The Goal: Finish a full marathon in under 5 hours.
If someone had told me 2 1/2 years ago when I took my first little jog around the block that in that amount of time I would complete a marathon, I would have thought they were off their rocker.
How/why did I decide to attempt 26.2? Because I read that stupid book again. You know the one. It makes you think that your body was born to run and that ultra marathons sound fun and if they can do it, so can I...yep. That one.
2 1/2 years later I am struggling to process and articulate all that I have learned on this amazing journey but I'll give a try anyway.
The first thing I did was to ask God if this was a worthy goal to pursue at this time in my life. The answer I got was...Sure! If that's what you would like to experience!
Oh, for crying out loud. Well...alright then. I better find a training schedule and figure out how to do this.
So I bought a big calendar, had Q help me fill in the months/miles of training and I hung it in the hallway for everyone to see what I would be doing that day. The best surprise ever came when my sister Bethany told me she had signed up for the St George Marathon set to run the week after mine! Woohoo! A virtual training partner!
As the days turned into months and I ripped off pages of the training calendar, THE DAY got closer and closer, the miles got longer and longer and the performance anxiety grew bigger and bigger. I had counted on this goal being a huge physical challenge, but I hadn't even considered the mental and emotional walls that would have to be dealt with, some of which are highlighted in my previous post. I learned that this anxiety was common when training but it didn't make it any easier to deal with. Here is an example of all the questions:
Am I running enough miles?
Wearing the right shoes? the right socks?
Eating the right food? at the right time?
Drinking at the right time? enough?
Why does my leg/butt/ankle/head/shoulder/back/knee/foot/toe hurt?
I didn't know my elbows could sweat so much.
Am I wearing the right socks/shorts/shirt/bra/underwear/hat/watch/hydration belt?
How should I cross train? I don't have a bike. I don't have a pool.
Should I run hills today? or hike?
What is speed work?
Should I go alone tonight or find a buddy?
Should I take my phone or leave it in the car? Where in the world should I stash my keys?
Should I carry mace or a baseball bat?
Do I want to live in fear? or confidence by listening to the Spirit?
Should I rest my injured hamstring or keep training? Will some KT tape help? compression shorts?
Should I get some Physical Therapy?
Did the Physical Therapist actually just call me an "ATHLETE"?!?! :)
I've heard of GU, but where do I find it? How do I use it? When and how much?
Am I stretching enough or doing the right kind?
What did I eat/do that made me feel so crappy? so GOOD?!!
This tapering feels weird, too easy! Shouldn't I still be running more!?!
But through all the months of training, I had support and reassurance from many sources, especially my own family who tirelessly and CHEERFULLY dropped me off or picked me up for a run often at the last minute. Also my parents and siblings were a huge support, especially my sister Bethany as my virtual training partner with our Monday phone call asking each other how far did you run, what did you eat and how did you feel. And finally those who went on those tough, long runs with me - Tristan, Nicole, Mike, Cindy and Dorene. You ROCK. The kind words of encouragement, the time spent and the miles laid down will never be forgotten. It seemed like just when paralyzing doubt would creep in and threaten the most, one of you would step in and run with me, my sis would call or one of my girls or Rob would tell me how proud of me they were.
Some lessons learned while training:
I still hate bananas.
McDonald's surprisingly has really good oatmeal.
During the previous 42 years of my life I haven't liked oatmeal but I got pretty sick of whole wheat bagels and peanut butter/almond butter as a pre-run fuel, so I gave it a try. YUM:)
Compression socks and KT tape have just as much psychological value as physical value. And they come in really cool colors.
Don't "carb load" the night before a long run. Do it the night before the night before.
I hate running on the road. It's slanted...and there are lots of cars.
Anyone who passed me on the road or trail going faster than me just made me assume they weren't going as far:)
Getting up in the wee hours of the morning to "get my miles in" was indescribably tough...and lonely sometimes...and nerve racking...and some days, absolutely blissful.
Some lessons learned on Race Day:
Hydrate or die.
Or at least get really sick and feel like if you bounce at all or move too fast you will lose your lunch. But that was after 19 really great miles:)
Be willing to adjust my expectations to my circumstances. As I watched my "under 5 hours" goal slip quietly out of reach, I realized that I didn't give so much as a big hoo-hah about it and I just hoped to be vertical rather than horizontal while crossing the finish line and be able to smile and remember "the moment".
There are truly angels among us (seen and unseen). I sat by several on the bus ride up to the starting line and one of them offered to be my "pacer". He stuck with me, made me laugh, distracted me for miles with stories, not only waited for me at the aid stations, but CAME BACK up the road to make sure I was okay and still on my feet while he offered endless words of encouragement. And then! I see my very own cheering crew as I round the corner somewhere in the 21st mile and gain Aaron as a fresh-footed pacer to bring me home to the finish.
Life lessons? Sure. A whole long list of them.
But they are all ones that we have heard before.
Endure to the end. Your family will be there.
Enjoy the journey. There are angels and beautiful scenery along the way.
Go big or go home.
Kick some asphalt.
Don't JUDGE. Especially all the people you see that come in different sizes, shapes, colors and AGES because for all you know, they could have just finished running a marathon! I saw them all do it!
So - remember all those questions?
Did running the race answer any of them? A few.
But, as Bethany and I had a fabulous de-briefing/ sister talk session after her race, we laughingly realized that there are far more questions that were raised rather than answered.
Will I ever run another marathon? Knowing what I know now, that is a very good question :)