Impending Race

Putting something in perspective often makes it seem like a bigger deal and a smaller deal at the same time.

This is my last evening before I leave for Chicago to run my first marathon after a little over 20 weeks of training. A training plan that, in the beginning, I wasn’t fit enough to run a continuous 5 km without stopping.  I actually couldn’t walk faster than at a 20 minute pace fresh out of physical therapy.

Last year, I trained 16 weeks for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. I got my first awards at 5k races during training. I had some of my fastest races. I ran 3 half marathon races during that training. I bonded with people through the long runs and made new friends. I got faster and ran distances with more ease than I had before. I trained so hard to accomplish the distance and conquer the mental anguish that often comes with distance running. Most of those things didn’t matter by race day. I fell on the sidewalk while walking to my kid’s bus stop to pick him up from school and my foot was too swollen to fit into my right shoe. I stood on the sidelines and cheered for people I knew on the course and even people I didn’t know. I trained 16 weeks to spectate my first marathon.

This  year, I’ve struggled through most runs. My feet and my ankles didn’t always allow me to run as far or as fast as I’d wanted to. I had things happen where I couldn’t get out and train. I almost gave up more than once. I messaged a friend and told her I was going to quit. She told me that I couldn’t quit because my resilience through it all made her believe she could one day run a marathon and I couldn’t take that away. I finally used my Facebook to ask for help from anyone who knew anything about how to get me across the finish. I had no idea who I was supposed to ask. A friend stepped up and has been giving me workouts for each week to keep me moving and has actually gotten me to the point where I believe I can go 26.2 miles. It won’t be as fast as my goal time was last year before the injury. It won’t be with the people I trained with last year [but they’re running the same race anyway]. I’ve been able to form new bonds despite my sporadic training. I have a plan. I have hope that I’m going to see the finish line and just be overcome with emotion when I cross.

Of course, I’m also a nervous wreck and have doubts. I worry that I’ll take longer than the allotted time and not get my medal. I worry about bathroom emergencies, hunger, and pretty much most of the things you can imagine going wrong while running [weather cancellation during the race, anyone]. I check the weather each day. I’ve packed my bags and I’m ready to go. I’m probably over packed at this point. It’s likely that 6 liters of water and 13 smaller water bottles might be excessive for the amount of time I’m staying. I just want it to work out this time. I can’t stand the thought of training three times for my first marathon. I don’t know if I have it in me to put all of this time in again without believing it just wasn’t meant to happen.

So, wish me luck. I’ve raised money for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and it has been an amazing journey this time around. I’m going to go visualize a finish where I do a little dance at the end and the weather in Chicago is perfect and cool.

And of course, this headband gets passed on to another person who hasn’t fully gone crazy yet:

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