Monday, April 25, 2016

The OKC Memorial Marathon: final installment

I ran a marathon.

Have you ever wanted something really bad, but knew it was going to be painful getting it?  That is what running a marathon was for me.  I wanted it so bad, but I kicked and screamed getting there.  I may have even cried a few times.

Because you've been with me on this journey the past few month's I'm going to break it down for you.  Play by play.  Grab a cup of coffee.

You know that feeling like you're going to throw up?  Yeah, I had that Sunday morning. I honestly didn't know how to get my nerves under control.  I slathered myself in the essential oil Stress Away. Andy's cousin and brother picked us up at 5am.  And off we went, in the dark, stomachs in knots.  Once downtown the music was pumping and you wouldn't have known it was 5:30 in the morning.  People were everywhere.  In line for port of potties, adjusting their iPods and bibs.  You could seriously feel the excitement.  We headed to our corral and waited.

Something super special about the OKC Memorial Marathon is that it honors the 168 people who died in the bombing of the Murrow Federal Building in 1995.  So before anything happens, we have 168 seconds of silence, to honor the victims.  Ten thousand plus people, and you could hear a pin drop for 168 seconds.  It is something you have to experience.  I can't describe it to you.  Then there are general announcements - the declaration that 24K people are running anywhere from 1 mile to 26.2 is the most astounding.  And the countdown begins.

Watching all those people start running across the start line is something else I can't describe.  When it's my turn I gave Andy a quick smile, a fist bump, and a squeal.  And I watched him run ahead.  I tried to pace myself but it's so easy to get caught up in it all.  The spectators yelling and clapping, trying to avoid running into someone - its a bit chaotic.  But by mile 4 you settle in.

Mile 8. I was getting hot.  Temperatures were hotter than I have ever run in before.  And 70 degrees isn't hot by any means.  But when your running, it's hot!  I started to worry about hydration.  I hadn't practiced hydration in hot, humid weather. Then this wave of panic came over me.  "I can't do this today", I thought.  I just kept running and talked myself off the ledge.  My original plan was alternate water and Powerade at the water stops.  That quickly turned into one of each, since I was paranoid about hydration.

Those running the half marathon broke off and the crowd gets really thin. Which is nice, and scary all at the same time. Then it gets mundane.  I listened to a couple of podcasts.  I watched a woman with long white hair pass me while running in her bare, black feet.  The old man next to me said, "Can you imagine running like that?"  I said "no way".  He said "Me either" and then promptly passed me as well. I read all the signs of the spectators.  One of my favorites was "You run a better race than Trump and Hillary".

It was evident by my pace my projected time of finishing in 5 hours wasn't going to happen.  I tried not to be disappointed and just focused on each mile.  By mile 15 I was hurting.  I could tell I had blisters forming and decided to stop at the next medic tent and get some band aids.  I stopped at the right one!  Because fellow SNUers were the medics!  This girl, SNU trainer, gave me a much needed boost.  Whatever your name is - thank you.

Mile 18. I found myself in the midst of the 5:30 pace group.  I decided to try to keep up with them. They were running for a certain amount of time and then walking 2 minutes.  I managed that for a couple of miles but lost them at a water stop.  I liked taking my time at the water stops.  For obvious reasons.

Mile 20. One of my good friends yells at me from her vehicle on the longest most boring stretch of the race.  It gives me a much needed boost. The rest of the race was mind over painful feet.  My feet were absolutely killing me.  And I resorted to running for a bit and then walking for a bit.  I walked way too much.  But I have never felt pain like I did in my feet.

Mile 24. my friend Jen was spectating after finishing volunteering at the water stop.  She got these awesome pics of me, without me knowing.  Yep.  That's about right.  Me walking slowly, taking my time hydrating.

Mile 25.  I know its close but I'm about to cry.  A friend, Heather,  I have trained with before for a half is sitting on the curb and comes running up to me.  She had done the half that morning.  She runs with me.  I am so. happy. to see her.  She takes my mind off it, asks me how I'm doing, and then runs in front of me to block some of the wind.  She runs with me until the final curve of the race. She gives me some last minute encouragement and I round the corner to the finish.

Running towards that sign that says finish, I spot my family hanging over the rails yelling for me.  I threw my hands in the air. I know they are just so happy they don't have to wait anymore.  But I pretended it was because they thought I was a rock star.  It was seriously one of the top 5 moments of my life.

