April 20, 2009

Pull Back the Covers and Get Out of Bed! (St. Louis Race Report)

For anyone that doesn't feel like reading the woes of my personal experiences, I ran the St. Louis Marathon in 3:16:XX. It rained the entire 26.2 miles. Anyone who wants to read about my ENTIRE experience, scroll down.

This was one of those races where surviving was more important than the actual time on the clock, as my experiences have been life changing. I think the movie Happy Gilmore is really funny. The St. Louis marathon reminds me of the part where Happy is heckled by someone in the crowd. The heckling is so bad that Happy cannot concentrate and plays horribly. My races have sort of been like that, except the heckling has come from within.

The Friday before Christmas, my heart was broken in the worst possible way. The few days after that are kind of a blur in my memory, but one conversation stands out. In the midst of crying and trying to figure my life out, I asked a close friend what she thought I should do. Her response was fairly simple, "Get up every day, go running, and make it to the next day. You will figure it out." I'm not a psychologist, nor did I see one, but I am pretty sure I became depressed. Had it not been for the 19 children's education I was responsible for, I probably wouldn't have gotten out of bed. I wanted to curl up, cover up, and hide. It was then that I decided to hire Coach. He was the push I thought I needed. New training, new ideas, something to help me feel like myself again. The problem was that the heartache was still there and anger sunk in. True, deep anger was a new feeling to me. It's hard work feeling angry, very draining and exhausting.

You're probably wondering where I am going with this, and here it is. I threw myself into my training to literally try to run away from my problems. The burn in my legs and heaviness of my breathing was better than the sting of my broken heart. During this training cycle, there were very few true recovery runs. The moment my brain started working and my heart started hurting, I ran faster, and faster. Some runs I would literally end in a dead sprint. I did P90X, spinning, pilates, and weights. I slept little and fitfully. I knew this was wrong. I knew I was sabotaging my training, but it felt...
It didn't feel good, but it hid the pain. It is true that time heals all wounds. It is also true that God will never give you something bigger than you can handle. I doubted that, though. I have been a Christian for 15 years, but I lost faith. The fire inside me had burned out. I kept my mind busy as I completed my portfolio for National Board Certification, did my after school tutoring job, and carried on like my normal self. Everything seemed normal, but something inside me felt dead.
I won't say that there was one particular turn around moment, but the day I turned in my portfolio was an awakening. I think the accomplishment of it, followed by a lot less work to do, left me with time to think. Sometime since January 1, I had started to heal. The problem with my running was that most of the damage was already done. Too much pounding and punishment had taken place, which I also think led to my sinus & ear infection due to compromised immune system.
In the weeks leading up to race day, I knew I wouldn't PR. I hoped, but deep down, knew it was unlikely. There had been too many interferences, too much drama. I was beat. So, at Mile 9 of yesterday's race, I ran for survival. Survival it was, indeed. It poured rain; the course was ridiculously hilly, and I chafed where the sun don't shine. (Not to mention the blisters.)

I went back to the hotel, took a shower, and did what I had wanted to do for months- get in the bed, curl up, cover up, and hide. Once I got under the covers, I started thinking, "This is no fun. What am I doing under here? Is this how I want to be? The cover up and die type?" HECK NO!!!!! I pulled off the covered, turned to K and asked, "So, what do you want to do today?" That's what a fighter does after a defeat- presses on!

If you are a man and reading this, you probably think I am a major pansy. See, when men run it is usually unemotional. They cross the finish line after a major victory (or bomb) and the reaction is the same. They meet their family, get a kiss, and go get a beer. Women, on the other hand, cry, hug each other, and make a big spectacle. We can't help it. Our emotions are on our shoulders. Even though I didn't show it at the time, nothing felt better than hearing my parents and K tell me that they loved me and are proud of me. Notice that said "ARE" proud of me. That's what true love does, it supports even when things don't go the right way. Family is there for each other- through the ups and downs. When I look at the people that are special to me, it is difficult to feel sorry for myself. I am so lucky.

Pics below:

Me outside the Hard Rock Cafe & the family outside of Cunetto's House of Pasta

K & I in the Arch

Me throwing back a cold one (diet cream soda) at Fitz's Bottling Company

Brewton friend, Michelle, also ran her 2nd marathon in 4:03!

