At last, the day has come when I can call myself a marathoner! There were times, during my training schedule, that I thought I’d never do it. There were times the night before when I felt I’d taken on the impossible. Even in the car, on my way to the start line as I (along with Curt and Wayne) was chauffeured by Mary, I doubted that I’d ever get the chance to wear the coveted aluminium cloak (once that bacofoil is on your shoulders, you feel like a true athlete!).
However, once I was surrounded by the other runners, and my feet started to pound along the pavement, I just knew I was going to get to the end of the 26.2 miles. I knew my time would not be exceptional but I was determined I would enjoy it and I think I smiled pretty much the entire length of the marathon!
What I didn’t realise was that I was not alone in my desire to get to my butt to the end – family and friends, overseas and in the US, watched the online tracker, supporting me virtually; friends waited to cheer me along the course; Michiel, ran alongside me, checking on my progress and enjoying the humourous signs along the way; Mary planned logistics to get me to and from the race, fueling me in advance and re-fueling me post-race; Barry, Craig and the boys turned up at mile 5 and surprised me with a second cheer at mile 10 (in between the boys’ soccer games); all these people had a hand in getting me to the end. What really amazed me was the number of people who didn’t know me cheering me on my way – volunteers and spectators. The atmosphere was incredible. All the runners supported each other, the spectators were amazing – singing, dancing, cheering. Many people had set up speaker systems on their lawns and were partying as they cheered us on. There were several live bands en route. One guy even cycled alongside us for a while with a boom box fixed to the back of his bike knocking out some great beats! There were drummers, funny signs, high fives even beer at one point (I declined!). Some people offered pickles to help with our salt consumption, some came out with oranges and bananas, there were people offering energy gels and vaseline. Incredible! All the races I’ve done have been fun but this was way beyond that! The route was beautiful too. We took in four lakes and a stretch of the Mississippi. The sky was blue and the fall colours are starting to turn so it was perfect. The weather was just right….10 degrees C (50F) at the start (8am) and 21 degrees (70F) at the end…the last hour was maybe a little hot but I felt cold for the first 3 hours so I welcomed a bit of sun on my face!
As many of you know, I ran wearing yellow for “LIVESTRONG wear yellow day” which, coincidentally, falls on October 2nd, the day of the marathon. So far I have raised $895 – thank you to all who have pledged to this great cause. A great success! (By the way, those iPod headphones stayed clipped to my t-shirt the entire way – there was so much energy and music on the course, I didn’t need them!)
It’s not too late if you would still like to pledge an amount:
My yellow LIVESTRONG shirt elicited some motivating “Go Livestrong” cheers from the crowd – especially when I passed the LIVESTRONG stand. Running in support of this non-profit was motivating in many ways. Thinking about the “chemo marathon” Barry has to get through one week out of every month, not to mention the radiation and surgery he has endured, certainly helped to put my few hours of runner’s pain into perspective! I know I can never take that pain away but it is mildly gratifying to think that raising funds might help people suffering from cancer in some way. I realised, as I ran, that everyone has their cause. There were people wearing shirts for Africa; there were many dedications to lost love ones; one guy ran carrying a sandwich board in support of nurses; another guy ran with a huge US flag in support of war veterans; I ran close to a group of “Team Purple” runners supporting Leukemia research….the list is endless but it makes me very proud to be able to call myself a runner.
I’m not saying it was easy….there were times when my hips ached so much I wondered if I should keep running! My stomach complained and cramped as it attempted to digest GU energy gels on the run. The mile and a half climb around mile 20 was most unwelcome but I was determined not to let all that training go to waste! However, there is some doubt about whether I really tried my hardest since I didn’t end up in the medical tent and I can still walk today – haha! I admit, I probably could have gone a little faster but I am a hundred percent certain it wouldn’t have been as much fun if I had – yep, I’m just a girl who knows how to have a good time!
A few weeks ago, when I was training in the July heat and humidity, I swore I would never run another marathon….we’ll see! For now, I have my sights set on completing the Monster Dash Half Marathon with my brother and Michiel in just under four weeks time….training begins just as soon as my legs forgive me for Sunday!
