Guest Post: My mom’s marathon recap

Hello! It’s been awhile but I’ll have a life update for you tomorrow. Today, my mom is a guest to recap her marathon. Some quick facts before I get out of here: this was her first marathon, she ran it at the end of July in Idaho, and she’s awesome. Enjoy!

MARATHON RECAP

First Marathon Pre-Race:  What Was I Thinking

The 26.2 bus ride at 4:30 in the morning seems longer than I imagined knowing I will have to run the same distance in the opposite direction.  We arrive at the start with plenty of time among the small but experienced group of marathoners sharing strategies and pacing advice and plenty of time for me to question whether I had hydrated enough, fueled enough, stretched enough, trained enough…am I strong enough?  I don’t think of myself as an athlete because of a long history of getting picked last for school teams, but I can run (slowly) and set goals for myself and sometimes, meet those goals. I think about all the training miles of the last few months to keep the nerves at bay.  And then, finally, we start. So here I go it’s my shot, feet fail me not, this may be the only opportunity I got.  I quit worrying and remember what I love about running…settling in to my own rhythm, loving my music, watching the sun rise, feeling one step follow another, knowing I was going to do something hard but so worthwhile.

Miles 0-10:  The “I know I can do this” miles

The first 8 miles are downhill and not hard except for worrying about whether I am going easy enough on my joints and my prone-to-cramping calves.  I keep checking in with those aging hips and hard-working calves, giving them lots of mental praise and focus on keeping a nice, relaxed stride. When the big uphill section starts, I feel pretty good about the hill work I had done to prepare and keep a steady, although slow, pace up and down the rolling hills.  I hear my coach/daughter’s voice in my head…the marathon is a distance that demands your respect, and I remind myself to enjoy how strong my legs feel right now and keep a positive outlook without overestimating my abilities.

Miles 10-19:  The Boring Miles

After mile 10, the sunrise is mostly complete and the scenery isn’t quite as interesting.  I am bored and wishing I had downloaded some podcasts. I am looking forward to the first half of Hamilton to hold my interest but soon after it starts I hit a two-lane road with a very narrow shoulder and a fair bit of Saturday morning traffic.  Too much of my focus has to go toward watching out for cars and trucks to enjoy and be distracted by the music. I want this to be over but I am not throwing away my shot.  The next stretch isn’t much better; running along a five-lane, big box retail area doesn’t require much focus but gives me nothing to think about except the number of miles still to run.  Maintaining mental focus is harder than I thought right now, so I think about the words engraved on a keychain from my believes-in-me best friend…one mile at a time. It keeps my fussy brain from derailing me with thoughts of how much farther I have to go and how much longer it is going to take.

Miles 20 – the finish:  The Painful and Digging Deep for Inspiration Miles

Oh, the calves!  They demand stretching often to keep them from quitting altogether, and I am depending on the music to keep me going.  Songs that channel my younger self (Where is the tenderness? … so many places!) and songs that remind me of the people I love (These are days you’ll remember) and a song from my wicked fast running friend that gets me through the last part of mile 23 (Don’t you worry we’ll all float on, all right.)  Stretching is making it worse for the calves, so we just have to walk when the cramping comes on.  One mile at a time, one foot in front of the other. I put my head in my hands and start to cry when I hear Don’t Stop Believing because it reminds me of my daughter/coach which reminds me that she told me I couldn’t cry because I won’t have the water or the energy to waste.  One foot after the other, one more lap through this park, seriously, how many more looping miles in this park do we have to do? Carrie Underwood, thank you for believing I am invincible, unbreakable, unstoppable, unshakeable and finally getting me out of that park.  Mile 26 may take forever but there is no way I am not going to make it, so I celebrate just a little with the college fight song…All right now, baby, it’s all right now.  Another less-than-scenic street, another stop light, another minute of walking to keep the calf cramps from hobbling me, and there’s the finish line.  My goal was to make it here, I hoped it would be in 5 ½ hours. I cross, arms held high at 5:03:03. My son gets the perfect one foot over the finish line photo, and I get all the hugs and the Powerade.

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Photo credit: William Miller (@w.m.photography256 on Instagram)

At almost 55, I thought my marathon window of opportunity had slammed shut a long time ago. But, I kept going, one foot after another, one mile at a time, through all the training runs and all the miles of this race.  I have never thought of myself as an athlete but today and always, I am a marathon finisher. So can I get a hand clap?

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