When I crossed the finish line at the Cape Cod Marathon in 2009 I said, ‘that was the easiest marathon I’ve ever run’. It was a great day, I ran a great marathon and deemed it a great success.
Yesterday I crossed the finish line again at Cape Cod beating my previous time after pushing through the most intense pain I have ever, EVER experienced. Worse than when I wore sneakers that were too small at my first Half Ironman, far worse than Ironman and certainly worse than any marathon I had run previous. That includes my first one which was Denver 2007 – torrential downpours, freezing temperatures and tears. But as I continue to gain clarity on the day, the knowing that yesterday was one of the greatest experiences of my life grows ever stronger. Yesterday is the day that I will draw strength from in Lake Placid. Yesterday is the day that showed me just how strong I am and I am humbled by it.
The last time I studied with Meditator Bob he gave me a new mantra that he wanted me to practice – ‘I am awake and ready’. It resonated with me immediately and after saying it a few times, I said ‘Bob – I love it but kind of think you’re throwing me into the Lion’s Den with this one’. He greeted that comment with this intuitive guide type sinister smile. I felt like I was conjuring up something big when I said it and had a feeling that it was going to be more of an invocation than anything. So of course, I thought…”Bring it on Universe, I surrender to the divine. You wanna dance, let’s dance”. No doubt, yesterday’s marathon was the something big.
Where should we start…. How’bout that storm? I heard from one news source that we haven’t seen a storm like that since the Civil War. I also heard that it was a Wintercaine because it had an eye to its system so it was behaving more like a hurricane. It came out of nowhere and it was powerful. My response to this developing system pre-marathon was I am awake and ready. I had no other choice, I was not going to be concerned with the weather. I would do the marathon in whatever conditions were provided to me knowing it would be exactly as it was supposed to be.
And so it was. In the 30′s and windy. I was dressed appropriately but the cold got into my bones almost immediately. On the coast, 114lbs and 60 mile an hour gusts that felt like they where determined to take me down. The extra effort commanded by these elements had me down about 1 or 2 gels short of the nutrition I needed. There were no gels on the course, the last time they had nutrition at some of the aid stations. Yesterday there was nothing so I had what I had – salt, 3 gels, 6 glucose tabs and a shitload of will. I took it all.
So why all the pain? I believe that there was one major cause and then a few contributing factors like conditions and nutrition but those just frosted my house of pain. The one overwhelming reason was that my body was not used to the impact, especially the downhill. Almost 5 weeks out from the marathon I discovered a stress reaction in my tibia. Determined to get to the starting and finishing line I immediately stopped my road training and did everything to heal. The good news, the bone is healed and never even came into play yesterday. It was everything else, everything from my hips down had a voice and it was screaming bloody murder.
I’ve been running at 0% of my body weight in the pool and 75% of my body weight on the G-trainer for no longer than 45 minutes. Yesterday I ran 4:38:15 on the pavement at 100% of my body weight. Clearly I knew this going into the race but I was not going to allow this to fill my mind or cause doubt. I stayed optimistic and confident before the race and yesterday, I stayed strong and clear. At mile 9 I wanted to stop. I had 17 miles to go. I took it one mile at a time changing my mantra each mile – “get to 10”, “get to 11”, “get to 12”, all the way home. At mile 25 I was shocked at the level of pain I was in and the fact that I was still going as hard as I could. 1.2 miles left. I have run 1.2 miles hundreds of times, I was running on adrenaline and sheer will. I saw BJ and the kids just before the turn onto Main St. The finish was close, all of a sudden I was back on Sherman Ave in Couer d’Alene going to the finish line at Ironman. The feeling of accomplishment, sheer wonder that my body was still moving and determination to give everything I had to get over the finish line was overpowering.
So after promising my body for 17 miles that I could stop at the finish, I crossed the line and couldn’t walk another step. My legs wouldn’t go. It was a crazy feeling, one I hadn’t had before. I was helped over to a close by gurney for some rest. The volunteer was so nice and immediately knew that I needed assistance. I was eventually able to get up and get to the car. My body recovered amazingly in that first 30 minutes and even more so after a delicious meal and a few IPAs at Wicked with my parents and beej.
So as I sit here Monday morning my legs are wrecked, I’m exhausted, wind burned and full of gratitude. I’m grateful for my husband BJ for being all over the course yesterday, cheering me on with friends. Beej: You are clearly paying your dues and your support is everything to my success. We are quite the team babe! For my mom and dad that came to the finish line and for my body, I can’t believe what it can do.
Yesterday was a huge experience and no doubt a defining one. I am quite frankly amazed by my strength and what I can push through. Marathon #5 in the bag.
Next stop – Ironman Lake Placid, training starts now.