PS Here are my marathon stats if anyone is interested;
My official results (My favourite stat on this page is the 24 mile to finish info in the bottom right corner).
And the data recorded by my Garmin so you can see the route:
I found myself pushed way out of my comfort zone with my latest writing project. It was an assignment I pulled from the board at Yahoo. The topic was a favourite album from 2011. There was no contest – Elbow – ‘build a rocket boys!’.
I have found that I can write on some topics quickly and freely, but this one took me quite a while. I love music and I love this album, but I am not a musician; so I really had to work hard at making certain I sounded like I knew what I was talking about! (I’m still not sure if I pulled it off). The whole process got me thinking about why I did that to myself. Then I thought about all the other occasions I push myself into that zone and realised that I spend quite some time out there. I think it probably stems from childhood. I was very lucky to have some exceptional experiences when I was young. I thought nothing of jumping on a plane at age 12 to go and spend a couple of weeks with a family I had never met before, in a language I was only beginning to comprehend. Experiences like that have facilitated “out of my comfort zone” to be my comfort zone! Without them I may never have agreed to live in Spain (before learning the language); perhaps I would have resisted a move stateside. Each experience has been a building block for the next.
I am preparing for my first marathon this October – that is most definitely out of my comfort zone! With all the training I am doing I can’t help but be pulled in to other people’s running challenges. I have been following a group (one of whom is our landlord) who have just run an ultra-marathon: 100 miles through the Black Hills of Dakota. Meanwhile they have raised a huge amount of money for a local charity. Their achievements have been phenomenal! It just shows that some people’s comfort zone extends way past the end of mine! Here’s a link to their facebook page – AD4AP
The most notable “out of comfort zone” experiences of late are most certainly those of my husband (and other cancer patients). Their endurance puts that of a marathon runner to shame. I run further to push myself – that’s my choice. I write more difficult articles to improve my skills – again, my choice. Barry begins a challenging regime of radiation and chemotherapy today. It will extend way beyond my marathon training. This is not a choice, this is for survival. We have had a few weeks of Barry just being Barry. Fit and able to do all the things he loves: family time, cycling, soccer coaching and he even managed a spin on the wakeboard last night. He left for work this morning like any other day despite the enormous challenge that lay in his path. Yes, I push myself out of my comfort zone but Barry is taking it to a whole new level.
My official marathon training plan started today. I bounced out of bed and dressed for the run, in the dark incidentally, hence my compression socks were on the wrong feet….luckily I noticed before I put my running shoes on or else who knows what would’ve happened?! My run was short but nevertheless required a certain amount of endurance. I began in high heat and humidity, battling against strong winds, before the skies dumped a suitably cooling amount of rain on me. I take gratification in the fact that I can check the final two elements off my shirt….
(Snow and sleet I tackled in the exceptional Minnesota winter.)
Other than the night after I signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon, I have not thought too much about the magnitude of the event (at least I’ve been trying not to!). I stayed awake most of the first night, tossing and turning thinking “What on earth have I done? What am I getting myself into?” Since then, I’ve been treating it as something I’ll just pop out and do on the morning of October 2nd in order to work up a suitable appetite to enjoy a barbecue with friends. However, I read a chapter of “Mile Markers” yesterday entitled “The Wall”. Hmmm….I think I had decided I was invincible and “the wall” won’t apply to me. Maybe it won’t. But, the more I read about this psychological running deterrent, the more I am convinced it is real. Needless to say, I will need many supporters around mile 18 – 22….please bring pick-axes! I have been fortunate (debatable) to read many other interesting titbits on marathon running/training. I have learned that it hurts….sometimes a lot! I have read that stairs can only be negotiated in reverse for the days following the 26.2 miles. I won’t even go into the effect on bodily functions! Now I am ready to be respectful. Today marked the start of my mental training for the race – I have 18 weeks to get both mind and body up to scratch!
My little run out also got me reflecting on my last blog post. I started to picture a coach yelling at me about my form “Pick those knees up, straighten your back….”, miraculously, my posture improved and my stride lengthened. Had anyone told me I was useless at that point, I am convinced I would have crumpled to the ground. I hope there is someone out there on October 2nd screaming “Good job Anna! You’re looking good!”.