When I look back at my first post I remember how scary it was for me to commit to this. What would the outcome be? Would I meet my goal? Would I be able to keep up with the training? Would I actually be able to run a marathon? So many voices running through my head until I made that final decision to take a deep breath and go for it. Trust and obey.
October 17, 2010
A beautiful, albeit cold, fall morning in Lowell, Massachusetts. Not sure how many runners were there, but it sure felt like a lot. I could feel the energy in the air even before I parked. Runners with 26+ on their license plates proudly displaying their commitment to the sport. The experienced standing out in their high tech gear and confident strut. The organizers want you there early to get everyone parked and time to settle in. You spend the morning stretching and checking out the competition inside the heated Tsongas arena. My stomach was still doing flips and I visited the ladies room quit a few times that morning. At 7:45 a massive crowd started to moved towards the start line. There were two. One for the half and one for the full. They put us in shoots similar to what cattle run through to get into a corral.
Placement in line is crucial for me for a good start. Too close to the front and I'll go out too fast and fade quickly. Too far back and its very frustrating waiting to actually start running. I listened to the surrounding conversation to figure it out.
"Do you see the pace group for 3:40?" Not there.
"I'm trying to qualify for Boston. I'm running another marathon in three weeks just in case." Nope, not there.
" Which way should we face?" Ahhhh, perfect. :-)
And then two really cool things happened.
First, my friend called me to find out where I was so she could see me. She had brought her daughter and signs to see me off!!! Perfect timing because I was feeling very lonely at the time as lots of runners seemed to know the person they were standing next to. And I knew no-one. Tears started running as soon as I saw them , but it was so good to be able to let go of some of the emotion that I had pent up. Just being on that starting line was emotional. ( Should also note that sadly unknown to me my husband and kids were just a little further up ahead ready to cheer, but we missed each other). Thank you honey, for the effort it took to get four kids out of bed early on a Sunday morning to support me!!!! And thank you, Laurae for being there!
Secondly, the sound system stopped working and for some reason they were unable to play the National Anthem to start us off. How unpatriotic. We all were feeling kinda gypped, but then slowly you could hear it. Are they? Yep. Someone had started singing it and as it moved through the crowd more people joined and soon all the runners were singing the National Anthem. GOOSEBUMPS!!!!!! Nothing like singing the same amazing song with a few thousand other people to make you feel a little less alone and a lot more bonded to the people next to you. Now, thats the way to start to a sporting event!
And then we were off. I really don't remember hearing the gun go off, but eventually people were moving and so was I. Waved to my friend and her daughter, wiped the tears that were still falling and took a deep breath.
Went by really quickly. I noticed that my calves were unusually tight.
Calves still tight. Started taking in the different people who were running. All shapes and sizes. It really makes you question what "being fit" looks like.
Wow is it cold!
Why are my calves still tight?
People are finally starting to spread out. No more tripping on each other or trying to devise a "safe route" to go around. Find a trio setting a good solid pace and I run directly behind them. Our steps are in sync and although it doesn't last long it felt good.
Calves still unbelievably tight. Really looking forward to seeing my family at mile 7. Feeling lonely and starting to get scared that this was an absurd idea. Wanting to walk and realizing that that isn't a good sign. Have to pee.
Really have to pee. There is a line outside a port a potty and since I'm not actually in this to win it I figure I can afford to wait in line to pee. Very discouraging to watch people pass and I wonder if I'll ever catch up again. I let go of my "pace group" and get in line. I text Todd to make sure he is somewhere in the next mile. He is.
Saw my family:-). Got hugs, kisses, " Go Mama", and a banana. Not hungry, but I eat it and walk.
Tyngsboro bridge area. I make myself run again. Put my gloves back on and wonder when my calves are gonna get loose.
Feels really long. Doubt creeps in again. The road is flat, the river is pretty. Trying to get in the zone.Listen to my music I tell myself. ( I actually talked quite a bit out loud during this time.) No-one wants to talk. Everyone seems to be struggling already.
Over a microphone you hear " Move to the right, here come the finishers". Just what I need. To be lapped. We, the struggling, clap and give'em a " Great job". They don't respond. They can't. They're in their zone and they won't share it. I notice they all have sneakers with green on the bottom. Hmmmm.
Another bridge. Starting to loop around now. I feel a tremendous burst of energy and am finally able to lengthen my stride. At last! This is gonna turn out good after all, I think. Knowing my family is at mile 14, I keep going. Yes! There they are. Thank you. I stop to walk, drink, eat, and breathe. I start thinking about how far I still have to go. Ugh. the doubt again. I force myself to run.
Another friend found me and stopped to cheer! You have no idea of encouraging it is. I'm still battling with my calves and the stiffness seems to be climbing up the back of my legs. Why? This has never been a problem for me before. I start to cry. Why is it so hard? I've done at least this much before. Lets go body.
A man passing out Gu looked at me and said " You look Maavalous" Haha! I didn't, but I could've hugged him.
The battle is on. People are few and far between. I'm left with the strugglers. We are all struggling. There are no more crowds to cheer us on. They have moved on to the finish. I know I will see my family at mile 21 and I can walk then. But I can't make it 'til then. I walk. I run. I walk. I cry.
I stop to take a picture and put it on Facebook, of course. I hope that getting to this point will cheer me up. My body is not tired, it just hurts. 6.2 miles left. Best case scenario an hour, but I know deep down it will be longer.
More hugs, more kisses, more " Go mamas". I walk and drink. I want to stay with them, but they wave goodbye.
I start bargaining with myself. " Just get to mile 22, then walk" But I can't. Why? Starting to be with the same people now. The same backs stopping and going. I pass them, they they pass me. Its our own weird game. " Oh, your gonna run now? Well , then so am I!"
So many doubting voices fill my head. I know people are praying, but still I start wondering if maybe I'm not meant to finish this. I keep saying " If God brought me to this..... but, maybe God never meant I was to finish it...."
A man is stopped in the middle of the lane clutching in left quad. As I go by I ask if he is ok ( stupid really), "Ya." He says through gritted teeth.
I really don't care how few miles I have left. My brain starts to win. I walk. I hurt. I cry. I realize my time. And then.......
I am so gonna end this. Enough is enough. Lets go legs. We run by a soccer stadium playing "Waving Flags" . " When I get older, I will be stronger...." I wanna wave my arms in the air and look at " pink shirt" on my left. She is not sharing the moment. Too bad. I think of encouraging things, like being done.
I moved my legs. I ran over the last bridge straight into waiting friends screaming my name, I ran around La Lecheur Park, I ran into it and then because their are very cruel people in this world I ran all the way around the park and then finally under the finish banner. I did it. I ran a marathon. I cried.
I was afraid to try. I was afraid to fail. I would have lost so much if I would have listened to those voices. I learned so many lessons.
This has been quite the journey. Thank you all for taking it with me. Supporting me. Most importantly for supporting the children and the country that I love. Thank you.
If you talked to me on Sunday I would have said "Never! Never again!"
Today, now that I can walk again almost completly without pain, I am considering it. I must be nuts!