Sunday morning I woke up at 5:15am, drank my coffee and water, ate my oatmeal and banana, got dressed, walked around to get the jitters out, and out the door we went.
On the way to my husband and kids dropping me off, I realized my headphones didn’t work. I immediately panicked! This was not good as I was running the Twin Cities Marathon alone and really wanted them…especially during the last half of the race. Nothing’s open, the traffic is horrible and now I’m a crab.
Negative talk crept in…’You are tired, you didn’t rest well, and now this. Good luck!’
When Steve dropped me off, I got in line of the port a potty, which is 15 people deep, and realized it’s 7:49, and the race starts at 8:00. I was in corral three, so I knew I had some time, but this put me in a place I didn’t want to be in. While waiting in line, I knew I had to turn my attitude around or this was going to be a LONG 26.2 miles, especially mentally. So I repeated some of my mantras, and took care of business.
I made my way through the crowd, looking for the 4:30 pacer. My first goal was to finish, my second was to finish in a time of 4:30. This pace group was no where in site, so I took a deep breathe, said a prayer and waited for the start horn.
I crossed the start line at 8:15 with thousands of other runners. I took me about 8 miles to find my “place” in this race. There were so many runners, and as I weaved in and out, I took the time to smile and wave at both people running and those cheering.
I was determined to turn this into the experience that I worked so hard for the past 22 weeks.
Steve and the kids found me at mile 6…with headphones. I stopped to get them connected, start my music, say some ‘I love yous’ and off I went.
I was feeling good. I had my music on quietly so I could enjoy the crowd support. I did my best to not miss one high-five, especially from the kiddos. I kept thinking how amazing it was for them to be out there in this wind and rain; they were truly there for us, and I made sure to appreciate that.
I was cruising along and decided I couldn’t “hold it” any longer. So, at mile 16 I stopped at the porta potties. The line was longer than I would have liked, mainly because I knew standing around would make starting harder, but when ya gotta go, ya gotta go!
As I made my way back to the race course, I was definitely feeling those 16 miles. I did some positive self talk; reminded myself that I trained my heart out for this, and it wasn’t suppose to be easy!
By mile 19 things started getting tough. My left knee and ankle were both starting to hurt, and this was not anything I experienced during my training. During the race, I had spent a majority of my time running on the right side of the road, and thought that may have been part of this issue. So, I went to left side, did some walking, and told myself that this pain is temporary; keeping moving.
By mile 21, the pain was more intense, it was poring rain, and decided that I was going to walk/run the rest of this race. I made myself a plan of running .4 and walking .1. I stuck to the that for the next 2 miles, but when I came upon mile 23, I had to walk A LOT! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but I did not let feeling stop me from moving forward. I knew those last three miles were going to take me a long time, but I WAS going to finish.
By the time I reached mile 25, the streets were lined with cheers and cowbells, and I reminded myself that these people stood around in this weather to cheer for all of us runners!
The last half mile was emotional. I ran the entire time, and fought back my tears. Some may not know, but three years ago, I had to drop out of this exact same race around the 20 mile mark due to some breathing issues. So, this finish line was something I envisioned and longed for more than I can describe. Lady Gaga’s, “You and I” came on and her lyrics were perfect, “It’s been a long time since I around. Been a long time but I’m back in town, and this time I’m not leaving without you!”
As I crossed that finish line, all of the pain was gone. Suddenly I felt empowered and accomplished. When the volunteer placed my 26.2 mile medal around my neck, she hugged me, and said, “You did it! Congratulations from the bottom of my heart.” She was placed at that spot, at that exact time, for a reason, and I will always remember those words.
Three years ago, I could have decided that was the end of my marathons days. But I knew it was circumstantial, and I deserved better. Sometimes we fail, but that doesn’t mean we are a failure, and I wanted to be that example for myself and my children.