Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Monumental Marathon Re-cap

I've had a few days to process the marathon. If running bores you to tears, this isn't the post for you. I usually write out what happened, what I learned, and what I could improve upon. I just went back and read it all and it dawned on me that I never really cheer myself on. Every time I attempt this distance, I lament how I could have done better. I'm constantly disappointed for a time after the race which I think is just bananas. When I PR'd on the hilliest course in my hometown, I was really proud of myself, but I'm beginning to understand it might be because I know I'm not alone there. I knew teachers, coaches, familiar faces, and friends were all along the route. I knew my Loudon Lacers were nearby running, too. My family was waiting for me at that finish line. My body was in constant motion toward them.
Something broke in me at Indianapolis. It was my slowest marathon out of the five I've attempted. Admittedly, my plan was not thought out. I had a lot of other stressors on my mind and when I showed up to race this flat course, I thought, "I'll just hold around a 9'06 pace for as long as I can". In order to PR, I just needed to be under 9'45. I kinda thought I had that in the bag. My training had consisted of a half (13.1 miles) at marathon pace and I was able to hold that at 8'54 at 9,000 ft of elevation! Then later, my 20 miler was done at a slower pace of 10'15 but I felt totally fine. Although I cut corners for sure due to travel and laziness, I thought I was ready to race. The marathon is a beast, though and I was definitely unprepared.
I stayed on task miles 1-14 with my pace at or well below the mark to PR. I had planned to dedicate all my miles to my children. The first five miles I talked to God about Ari Jo. I felt in control of my body. I felt good. I ate my first Gu at mile 5-6 at the completion of that segment and moved on to praying for sweet Saylor girl. Those miles also felt good. I was well ahead of the 4 hour pace group and feeling on track to PR. Around mile 7 or 8 I decided to throw off my top layer so I took my shirt off and tossed it. Unbeknownst to me, I also took off the headphones that were around my neck. One hundred and sixty dollars just thrown away. When I started to slow around mile 11, I noticed they were gone and just felt sick that I had done that. There was nothing I could do about it, though and so I ran on.

In the past, I've made the mistake of starting off too fast in marathons so I wanted to back off a bit even though I felt pretty good so I hovered around 9'40 for miles 11-14. I had moved on to praying for Merit and slipping a few desperate prayers in there for me, too. At this point, I had crossed the half way point just under two hours which was perfect for what I wanted to do for the rest of the race....
But my wheels fell off. Mile 15 is when I started to pray for Abel. The crowds were starting to trigger me for some reason. When I would run up and see a big group of people looking for their people, I was reminded how alone I was in this race. In NYC, I knew my family was around these miles, looking for me and when I saw them, it literally gave me strength to go on. Not in Indy. I saw these crowds and started struggling to breathe. The pressure I put on myself to do well was crushing me. I didn't have any strength to draw on from anyone else. I was gasping for air and not the way I might if I was physically tired. No, I was having a panic attack. Afraid to stop, I dizzily kept on making deep, loud gasps for air. Multiple times, the medical tents tried to help me, but I knew if I stopped, I wouldn't start back again and I had to keep moving. Miles 15-19 were around 10-11 min paces. At mile 20, I took my fourth and final Gu and started whispering prayers for Kinley. The prayers allowed me to focus on something other than myself for a bit, but I'll be honest in saying I felt absolutely terrible and while my mind was breaking down, so was my body. I couldn't seem to propel myself. My legs weren't going. I wanted to sprint and I could hardly walk. I had completely fallen off and watched sadly as the 4 and 4:15 pace group passed me. As always, I reached out to the running group from back home and tried to put a smile on my face as I checked in with them. They told me they were proud of me and to keep going and so I did. I was run/walking the rest of the race and it was truly difficult for me to even finish. As I hit mile 26, I ran as hard as my legs would carry me which happened to be a 10 min pace and crossed the finish line, nearly passing out. I found my friends, sat down, and was so relieved it was over.
Days later, I'm still not sure where the disconnect was, but I'm sure several things went wrong. I learned that:
- I can't cut corners on training
- Sleep and nutrition the day before is way more important than I knew
- Stress is a factor and I can't treat the marathon like it's no big deal- not ever
I truly never wanted to do this again. As the days have passed, though, I know I can't let this performance be my last. I will keep running and I will try again to reach my goal. I will simply be more prepared next time. 
I felt so sad after the race but then I read the words my Papaw sent that said, 
You may not have met your expectations but you have exceeded ours your entire life! 
 on completing another marathon!
Love Papaw

And I truly started to remember that what I had accomplished was no small feat and I needed to remember how grateful I am that I can even run. I love this sport for all it teaches me. Grit, grace, gumption, gratitude...
Thank you all for your texts, calls, messages, and love on race day. I felt them all!


Adiel said...

Finally got a chance to read this.. sounds like rough going. I can “relate” even though I’ve never been there 😂 but I can imagine those feelings.. you’re amazing! Truly

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