it was just a dinky little 5K color run, but this was such a great way to share something I love with the people I love. It was such a fantastic experience and probably more fun than any race I've done alone. It made my mother's heart happy to see two pairs of little running shoes next to my size 12s and to watch my children following--literally--in my footsteps.

I don't know if they've caught the running bug, but it hardly matters. What matters is that they know they can do hard things, no matter how young or old or small or big they are. I hope they are learning to endure, to have hope in the joy and the relief of the finish line. And simply that running and being active is FUN! Proud, happy mom over here!!