Saturday, March 8, 2008

My last marathon post, I promise

My mom and friends keep asking me what the marathon was like. I think I've been in partial denial mode so it's taken me a while to write about what it was truly like for me. I'll try to do that now.

The morning of the race, I was high on anxiety. I think if I were running the race for fun, it would have been different. Instead, I had in my head that I wanted a kickass finishing time, somewhere around 5 hours, give or take 15 minutes. Looking back, I really shouldn't have focused on this and instead should have just enjoyed the experience and had a goal to finish - much like Aline and Jessica. They seemed so low stress to me. I figured my body had been resting for almost a month. I was doing stretching and lifting weights, yoga, and my speed drills, etc. I was eating right.

Once we got through the long shuttle bus wait and finally arrived at the start location, I swear I was internally shaking. So nervous! There were tons of people. I was so happy that I had my girls Kim, Cat, Jessica, Aline and Andrea there. I get super needy in desperate situations.

We get to the starting crowds and all of us are getting emotional, wishing each other luck, hugging, telling each other I love you, all that mushy stuff. I guess nerves will do that even to cold hearted people like me. I felt so grateful to be there with them.

I knew in my head what I needed to do to finish this race strong:

- miles 1-10, run with my head - be careful not to let the adrenaline push me to go faster than my normal pace is, so as to avoid hitting the wall or burning out later on in the race when I would really need my conserved energy to carry me to the end.

- miles 10-20, run with my body. I knew from experience that this is the hardest leg of a long run. You aren't thinking of anything but the pain.

- miles 20-26.2, run with my heart. I knew at this point that it would just be by the grace of God that I'd finish the race, bc I had never gone that far in my life.

So, BOOM the gun goes off and we shuffle towards the start line. Again we're telling each other good luck and see you at the finish line!

Miles 1-15.
Easy peasy. Me and Andrea were cruising. It really helped to see our husbands at mile 10. We felt strong. We were actually on pace to finish a 4:30 marathon time. Holler.

It felt so good to have neighborhood people cheering us on. It was very humbling to see people clapping and screaming, offering us oranges, water, gatorade, pretzels. I was discriminating at this point and didn't want to take food from unauthorized station stops. I saw a sign that said "I'm alive because of YOU" by someone wearing a shirt for Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and I knew that what I was doing that day was bigger than just a race. Every time I saw a purple jersey for Team in Training, I'd pump my fist and yell "GO TEAM!"

Miles 16-19.
Ouch. Seriously. We knew at this point that it was not going to be easy anymore, and we also knew we wouldn't be having a sub-5 hour marathon time. That was fine with me because I was irritable as a mofo. It was hot and I was chafing for the first time all season. It really sucked and I could feel the friction under my arms and in my pants with every step I took. I looked over at my running partner Andrea and for the first time all season, she didn't look very happy either. Usually she'd be whistling at this point.

We saw 2 of our nesties around mile 18, insomniac and nessdog, YES! That really gave us a boost of energy and I almost cried that they came out to support us and even with fabbo signs! We also saw our husbands and I got so emotional that for the first time all season, my husband was actually displaying how proud he was of me.

Miles 20-25.
I just wanted to die. The length of time and distance between each mile banner seemed like forever. I couldn't remember the last time I felt so miserable. The only thing going through my head was how desperate I felt. Desperate to finish. Frustrated that my body couldn't move much faster than a turtle. Seriously. I started getting internally hostile at this point. Wishing ill on Kim for ever making me sign up for this marathon. Cursing myself for not training harder during the season. Just bummed. Andrea was struggling at this point too and we both just kind of stopped talking.

It seemed like almost 3 miles of this leg was on a bridge over what I think was the LA River. When I looked around everyone looked disgruntled, limping, at the side of the road laid out. I kept trying to play it off like I had to stretch every few minutes so I'd pull over, but really I felt like my body couldn't move forward anymore. There were points where I actually thought I would not finish this race, and it was breaking my heart.

My ankles felt like they were breaking with every step I took. I was pumping my arms 3x faster than my feet were moving. I felt like I weighed 500 pounds.

I kept trying to tell myself "this is NOTHING like the pain of chemotherapy or cancer treatment" and "this pain is nowhere near the pain of dying from cancer" - I can do this. I started thinking of WHY we even bothered to do this marathon - to raise money for Leukemia and blood cancers. I started picturing the children on our team fighting cancer, of Aline's dad, my BFF's dad, my uncle who died at 53, my aunt with brain cancer at 58, my other uncle who now has cancer. I was getting extremely emotional. And as I was thinking of them, my running became my personal tribute to the people that were battling a much harder race than I was. This lifted my spirits a little, and I started whispering to myself "I'm doing this for you" and "please God let me finish for them".

