Sunday, 21 November 2010

My Marathon!

On October 17, 2010, I finally completed a marathon. After thirty years of dreaming of running a marathon, I finally did it. It was awesome. Long Beach Marathon, Long Beach, California. It was a good one. Another blogger has done a great job of blogging the whole marathon - his experiences are very similar to mine and I saw most of the same sights and people. I was happily surprised that I wasn't in featured as "can you believe this old lady is out here?"

And then, I have to tell you, I had a few problems. You can see that if you look closely at my time... which is not even accurate. It was worse than that! In the first few miles, my back started cramping. I thought it would work itself out as it frequently does. But it only got worse. I still was determined to enjoy myself and do the best I could.

If it had ended at 15 miles, I would have had a great race. But marathons go beyond 15 miles. They go beyond my 20 mile longest training workout. I discovered the true meaning of "hitting the wall." I never really knew what that was. I had "intestinal problems" which made me hit every porta-potty from about 12 miles to 18 miles. And my back was hurting so bad. At a couple of points there were people with "the stick" who had volunteered to roll it on your legs, or whatever. I asked if they could roll it on my back. It provided tremendous relief. (I bought one after I got home - it is awesome.)

At a point or two, I thought to myself - what the heck am I doing out here? I am old, I am not a skinny little runner. I am slow. I am not your typical marathon runner. I thought of some of those folks who wish anyone taking longer than 5 hours would just stay home.

And then I remembered a stupid movie I saw a year or so ago. About a silly man who said he was going to run a marathon and hadn't trained and had no clue. He was pitiful. I thought about myself watching that movie and wanting him to finish the marathon and how I didn't think he should just stay home. So, I figured, I had paid for my admission to this thing, I had trained seriously for six months. I was having a bad day, but I still could finish it and have my marathon.

I was in so much pain, at one point a woman came up behind me and told me, "it's your race, you have eight hours to finish it, don't sweat it." That was nice.

There were many special moments. The race was awesome. The course was pretty and flat and there was lots of support and lots of spectators. The first 8 or 9 miles were along the ocean which I loved. Winding through neighborhoods in Long Beach was really fun for someone from the arid mountains of Colorado. So different! On Sunday morning, we got to pass by churches full of people. At one point, I saw a house with a Broncos flag waving in the breeze. Very nice! A couple of times nice people walked along with me in the last 10 miles. It is so nice to have a conversation to take your mind off the pain!

One of the most memorable moments came just after I finished though. I had gotten my medal - it is a nice one. I had gotten my little space blanket. I had gotten a little bag with apples and bananas, and some water. And then a man came and put his hand on my shoulder and thanked me. I couldn't imagine why he would thank me, so I asked him.

He said "I have been behind you for miles and miles. I was in so much pain, and I could see that you were in pain, and I knew if you could keep going, I could keep going." Wow.

It was not the experiences I would have wanted to have. I wanted to be able to stay strong and finish strong. But I did not have that experience. I had a different one. It might have been an abysmal performance, but I did it, and I will have that for the rest of my life.

38 comments:

Debbi said...

Congratulations on finishing, I'm so proud of you! What a great thing for that man to thank you for helping him finish. We never know when we're going to inspire, do we?

Shanna said...

Congrats on having the courage to enter the race, train for it and complete it! My husband decided to train for one after I said I thought maybe I'd like to give one a go...I'm currently training for a half so when he drops me off after my long run and doesn't come home for hours after to finish HIS long run, it seems SO overwhelming. Needless to say, I'm chickening out ... for now. Eventually I'll get there, but until then I'll live vicariously through people like you who have the guts to do it!! :)

Wes said...

MARY G! look at you! So proud of you. YOU DID IT!! No matter what anybody says, no matter how long it took you, no matter what your body composition, YOU ARE A MARATHONER! I hope you float on cloud 9 for the rest of the year! Congratulations!!

Henrik said...

Great job on finishing in spite of the difficulties, and you helped someone else in the process! Respect.

northernbliss said...

Good for you!!! I am 57 and I have completed a number of 1/2 and full marathons - but I walk them. But it is the same 26.2 (or 42 km in Canada) that you run. I bet you will be signing up for more - now that you have the bug...I did. Enjoy!!

tracy said...

i am just returning to running after a twenty year hiatus. You make me feel like my two mile jogs jut might get easier some evening, that I might be able to complete the triathlon I have my eye on next may and that I may be able to enjoy the people that run like I did when I was in my 20's. CONGRATS!

Zoy said...

Congrats on not giving up and being able to finish the race. It takes a lot of willpower to keep going when your whole body is telling you to stop. Take care, and have a great day.

The Wesselhofts said...

I want you to know I commend you for running a marathon! :) I am 24 years old and I have trouble with my back when I run too. I hope to one day run a marathon and just wanted you to know I am using you as my encouragment! Well Done!

JoMiKoW said...

Congrats! It is so great to read of people capturing a dream they've had for so long!

A-SOR-TI said...

Congratulations :))

Mike said...

Congratulations on your success. You've inspired me to go for a marathon again. I ran one in 1983. Now at 57 and starting to run again I caught the bug to finish a marathon. I've been running now since Sep 2010 and plan on doing a marathon in the fall of 2011.

Melissa said...

What a great story you told! Congratulations! It is also my dream to run a marathon. I have been sidelined with a knee problem for about 6 months but am ready to get back at it. I am 47 and hope I have the courage to give it a go. You inspired me. Thanks.
I hope you are still running!

Fergy said...

Congrats on finishing! As soon as I turned 29 (I'm 30 now) I started stressing about all of the things I hadn't done yet in life. I made a bucket list and a marathon was on the list! I started with some 5K's and moved to a 10K. Those races were so exhilarating, but I've lost my steam now! I'm hoping to get my running groove back so I can continue to "one up" myself. Thanks for sharing about your journey!

Cindy...154 said...

I think it is absolutely fantastic that you stayed in and finished! What an inspiring story!!

lizzie lee said...

Congratulations for your run. I lived in LB for a couple of years (back & forth w/Seattle) and loved it. Know the route by heart and would've loved to have the opportunity to race it... Hope to see more of your races. Keep it up, it's OUR time!!!

Mark Young said...

Well done!

from an English man you don't know who has been running for 35 years and has never tried a marathon!

Why said...

I quite enjoyed that race report thanks!!

Mike

www.facebook.com/WhyMarathon

alphamom said...

where are you? Please update us--you're my inspiration!!

MrsBridgewater said...

Well done! What an inspiration! If it were easy it wouldn't be worth doing. I hope to run a marathon soon - am in the ballot for London 2012. 42k in my 42nd year should be fine!

Jamile said...

Congratulations! The first one is always the hardest, and it doesn't matter what time you did it in you're still a Marathon runner! well done you, lovely write up too.

helen said...

well done! :)

Pen and Ink said...

Great work! This is really inspiring. Thank you for sharing this.

Mary Gee said...

gotta get rid of all this spam!

Mary Gee said...

It took nearly an hour to delete all of the spam comments, but now I only have real comments. Thanks everyone. I will post a report of this year's marathon in the next day or so....

TX Runner Mom said...

I just found your blog. Congrats on your 2nd marathon! I had similar feelings during my 1st. And that medal is amazing!

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