Monday, October 28, 2013

The Marathon...

Yesterday I completed one of the things I have always wanted to complete. I ran a marathon. It was harder than just about anything I have ever done. It took just about everything in me to finish.

I started training this summer. Using the Hanson method of training which involves longer runs throughout the week. I ran just about six days every week. I actually loved it. I love running. It makes me weird, but it is what I would prefer to do any day. So this seemed like the perfect training for me. By the end of September I had not missed a day of training. I had even gone further than I usually was supposed to. I would think at the end of eight miles, I feel good, I can run one or two more. And I would. Ten miles was a "normal" run for me. I could do it without any trouble. I ran sixteen miles a couple of times and felt good. Then I thought, I should run a twenty miler. The Hanson method tops out at sixteen miles. The point of the training is you are always running on tired legs. And this would prepare me for a race like this. But psychologically I thought, I need to run twenty. That day was a rough day. I ran only 17.8 before my body just gave up. I was so discouraged and worried. I was in pain. I lost all my confidence in my ability to run. But I told myself, I did the training. I should be able to do this. Stick with the training. My friend encouraged me, that I had picked this training for a reason, so to trust that it would prepare me. And my runs after that slowly started to improve again. I started feeling really good again during the runs. Again, running longer than I had originally planned on most runs. My last ten miler the week before the race flew by. I felt like the miles were just ticking off. Miles 6-10 felt like maybe one. And I thought, I am ready for this!

Then the week leading up to the race, we started getting sick. My kids had colds, but nothing bad. Thursday, it hit me. Sinus pressure, aches, sore throat, and I started panicking. There was no way I could get sick right now! I started to do EVERYTHING I could to get healthy. I was drinking massive amounts of "Emergen-C," lemon water, apple cider vinegar water, spraying "thieves" oil, using saline spray, drinking tea and MASSIVE amounts of water. It was working, I did not get much worse. And by Sunday morning, the day of the race, I was feeling okay. I could feel a little bit of a cough, which as a person with asthma makes me a bit nervous, but I was going to be okay. I slept well the night before, and got up ready to run. Even though I felt like throwing up from nerves, I felt ready. I was SO thankful Nathan could be there with me. There were these amazing girls and lots of awesome friends that watched my children and helped juggle soccer games and birthday parties so we could go, and our kids could still do things here. They did a great job, and allowed Nathan and I to go to St. Louis together.

It was FREEZING cold to start the race, right around 33 degrees. Which is perfect when you are running, not when you are waiting to run. I had one friend there running too, but we were planning to just run on our own and meet up afterwards, so I did not see her before the race started. I started out okay, but feeling SO tired, and by mile four I felt like my legs just did not want to run. I was so discouraged. At mile twelve I thought maybe I had missed the turn off for the full marathon, and was running the half marathon race instead, and I kind of secretly hoped it was true, because I could not imagine running that far again and still some. But there was the turn off right after mile twelve. And I turned off, to finish this race I had started. I was running between a nine and a half and a ten and a half mile pace, which was my goal, to stay slow so I could finish. But mile thirteen felt like mile seventeen of that run I had a few weeks ago. Mile fifteen I stopped and took off my shoe to fix my sock, that was causing a blister to form on my foot, a blister that would only get worse over the next ELEVEN miles!!! This was when I saw my friend pass me. I got my shoe back on and tried to catch up, but my foot just stopped working. I had surgery to repair a tendon after falling down stairs just about two years ago, and sometimes, it still hurts, a lot. And at mile fifteen I was limping. Tears were stinging my eyes and I wanted to quit. I thought of all the reasons I should quit. I was limping. My lungs were burning, it hurt to take a deep breath. I needed my inhaler. I had passed Nathan with it just two miles ago, I did not know if I would see him again before the finish. I was walking with tears just burning my eyes. I was psyching myself out. I did not want to run anymore. I wanted to go home and quit and not have to talk to anyone again. I knew people would be gracious. And I could explain how bad my foot hurt and my lungs were struggling for air. BUT I also knew, I had four kids at home, four kids who believed their mom could run a marathon. I knew I had signed up for this race to raise money to bring my fifth child home. I knew that I had trained for this and it was supposed to be hard. I also knew that if I did not finish this, I would have to do it again. I had always wanted to run a marathon, and if I did not do this one, I would have to do it again. So, I walked for awhile. Thankful for all the people out there who where t-shirts with the verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strenghthens me." And I talked to God about getting my foot to carry me on now the next ten miles. And I started to run again. It was slow and  not consistent, but I was moving ahead again. With purpose, to finish this race. And when I walked it was a fast walk, not an "I give up" walk, it was the walk that let my lungs breathe. And then I saw Nathan and I yelled, "Get my inhaler!" I took a couple of puffs at mile 22. And said "See you at the finish!" I was going to do this. I finished, running my last mile at my ten minute pace.
(Mile 22)

(finishing the race)

I hurt like crazy, my foot got wrapped in layers of ice and I walked the half mile to the hotel without a shoe, with a foot wrapped in ice. I showered and we walked a block to eat, then took a cab back to where our car was. It was only two miles, but at that point, I could not walk two more miles. We then drove five hours home. Which may not be the best thing to do after you run. The whole way back, all I could think was how I can be better prepared for next time....I am a runner. I love running, pain and all!
(Medal, ice pack and all)


  1. fOh Heather --- I FEEL your pain. It sounds like my first marathon! All I could think of the entire time I read this is "oh, I wish I could've been there with you." Next time - you and me!