Second: This post itself is like a marathon (or to quote Emilie "an endurance event for your eyeballs.") If I stuck with it, so can you.
Let me start by saying I lost my voice late Friday night and by Saturday morning what remained was a squeaky version of my voice, punctuated with periods of silence when no sound passed my lips when my brain had intended for words to emerge. Seems some irritation and phlegm had moved into my throat making if difficult for sound to get out. While I can say I did actually feel fine, I was in an active state of denial about how these unwanted visitors had moved into my lungs and did not seem interested in immediate (i.e. pre-marathon) evacuation.
Regardless, childless and ready 30 minutes ahead of schedule, we drove to marathon city. Sandi did so many really wonderful things for me (like buying me a BEAUTIFUL tanzanite and diamond ring to celebrate my marathon) and writing with shoe polish again on the van. It made me happy the whole way.
Once in Burlington all the runners, plus spouses, significant others and cheerleaders (thanks Matt, Ange and Hannah)-15 in all-ate a super yummy meal at Flatbread, walked around town and down to the starting line so we could visualize it and then back to our hotels with a plan for the morning and hopeful for sleep. I was buzzing with excitement, very light on the nerves and slept a solid 8 hours.
I got everything ready to go before bed. I went over the course again and jotted down the hills and the miles of each of the four loops so I could write them on my arm in the morning with the intention of keeping perspective and staying on top of my mental race.
It was Emilie's brilliant idea (and labor) to put our names on shirts. More on that later.
Fully charged ipod strapped to my arm, Camelbak at the ready, my trusty peanut butter and banana sandwich to try to swallow in bits with my excited belly, sneakers laced I was ready to go meet my girls and head to the start.
Emilie and I talk a little strategy in the hotel lobby.
Here we are ready to go. From the left: Susan, Emilie, Jen, Amy, Christine, and me. The shirts (lucky green) were Christine's brilliant idea. Turns out is was really handy for our cheerleaders to spot us in the crowd this way.
Naturally, about 3,600 other runners had the same idea. Thankfully there were a LOT of porta-potties. Hundreds of nervous runners = hundreds of nervous pee-ers.
Honestly, I couldn't have felt better in my head or my body as I waited to get in the starting line.
I was literally about to come unglued with excitement and anticipation. I had spent so long visualizing this moment, this victorious moment of running- not walking like the other marathons I have done- but being out there with REAL RUNNERS, among them, one of them. I had no choice but to put my arms in the air as this glorious feeling surged through me. (Plus they were blaring inspiring music and the whole thing gave me this over-the-top feeling of joy.)
The first 3 plus miles were all through town on spectator-lined streets-people shouting, waving flags, slinging cowbells. I saw a man dressed in nothing but a speedo (banana hammock style) playing the accordion, a male cross-dresser decked out in patriot garb,
drummers, little kids with hands stuck out for high fives, and an energy and intensity that could light up the eastern seaboard.
As I have remarked many times, distance running is incredibly mental- sometimes so that I think the mental muscles need more training than the physical ones. There are many, many things I have learned to do to combat mental demons that can interfere with running success: breaking down long runs into several short runs, running with friends, relaxing and calming myself down when I think about how far I'm actually running. For the week before the race, I very consciously reduced my stress level, slept more, ate well, hydrated, worked less, packed early, essentially spent a week mentally preparing for Sunday. I intentionally skipped the Expo Saturday in favor of a short nap. I was stacking the cards in my favor, filling up my tank, improving my odds of a great run.
I reminded myself over and over that I would need at least 6-8 miles to warm-up and feel capable of running a marathon and that I should under no circumstance panic if I felt out of sync with my body. Knowing that I take this long to get going, to "hit my stride" when Emilie asked me if I could commit to running the first 9 miles with her until she was to meet Sam (he was to run 9-15 with her) it made natural sense. What a great way to warm into the race. A race plan. I'm a girl who loves a good plan.
Then, just as she seemed to be turning the corner and we were climbing the annoying long, sunny, steamy hill at mile 8, I felt that something was wrong. I reached down and patted my bum (no, not to spank myself) and with a feeling of serious dread realized my continuous glucose monitoring sensor had come loose. As in not attached. As in, no longer working. As in my life line cut off.
Amy, mile 9, looking strong and happy.
And the one her kids helped her make...
And, of course, Sandi who said, "I've had to learn to be a cheerleader for this." You did a stellar job, baby.
Did I mention I was also attempting the impossible trying to keep my mental race going strong despite my body failing?
She ran up the whole hill with me. I think this is me trying not to cry.
Mile 20: desperate to see my people. I launched myself into Sandi's arms and heaved a few sobs. I told them if I could pick up my pace I could still finish in under 5 hours (which had been my seemingly very attainable goal). Matt said: "Don't worry about the time. You just finish. You got this."
Now, this part of the story is not for the faint hearted....
Christine, coming in and meeting her hopeful time of under 5 hours, with her husband Keith who also ran the marathon after having ruptured his achillies tendon last April. Good job Kendalls!
And these are the beautiful women who run with me. I do love them so.
I have to end with this photo. This is me. This is why I do it. I love to work hard. I love to feel the thrill of life surging through me. I wrote "limitless" on my arm because that is what I want to be. I want to set my sights and go for it. I want to defy the limits I place on myself. I want to always do more than I ever thought possible. I want to thrive in this place of going beyond.
And...didn't you see it coming? I'm already trying to figure out where my next marathon will be...Any ideas?