It’s all about the goal, right? Or is it? You work sooooo hard at something – putting in the time, the effort, the training, and in some cases, blood, sweat, and tears … You give up sleep, weekends, sweets, sleeping in … You give up time with your family and hope that they can eventually forgive you and see that there is meaning and an end to all of this madness …
Then it’s time. Time to show what you’ve got, what you’re made of, what all the training you’ve been putting in and all the sacrifices you’ve made has got you … you’re there. And then the unexpected happens.
In my case, it’s a week and a half out from the Nike Womens Marathon, my right foot with the really bad plantar fasicitis has healed so nicely. I’d been babying it, and making sure that it behaves and doesn’t flare up … so much to the point that I “neglected” my left foot … I guess it got a little mad at me, and decided that it wanted the same attention that the right foot had gotten … and it decided this a week and a half before race day! I scrambled to try and heal it quickly – rest, ice, heat, repeat … Epsom salt soaks, special socks, new inserts, visits to my chiropractor, and a massage … anything and everything. It worked to an extent, but it wasn’t 100%. Lefty was still pretty pissed! That will teach me to neglect it, it seemed to tell me. It wasn’t *really* bothering me though, so I was going to run it, too f’n bad!
The weekend for me, started on Friday afternoon. Chris and I left for San Francisco, checked into our hotel, and got situated. Our hotel was a mere two blocks from Union Square – the hub of the Expotique and Nike Town! So perfect! We walked down to the Expotique so that I could pick up my packet and see what else was going on before the “big” crowds hit on Saturday. Although there’s a lot of energy, and it’s fun, the thing about the NWM is that the expo is soooooo small that it’s called an “expotique.” Not a lot of vendors, more pitch about Nike+, etc. I’m glad that I went and got that out of the way! We were able to meet my Twitter friend, Liana (@FITtorrent), and we had planned to go to dinner that night!
Liana is such an amazing, wonderful person. She is an inspiration to me, and it was fun getting to know her as she drove Chris and I through the streets of San Francisco, and as we had dinner at Scomas! Oh, soooo goood! If you have not yet had the pleasure to eat at Scoma’s, it’s wonderful seafood with a great ambiance!
Saturday would be busy as we were going to pick up another one of my Twitter friends, Ali (@alitherunner), from the airport, then meet up with Linda (@MsV1959). Ali’s plane was delayed by about 45 minutes, so Chris and I headed to Nike Town to see if there was any Nike gear that I wanted to pick up. I needed a hat as forecast for the race called for rain and I forgot my hat! I ended up getting a really cool running hat, a running jacket, and an official NWM hoodie. Then it was off to the Oakland Airport to get Ali!
The afternoon was spent at the Expotique picking up bibs and visiting vendors. After they picked up their race bibs from the Expotique, we called Liana and our new friend, Courtney (@runcourtrun) and we searched for a location for lunch! After much deliberation, we choose to lunch at the Daily Grill, and we called Mac who eventually met up with us with her sister-in-law, Kim. We had a lively lunch, took a few pics, then it was back to the Expotique and to Nike Town.
By this time, I was seriously getting sick or tired, or both. I had been on my feet for a good part of the day, and I just wanted to take a nap. So I left Linda and Ali, I had already lost Mac and Kim … went to find my co-workers Judy and Suzanne to say a quick hello. Afterwards, I went back to the hotel and crashed … hard. I slept for two solid hours. I could’ve slept until morning, but I needed to fuel up for the race. We were able to connect with Suzanne and Judy and we had a very nice dinner at a Mexican restaurant close to our hotel.
Last minute race details – pulling out the alternate race outfit due to rain, pinning the race bib to my dri fit shirt, making sure the inserts in my shoes were “comfortable,” breakfast ready to consume, electrolyte drink mixed … I was ready.
I slept uneventfully. No tossing and turning. I hit the pillow and I was out until the alarm went off at 0515! Surprising as I usually don’t sleep well pre-race.
