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