Cheese Bling! I ran a marathon this weekend! Yup. My little legs went twenty-six point two miles. I have been training for this for the past 18 weeks, and have run hundreds of miles of preparation for this event. The marathon I ran was the Kenosha Marathon. I had everything planned for the event: what I would wear, what gear I would bring, what time I would leave to ensure enough parking. I took my amitriptyline (migraine prevention) and zyrtec (dust mite allergy) earlier than usual so that I would fall asleep earlier in an effort to get plenty of sleep and get up at 5am! But as the kids say, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, Gang aft agley.” Some mixture of stress, anticipation and I think my barista’s inability to remember than I said “decaf” lead to me being wide awake until 3:30am. A solid 1.5 hours of sleep later, the alarm went off and I was good to go.
The marathon started at 7:00am, and I set off in freezing cold weather. After about 3 miles the bones in my feet were aching. I don’t know if it was because I was simply exhausted or because the entire race was on paved roads, my least favorite form of running, but it continued until the end of the race. By about mile 10 I was mentally done. I wasn’t even halfway done, I was exhausted, my feet were aching, and I was reasonably close to the start line; it would have been easier to walk back than to run the rest of the race. Miles 16 through 19 were probably the worst. My pace started out at below 10 min/mile, and was now dropping to 11+ minutes. Thanks to the layout of the course, I wasn’t actually that far from the finish-line during these miles, so my options were to run for another 8 miles, or walk the one or two miles back to my car; a strategy my brain reminded me of continually. I stopped to drink water, and I stopped to use the potty, but other than that, I ran the entire thing.
It was really hard not to give into the desire to walk, especially given the fact that everyone around me was taking walking breaks. But I had promised myself that I was here to run – RUN – a marathon, and as grueling as it was turning out to be, I wasn’t going to half-ass it. Doing that would simply put me back at square one, and I spent most of miles 10 through 19 promising myself that I was never doing this again so this one had to count. I received a couple of supportive messages from my TeamDDP friends which I read numerous times when the urge to quit was at its peak. I also reminded myself that my friend, Robert, has helped design a tattoo I plan to put over an old one, and it would be a letdown to let his efforts go to waste. I also visualized how great it would be to finally put the 26.2 sticker I bought from Cafe Press on my car. Sadly, none of these thoughts lasted very long, so the bulk of my time was spent thinking, “I don’t want to be doing this.”
Once I hit mile 20, I was able to convince myself to ignore the first digit of every mile marker and pretend that I was just out for a 6-mile run. The sight of the 26th mile marker rivals the first time I saw my daughter for the most glorious sight I have ever seen. Once I rounded the final corner, I decided to sprint, and I punched it so fast through the finish line that I overtook four runners and my husband missed me passing him. I remember that the song, “Falling” by Haim was playing as I crossed the finish line. Finding the strength to sprint through the finish-line in spite of the exhaustion and pain I was feeling is one of the most empowering experiences I have ever felt in my life. I spent the drive home and the time it took to eat lunch promising myself that I was never, ever doing that again, and reminding myself that I needed to downgrade my registration for the Prarie State marathon in October to a half-marathon. I managed to ignore the pain in my feet enough to crash for a couple of hours, falling asleep to the inner monologue of, “I am never doing that again.” Despite all the pain and negativity I experienced during the run, after a few hours of sleep and a good meal, I started looking up shorter marathon training plans. I was inspired by an old friend from secondary school saying that he’ll never do one again, but hopes that I stick with it. I also started thinking that the Prairie State marathon is in much nicer settings, along trails I like to run, so I should consider doing one that I had a better chance of enjoying. It would be a pity to leave off on such a negative note. Besides, I it’s almost six months away which is plenty of time to work on my pace. By then time I went to bed that night, it was decided that I would do the full marathon in October. And that’s why runner’s are crazy! In the end, I have come to the conclusion that while it wasn’t fun, it was satisfying. And I proved that I have gone from begin someone who couldn’t run a yard after a full night’s sleep, to being someone who can dig deep and gut it out for twenty six miles after virtually no sleep. And I am someone who’s earned a kickass tattoo*!
* I have to wait until next week to get it, I am running a Tough Mudder on Saturday, and it’s not a great idea to jump into dirty water with new ink! And running a Tough Mudder a week after a marathon? That’s DDP Yoga strong!