I met Ali and Linda at 0615. San Francisco was cool and crisp – perfect running weather. Walking to the start line I was already having some issues with Lefty. I couldn’t get it comfortable in my shoe no matter what I did to my insert. I could only hope for the best at this point.
The energy at the start line was amazing! Great music, happy runners … I wish I could say that I added to the energy, but I wasn’t feelin’ it. I felt blah, and I was worried. If there was ever a time that I wish I could DNS, today would be that day! But there was no turning back now … I know, I know, I know … cut to the race chase already! I’m even boring my own self! Ugh.
Immediately at 0700 the much awaited for gun goes off, and the race starts! It took me 20 minutes to get to the official start, and that first step … that first step with Lefty, I knew it was going to be a very LONG race! I was going to gut this out, but it was going to be hard.
The first 10K – I was holding steady. I hit one of the dreaded hills and powered up without any difficulty. I had lost my pacer, but I figured that I would just run and try to relax and have some kind of fun. Lefty was irritated, but she was hanging on. I thought about shedding a tear, but it I knew that it wouldn’t be worth it. You see, Row. doesn’t cry. Row. will keep on going.
Mile 9 – I had to go … and I had to go now. I took a much needed porta potty break. I’m not sure how much time I wasted waiting, but it didn’t seem like that long.
At mile 11, I see the turn off for the half and I contemplate turning off. I stare at that turn off and long to steer my feet in that direction, but they wouldn’t veer off the path that they were on. What? Yeah, I know … my head knew that I had signed up for the FULL not the half marathon, and I wasn’t hurting bad enough yet to give up. So, I bypassed that half turn off, grabbed a bunch of oranges from one of my favorite doctors, Dr. Gambhir, at the Kaiser Permanente station, and powered on.
At the half, I was still having conversations with myself about why I didn’t turn and run down its path. That would have been the easy way out. I’dve been done already. I’m just not a quitter. I’m tenacious. I’m strong. I’m not smart enough to know when to quit. Gah! I stop to stretch out my tight calves and my poor Lefty! I think again that it’s not too late to turn around and head towards the half … Yeah, it is, Row. Yeah, it is.
At this time I’m running out of the park, heading towards my beloved nemesis … Lake Merced! I love Lake Merced! Hahaha … NOT! But I had made it to Lake Merced this year without a hitch. Never mind that I was soooooo off pace! So off pace! I knew that this would NOT be the race PR that I was hoping for. I had already lost the race. I was in my head, and try as I might, I couldn’t get out of it. By this time, it’s raining … it feels good, and I think that if I were crying, it would sure mask the tears. I wasn’t crying though. I was running … just running.
At mile 20, I don’t know anymore. I’m hurting … a lot. Not just Lefty, but my pride is taking a big hit. I can’t see how strong I am anymore. I can’t see that I’m doing something incredible. I’m pissed because I’m injured, and I’m not going to hit my goal of that sub 5 marathon that I trained so hard for. I don’t care any more. Then there’s a small miracle … a miracle in the form of a beautiful friend named Jessica Wilson! She’s a friend of my son, Sam, and a student at SF State. She had come out to support me. By this time it’s pouring down rain, and I ask her, no, I BEG her to run with me for a minute. “Please, run with me to mile 22,” I ask her. She is a former cross country star, and I am ever so thankful that she says yes. Jessica talks to me, she tells me that I am doing well, and that she’s amazed that I’ve come this far! I’m sad when mile 22 come up and she leaves me … 4 more miles, Row. Only 4 … I got this.
