This past Saturday, I tried and did not complete my first marathon. Wow, did I handle that poorly! There was no grace, no joy, no understanding, tolerance, or compassion. The only thought I could see, hear, and feel was failure – with a capital FAILURE. I was really angry with my wonderful friends and family when they told me they were proud of what I did accomplish (14 miles). What I heard was “I am proud of you for failing”.
Everything was going pretty good – we started out with an awesome flyover by an F-22 and P-51, and a nice cool morning. After the crowd thinned out, I starting figuring out who was around my turtle pace, and enjoyed looking around. The first hill that I fretted about was not a problem, and I was feeling good about pace. I remembered to drink at each hydration station, and was using my gel and beans on schedule. Just past mile 11 – something happened to my right ankle – whatever it was involved a lot of pain and I stepped quickly and off balance on to my left foot – triggering a different sort of pain in that ankle. I gave it a little time and moved it and stretched it. Movement hurt, but I wanted to keep going. After another mile, the pain was more insistent and making me feel pretty queasy. It was getting warmer, and the heat warning for the course was elevated to moderate. By mile 14, I was feeling really bad and was afraid to continue. So I quit. I failed. I was not a happy camper. When I got on the van to be taken back, there was one other person in the van. By the time we made it back to the finish line, there were 8 of us, and the driver was going back for another “load”.
It has taken me until today, or maybe until last evening to realize how many blessings and good things happened as well. Also, to take a good look at some possible contributing factors. I was short on sleep, and have been “enjoying” multiple stressors (both eustress and distress type) for the past two months. As a result, I found myself cutting corners on some of my cross-training activities and short runs. I quit keeping my training journal up (this makes me very sad because it is so great to go back and see how much progress I’ve made), and I let my training become work. I was really afraid that I had done something to the hardware in my ankle.
I was hellbent on making myself miserable for what was probably a good decision. But I will always wonder if I could/should have just pushed through it. It took someone asking me if I was ready to let this go – and my response was NO – and being asked when I would be ready to let it go for me to realize that I had to make that choice. It wasn’t being forced on me. After I thought about it, I realized how ridiculous I was being.
There was so much grace all around me on Saturday – and I will be back next year. A year wiser, a year stronger, and I will get to ring the PR bell!
I met so many inspirational runners – I will cherish the stories they shared with me on our journey. I will celebrate the fact that I maintained a pretty constant pace comfortable (albeit slowly) that would have had me crossing the finish line in the allotted time. I am 14 miles wiser about marathons. I am unbelievably blessed to have the wishes and encouragement of so many friends. I do feel like I let myself down – a little. I am more determined than ever to go the distance. Bill is such a wonderful source of support – he sat down with me and helped me define my goals for the next year. Pretty amazing since he had to deal with all my crazy from this last attempt. He is also my great inspiration – he finished the 10k in good time. And he still loves me. My kids taught me a lot this weekend as well. So much grace and learning in this experience. This student has much to learn.