I did it. I set a really hard goal, that I wanted to quit about 100 times, but I pushed myself and I did it. Did my time stink?  Totally.  Just under 6 hours.  Do I care?  Not a lick.

Now it's your turn.  What are you going to do?  I can't wait to hear about it.  And I hope you Just Finish Strong.

P.S. I have 8 blisters so I really did have a reason for my feet to hurt and that stinky time...jus sayin' 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Meet Misty

It's a bit of a landmark day.  I ran my last training run for this Sunday's marathon with my training partner, Misty.  It was a nice short 3 miles.  I thought maybe I should reminisce during my run, but instead went with the Pandora station "Summer Hits of the 2000's" (Now I ain't sayin she a gold digger..".

Let's talk about Misty.  Misty has been with me 75% of my training runs.  Misty and I would probably call each other acquaintances before training together.  We work at the same place, we have a lot of the same friends.  But we had never spent any time together.  I remember the day she stood in my office and told me she was going to train for the Marathon, her first.  I had been contemplating it, but hadn't committed.  She invited me to train with her.  And here we are, 4 days before the marathon, running our last training run.

We have met at 0'dark thirty too many mornings to count.  It usually started with a short greeting after leaving the comfort of our warm cars in the dark.  And then armed with our headlamps and our headphones we logged the miles.  The thing with running is that you don't have to say anything to the person you are running with.  Sometimes it can spur deep conversations, and other times it's the words unspoken that you needed.  More often than not it was the words unspoken.

If you want a training partner, you need a Misty.  Misty is fast.  She pushes you to go faster than you want to.  Many times I would work hard to keep up with her.  Other times, I'd look at her in the distance and say to myself "get it girl".  Misty never bailed on a training run.  She is crazy committed.  I'll be honest and say I bailed a few times, simply because I couldn't bear the thought of trading the warmth of my bed for the cold of the dark morning.  She never once cancelled.

I'm happy that on the other side of way too many miles, I can call Misty a friend.  I'm thankful for the road shared, the conversations, the motivation I sometimes didn't want, and the unspoken words.

Misty will leave me in the dust on Sunday, to which I will say "Get it girl!"  And I couldn't have done it with out her!

Monday, April 11, 2016

The 20 miler.....

I said I would NEVER run a marathon.  And I haven't.  Yet.  But I did run 20 miles.

It is the longest run of the training season.  Not quite sure how you prepare yourself to run 20 miles.  Other than don't think about it.  I bought myself a new water belt in the hopes that having something new would make me excited.  It worked for about 30 minutes.

The weather was perfect, but we were running late.  Waking up and making it downtown by 6:30am on a Sunday morning is not an easy task! And my need to hit the restroom one more time put us starting 5 minutes after the other 100+ runners who were doing their 20 miler too.  I was off to a rip roaring start.  I settled in after the first couple of miles and calmed a bit after I did have a few other runners in my view.  At mile 6 I was feeling awesome.  I had a fueling plan.  I had my playlist playing.  I can do this.  The crowd thinned out around then with the half marathoners taking a different turn.   Thats when people were sparse and the 10 minute restroom stop at Whole Foods for my running partner/husband put  a serious cramp on the nice pace we had set.  But we trudged on.

Around mile 10 an old man who hears us coming up behind him says "you're working too hard".  "Excuse me?" I said.  "You're working too hard.   Just run it nice and easy."  He was right.  We really were working too hard and he had most likely heard me complaining.  So I asked him how many he'd run.  He said 2 a year since the 1980's.  Dude was crazy.  But he was also relaxed and enjoying himself, which I was not.  We said goodbye and passed him.  I thought to myself, I bet he cranks it past us later on.  I was right.

The wheels started to fall off when we had to run 40 blocks down Classen.  It's not a pretty road, there was a lot of traffic by this time, and usually around mile 14 I'm mentally done and physically hurting.  And that day was no different. Those last 6 miles there was a lot of saying to myself "you can do this", there was some walking sprinkled in, but the bottom line is I made it 20 miles.  And we treated ourselves to our new post training long run treat - whole foods hot coffee and something super indulgent from their bakery.

Now I can't imagine running 6.2 more than I did that day.  So I'm honestly going to not think about it.  And I'm going to hope the memory of that 20 miler is gone in 2 weeks when I have to run 26.2.  Andy keeps reminding me if it was easy, everyone would do it.  I'm so close.  I'm going to Just Finish Strong.  I am.