Race pics:

(That last one is actually BEFORE the race.)
Ps. Aloe came home!!!!!


  1. You're too tough on yourself, woman! I'm so proud of you for getting out there, and just duking it out with that hilly course in the rain the best you could. And you're right-at the end of the day it's being around the important people in your life that matters most. Hope you take time to rest up and recover well.

  2. What a nightmare, an entire marathon in the rain. Seriously, that's my nightmare. What a great post though; the race, well of course major congratulations for what had to be just a grueling day, but also the reality of what's been going on for you prior to that.

    I'm looking forward to your next step, I'm sure there's a race there, but it'll be exciting to see where you go and how you get there, now that your demons have been called out and hopefully, have been fired from the job. Hugs.

  3. do you have blisters on your feet after all those miles in the rain? yuck! i didn't realize that you did the p90x program. kert and i did it too. kert actually started it again...of course, i do some of the workouts in a more modified way now that i'm 6 months pregnant. proud of you for sticking it out!

  4. You fought through a lot during this cycle and race. And of course the race had to be a major toughie! Kudos to you for going out there and meeting the challenge. And still running a good time!!

  5. R, your heart and mind are in the right place, right now. I think you are absolutely blessed! I am so glad to read that you pulled back those covers and got up on your feet when your first instinct was to do the opposite. That speaks volumes! You are on the mend, you're on your way to a peaceful heart and a peaceful mind. When you get there, everything else is just golden. Don't even sweat this marathon. You ran it through the rain, which is no easy task. And we all know how strong you are physically. Now that the non-physical part is catching up, nothing will stop you! In the meantime, recover well, enjoy the down time with your hubby, family and loved ones, and give yourself a pat on the back. It is well deserved!

  6. I hope the skies clear for you soon. Whether it is from running or other parts of your life, I wish you the best.

    Be careful about stereotyping how men are so so different. Some of us wear our hearts on our sleeves, and worry not about being called pansies.


  7. WOW! Tough race, great attitude, as always you are smiling in your pics! I was thinking of you on Sunday up in Boston, hoping for a great day for you.

    Your attitude and ability and dedication are a constant motivation to me. THANKS!

  8. Anonymous4/22/2009


    Looks like you gave what you had for that day, hang in there, sorry the weather did not cooperate but you still did darn good. Great pics too!

    I will catch up with you soon, very hetic!

    Lots of hugs!

  9. If you are a man and reading this, you probably think I am a major pansy.

    Bull. You are one of the toughest runners I know. You're just possibly too nice. I'm so proud of you, you took a chance this year with a coach and a different system. That takes guts. Keep it up.

  10. Well, when one puts oneself out there as often as you do, there are bound to be highs and lows. You have good perspective, and perhaps by loosening your grip a little bit, that sub-3:00 marathon may end up right in the palm of your hand. Chin up, one foot in front of the other. -ESG

  11. Anonymous4/29/2009

    GREAT job running 3:16+, outstanding..continued success..I have a friend (Dr. Melisa Christian) who started at 3:33 and ran 2:42 at the 2008 Womens Olympic Trials...believe in your goals!

    Nate Pennington

  12. Hey LAR,

    Thanks for thinking about me and Statue, I had wanted to run it and them get on the road for TSP. Friday I discovered a problem with the powerpack (ex. battery) for the telescope so I had to get out early Saturday and get a new one. Found a good one at Home Depot. I am thinking of running another race in June or doing the XC series that Trakshak did last year if they do it this year. I think we are doing Peavine for work. Also planning on Hueytown 10K as a tuneup for Chicago. You need to get to the Ham so you can collect on that lunch :)

  13. Congratulations on seeing it through a tough training cycle and even tougher race. I should also add that you look amazingly fabulous in your pictures.

    Don't stay down for too long and be too hard on yourself. I know you know that if you race enough you will have bad races and difficult training cycles. And I know it can be the biggest challenge of all to stay positive and focused through those tough times. When times are tough I always think of the words from the last stanza of Longfellow's poem "The Rainy Day" and I think it is fitting here:

    Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
    Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
    Thy fate is the common fate of all,
    Into each life some rain must fall,
    Some days must be dark and dreary.

    Just keep your eye on the prize. Good times and success are right around the corner for you. Be patient and you will get there soon enough.