Sunday, 20 November 2011

My Second Marathon

That's me - after completing the Mount Desert Island Marathon on October 16, 2011. I was shivering, hence the shoulders being up around my chin. Also of note is the dress. I bought two of them over the summer - I love, love, love them. You may purchase yourself one at . This one is called the ruu-muu - it has a huge pocket in the back, like on a bicycling shirt.

I know last year I said I would never do another marathon. The first one was not a very good experience, other than the joy over having done it. But the pain was horrifying. So, imagine my surprise around January when I decided I really could do another one. The first day I had this thought, I registered for the race, because it fills up quick and I also wanted to do it before I could change my mind. My daughter had already decided she was going to run the race, and I told her I would go and be her biggest fan, but I would NOT do another marathon. I called her to tell her I WOULD do the marathon.

In the 10 months of training, I changed my mind several times. I thought I had irrevocably decided not to do the race on July 30 after I completed my first 18 mile training of the season. I made a mistake in my calculations and ended up doing 19 miles. I had a blister with its own ecosystem on my right foot. I soaked my feet in the Boulder Creek after I was done, which was one of the finest moments of the summer. (but after scrolling through my photos from the last year, I realize that this training had a huge amount of fun associated with it!)
That day, I came home and lay in bed wondering how I would ever get up again. My left foot hurt so bad. I thought I had plantar fasciitis, I went to the doctor several times and my doctor thinks I have stress fracture and ordered an MRI. I have yet to have the MRI, because I think I didn't want to know. Anyway, on July 30, I had a dinner plans with a man I have been dating since May. We were going to a very high end restaurant downtown. I thought I might have to ask him to pick up a wheel chair on the way over, because I wasn't sure I could walk. That was when I decided that I didn't want to continue to do this. I told my coach I was done - I would do half-marathons, but I wasn't going to spend my weekends being unable to walk - and ruin my budding relationship with this nice man!

Me in my fancy running dress and the cutest jacket on earth, purchased at my favorite running store on earth, Runners Roost Lakewood.

I was registered for the Divas Half Marathon in Vail, Colorado on August 21. I had a room reserved at the race hq hotel, so I went up for that. I woke up that morning with a migraine and decided not to do it. I went for breakfast at the hotel and ended up eating with a couple of strangers who were running the race. I told them I had a migraine and wasn't doing it. They murmered sympathy, but then one of them said, "too bad you won't get the medal." Well, I wasn't going to miss out on that medal, so I did that race with a migraine. And it was hard! I don't know how they advertised that race as being "relatively flat" - I would like to meet their relatives! That was hilly as hell! But I had so much fun! At the finish, a fireman puts the medal on you (oh, baby!) and they hand you a long stemmed rose and a flute of champaign (which I gave to friends because I don't drink). In the last couple of miles, you get a tiara and a feather boa. It was super fun, and I had a great time.

And then, on September 25, I did a half-marathon on trails, the Bear Chase. It was hard! I logged my worst time ever for a half-marathon. But I had so much fun! There were three or four river crossings, many hills, and miles of single track, sunshine and beauty.
As I did this race, I considered that I COULD do the marathon I was registered for. There is no time limit, there is an early start for slow people, it is on paved streets, and it is at sea level. As long as I wasn't trying to be competitive, and as long as I wasn't going to beat myself up for my performance, I COULD do it! I sent my coach a sheepish e-mail asking her if she thought I could do it. She immediately sent me a new training plan. I had one weekend to cram in some long mileage, and then I was tapering!

So, off I went to Maine to do my second marathon. I didn't have high expectations. In fact, I had some pretty bad fears based on my first marathon. I had one idea foremost in my mind - to have the best time I could have without driving myself crazy. And I think I was successful. It is a great race. I cannot say enough about it. It is small. If you like crowds and fans cheering at every turn, this would not be your race. If you like a flat fast course, this is not it either. It is hilly. It is never flat. But it is unbelievably gorgeous the whole time. Every square inch of it.
There were so many special moments along this race, it would take another whole post as least as long as this one already is to detail them. Some highlights were: my daughter and I were together through maybe half of the race. We separated at about 7 miles when I had to use the woods (not many porta potties along this course), met up again at about 15, and then separated for good at 20. She was suffering and wanted me to go on without her. It hurt me to do that, but I understood her wanting me to go. (she hadn't trained much and was in five finger shoes.)
I loved this race. I enjoyed it. In the last 2 miles, I did what I won't usually allow myself to do... I cried. I was alone and I was crying. There were only struggling, limping people left on the course. I actually passed a couple of them in the last couple of miles. I was crying because I realized on a cellular level that I was doing this thing. I will be 60 years old in December. I know there are good athletes still at 60, but for most people who are 60, they are not out doing marathons. And no matter what it looked like or how long it took me, I was doing this. Not talking about it. Not dreaming about it. I was actually doing it. I decided I was never going to minimize what an accomplishment this is. I don't need to qualify it with how long it took or what my finishing place was. I did it.

After my marathon last year, one of my friends talked me into buying a "26.2" magnet for my car. She had to put it on the car for me. I thought it was "boastful." I thought that if it took me over 7 hours to complete a marathon, I probably ought not to claim it. After a few months, I took it off my car. After I was done with the Mount Desert Island Marathon, I put that magnet back on my car. Because no matter what, I am a marathoner.

And for next summer? I am planning an Olympic Distance Triathlon.

But I am not ruling out another marathon 100% - only 98%.

p.s., if you are looking for advice about how to go about training for a marathon, I would suggest finding a running group in your area and joining. It is worth every bit of investment of money and time. You learn so much and make friends with wonderful people who are so healthy and positive. I have a great coach who has been a great friend and has taught me things I never knew I needed to know! (Like wearing a plastic bag and a therma-care wrapped around my waist before a race on a cold morning!) And as I was commenting to my friend on Saturday as we watched the other runners go by, there are sure some good looking men in that group! And women too - but we aren't too interested in good looking women.