At this point, my warrior cheer of "GO TEAM!" turned into a faint chin nod and a pathetic "go tihh"

I cranked up the volume on the 3 songs I had been listening to since about mile 16 or so: Whitney Houston's One Moment in Time and 2 different versions of My Redeemer Lives. Hey, it works for me.

Mile 25 to the finish line.
I saw the 25 mile banner and I wanted to celebrate already! It was all downhill from here. I looked over at Andrea and she too was still chugging along. The energy around us was insane, people screaming, cheering. Looking around, people were getting their second, third, fourth wind. I was too.

At mile 26 I just started crying and breathing really hard and I crunched it! I wanted to finish strong and not walk to the finish line. I heard "DIAAAAAANE!!!" and looked to my left and saw my OC Nestie girls Kate, Claire, Kim, Ashley, Jen, Mboc, and even hubbos Tim and Jon! They were going crazy and it was infectious! The signs and the screaming, I was just crying at this point but I don't think I had the strength to even release any tears. Or, it could have been dehydration too. Oy. They gave me the energy to run even faster!

Then I go a few more yards what the hell, I see the LA Nesties Wan, Amber, Wemo, Randie and they had these cheesy smiles on their faces and went nuts screaming my name again and shaking their signs. I could have collapsed right there bc I was so exhausted but seeing them drove me even faster!

Here we go, home stretch. I can SEE the finish line and I am just praying that I don't have a freak accident before I reach it. I look over and Andrea looked so determined too. Literally 0.1 miles from the finish, I look over and see my husband and Chris and from there, it was a blur.

I did it. I crossed the finish line. I couldn't believe it. It was a high like you wouldn't believe. My body was tired and drained, but my heart was smiling. This was the most physically enduring thing I had ever done in my life, and I was done. I wanted to lay down, but we had to go through swarms of people just to get to a cleared area. Andrea and I still couldn't really talk and we found our way to massage tables and literally hijacked 2 beds to lie in. I didn't care that the blankets were damp and gross, I just needed to lie down.

I finally made it back to our friends to watch for our other teammates. I saw Kim, smiling and chugging along - weeee! Cat came in a little while later and I was getting excited to see our other 2 girls finish. And there they were! Aline was crying at this point and I was screaming Jessssss and Aliiiiiine!!! Crying and smiling, they were almost done! It felt so good to know that we all finished without injuries!

I am so proud of myself, of my girls. I am so touched that people, like my friend Jamie, came out to support us for something that was, at least for us, a very big deal. I know that what we experienced that day was a trying ordeal, but that we should be grateful that we had the good strength of body and spirit to finish it out. That our hearts carried us to the finish line. That we will never doubt what our bodies can do as long as we set our minds to it.

I don't see another marathon in my future, and I'm okay with that. But I do know that the memories I have from training and from this race will be something that I will never forget. I'm so grateful that I did it with a group of girls that I absolutely adore and love, and that we had the support of our friends and our families all the way to the end.

Congratulations girls, we did it! Goooo team!!

11 comments:

dapotato said...

thank you for sharing in detail. still so proud. :)

love the pic above and how sophie is disdainfully sniffing your fuggs (at least that's how i interpreted it).

Kate said...

I still can't believe you only listen to 3 songs....GO TEAM!

Leslie said...

Great post! I felt like I was there. You have a lot to be proud of. GO TEAM & congrats to you!

Jessica said...

Another good recap. I guess it's my turn now, huh?

WeezerMonkey said...

LMFAO at "go tihh."
:)

ssinca said...

I got teary-eyed reading the recap! I wish I could have been there in person to cheer you on, but I promise I was there in spirit. ;)

amber said...

i really enjoy all these detailed recaps of what it was like to actually run the race. i'm so proud of you and everything you've accomplished! :)

BriannaNichole said...

I totally got a teary when you wrote about the shirt 'I am alive because of you'. WOW Then I got chills when you talked about the last mile.

Aline said...

I'm sooo glad you wrote this D.

All I can say is thank you for writing those 26 reasons and allowing me to add my 0.2.

=)

We did it!

R said...

I love the first hand accounts of that experience. So awesome.

"One moment in time..." ;)

wan-nabe said...

i'm so late, but man, was it exciting to watch you run past us. even weeks later, i'm still so proud of you!