Yeah right … I’m hurting like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve slowed down to an incredibly slow snail’s pace, and the letters DNF comes to mind! But it’s only four. more. miles. Power through. Push. I try to be positive. I try to be happy that I would finish. I don’t know what else to do. I have nothing left in me … I’m tanked out. Spent. Done. However, the only way back is to get to that finish line. No one was going to come an pick up my sorry ass, and I am too proud to see “DNF” by my name. I knew that I would finish come hell or high water …
And I did almost an hour later … by my Garmin I finished in 5:20ish. I haven’t checked my official time, nor do I want to know. I was done and I didn’t care. I was ashamed that I couldn’t even be proud of my performance which was a PR, just not the PR that I was looking for. I wasn’t happy. All I could think of was, “I trained soooo hard for this!” I felt so bad for my husband who was so proud of me, and all I could do was sulk. I just wanted to get out of there! It was cold, and it was raining wildly! This time, the rain masked my tears.
I mistakenly sent a text to Linda telling her how I really felt which read, “I’m a loser.” I couldn’t help it. I wanted to go home, crawl in a hole, and just die. Okay, not die, but cry … I knew that I would be okay, but I really just needed to cry and get it out of my system. My coach, Josh (@speedysasquatch), called me to talk about this “loser” business. I let my cell go to voice mail as I just couldn’t talk to anyone. I couldn’t … not yet.
A couple hours later, I was home, showered, unpacked, still tapped out, but fed. My poor hubby, still trying to make me feel better, and I wasn’t having it. I, who do not cry, let my guard down and the tears flowed. He could not console me. But I didn’t really want consolation, I only wanted to cry and get it out.
It wasn’t much later that I was able to talk to my coach. The tears were no longer flowing, just a drop here and there. He told me that I was NOT in any way, shape, or form a “loser.” I finished that race – despite everything – injury, weather, difficult course – I finished that race. I stared down the half chute and bypassed it. I hit the wall, and perservered. I hurt, and I kept going. That, he said, tells him a lot about me. I was reminded that most people would never even dream of showing up to the starting line. I ran, and I finished, and I did PR despite not hitting my goal time. So … hold my head up, he tells me, and be proud of myself.
And I cried again … because it is now that I realize that I am not a loser. I am Row., marathon FINISHER. When the going got tough, I got tougher, and I saw it through until the end. That I believe is what people are talking about when they speak of the “Spirit of the Marathon.” Thank you, Josh, for setting me straight, and for making me see me for who I am, not for what I do.
There will be other races, other marathons. This is NOT the end for me. This is just one of many, and I know that not every race can be a race where I PR. For now I will take my finish and file it away. I will be happy with the fact that I CAN run. I will look harder to see the winner that I am because I know that she’s in there … I’ve caught glimpses of her before. But right now, I need a well deserved break … and I am going to take it. Not lacing my shoes up for a little while. Gonna hang them up in a safe place and just look at them.
Quick Note: I really have sooooo many people to thank for getting me through the finish line. I know that I will not be able to name everyone, and if I “forget” to mention you … please don’t be offended. First – BIG, HUGE thank you goes out to my coach, Josh (@SpeedySasquatch). In the two (yes, you read correctly TWO) months that he worked with me, I improved greatly. He kept my spirits up, and was a major factor in keeping my head screwed on right. I have to thank, Mac, because she is my running buddy, and she never lets me down. She is a solid rock, and a great inspiration and motivation. I only wish that we could have run together. I cannot forget ALL of my Twitter friends – I wish I could name ALL of you. You guys ROCK!!! You kept me motivated and held me accountable, you made the journey fun, and didn’t let me get down on myself when all I wanted to do was crawl in a hole! For those who ran miles with me in real life – Ron (@PunkRockRunner), Linda (@MsV1959) and her running partner Kim, my friends from work – Cory and her husband, Sam, Suzanne, and Judy – who ran hills with me and came back even though I almost made her puke! I TRULY appreciated all of your company as we put the miles in together! And, of course, my awesome family!!! Chris, who would bike beside me and be my SAG man and who has never missed a race of mine! My kids who put up with my OCD and would push me out the door, and pick up a lot of the slack at home! You guys are awesome and I love you!!! Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU ALL!!! I could not have gotten to this point without your support!!!