3:49.43…and i lived to tell about it

27 03 2009

It’s friday, march 27 – 5 days after completion of my first ever full marathon.  I still catch myself recalling certain points in the race.  it helps that everyone who knows i ran it wants to know all about it.  i’m thankful to say that i really was able to focus on taking in the whole experience while running it.  i remember the walk from the hotel and how it was much less crowded than i’d thought it would be.  i remember getting to the end of atlantic ave. on the first trip out and the guy blasting contemporary Christian music and cheering us on.  i remember a lot of stuff, but most specifically, i remember it was hard.

tweeting prerace

tweeting prerace

i got to the start line and decided i’d start between the 3:40 & 3:50 pacer.  now i really didn’t think i’d finish in 3:40, but there was a good spot for me there, and the goal was under 4, so i knew i could cruise along somewhere in there.  i rolled out at the start and really cruised through the first 7 miles, actually a bit fast.  my 7 split was 59:50.  My 13.1 split was 1:52.50.  I felt great at that point and had really settled in to a pace I was happy with, although it was still faster than I had planned.  Coming back through atlantic ave. was nice as there were people all along the road cheering us on.  Shamrock prints your name on your race bib, which i thought was a nice touch.  i realized once the race started that it gave spectators the ability to call you out by name.  which is a bit strange.  and then it just gets old.

so the north loop of the race gets lonely.  it moves up past the atlantic ave. then loops up through a military base.  I felt completely awesome right on up to mile 17.   that is when i started to get a bit tired, and it happened to be at the furthest point out, and the most lonely.  i could tell that the runners around me were starting to fade a bit too, as there was less chat, less positive vibe in general.

it was at mile 22 that i was beginning to think i was ready to be done.  the good news was, by then i could see that i was certainly going to come in under 4 hours, which was the goal.  the entire race, i’d been peaking back to see if i could see the 3:50 pacer, and not until this point did i see him creeping back up behind me.  he was beginning to hoot and holler and had started his kick.  i’ll admit i had these visions at a couple of points of finishing with the 3:40 pacer and owning it.  i really wanted to keep him behind me, but at about 24 miles, i fell behind the 3:50 pacer.  i was able to keep them in my sights though, and crossed the line within about 20 seconds of him.

i can see the finish line from here

i can see the finish line from here

immediately, at the finish line, the first thing i thought of was how much my back and legs hurt.  the second thing i thought of was how awesome it was that i had just finished.  once i made it down onto the beach to the after party, it all hit me and i did get a bit emotional, and shed a few tears.   it was an amazing experience. yes it was hard.  yes, i’ll do it again.

i’ve never thought of a bucket list for myself.  but as i thought of it the other day, if i did have one, it would have “run a marathon” checked off.  if you’ve ever considered it, do it.  you can.  there were thousands of stories at the race last weekend.  mine was just one.  yours could be there too.

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thankfulness.

12 03 2009

I’m 9 days away from my first full marathon.  I’ve moved into my taper and it’s given me lots of time to begin a reflection of what the last 17 weeks have been like for me.  What a great experience, and although I’m sure the experience of running and finishing the Shamrock Marathon will be amazing, I can’t discount what I’ve learned about myself through the training.

For me, maybe the most eye-opening bonus of distance running is the ability to think more clearly than I ever recall thinking.  The clarity I have during and after a long run is so refreshing and often I look forward to that experience as much or more than the physical act of running.

shamrock

Haruki Murakami really describes what goes on in a runners mind (at least from my experience) in his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.  He talks about the idea that he runs in a void, or rather that he runs to acquire a void.  Though occasionally thoughts sip into this void, they are more like clouds in the sky.  The sky remains the same, but the clouds come and go, leaving only the sky behind.  I really like that description and it works for me to, doing a good job of describing where I go when I run.  If that alone is what I have gained through this journey, it will have been worth it.

About 2/3 of the way through my training, I developed what would later be diagnosed as a calf tear.  About half way through a 6-mile run, I started experiencing intense pain in my left calf.  Knowing I couldn’t simply wait it out, I contacted the experts at Balanced Physical Therapy.  Chad Flickinger was assigned as my therapist and without his great direction and advice I could not have recovered so quickly or changed and improved my running form to help prevent future injuries.  Shortly after that, I contacted Sage Rountree and began attending her Yoga for Athletes Class at Carrboro Yoga Company in hopes of improving my running as well as finding more new places inside my spirit to explore.  I have really enjoyed her teaching and Yoga has been an interesting adventure so far, so we’ll see.  All along, one of my most treasured guides along the way, Heather Wuthrich, has helped me to see the trail more clearly, and understand why some of the obstacles have been there.  So another important thing that I have learned is that although I am strong enough to accomplish much through the spirit that I am, part of the journey is discovering what others have to teach me and finding the courage to ask for help.

All along the way, I have had a partner with me.  Anyone who has taken a similar journey knows what a time commitment it can be.  There are also commitments to diet, scheduling and finances.  In most situations, we all have people who share our lives and when I embarked on this adventure, that was true for me.  It still is, and Cindy has been the perfect partner, supporter, coach, counselor and friend.  She has never waivered or done anything but support and love me, and seeing that the love she had for me was an important part of the whole journey has been an incredibly important learning experience.

There have been other things I have learned along the way.  Patience.  Perspective.  How to find the Stillness inside me.  But perhaps, no clearly, the most profound thing I have discovered, is a new understanding of thankfulness.  For the ability to run.  For the opportunity to do what I have grown to love.  For the sights I have seen as my feet have moved me along the road.  For the other spirits I’ve met and continue to meet along this journey.  For the clarity that has always been there, but that I can now have.  For moving closer to a clear picture of who I am.  For the journey itself.

The race is 9 days away, and it should be fun.  And I hope to report back on it then.