The race began as well as could be expected when you find out the night before that the course is going to be much more difficult than you had expected. But even that had been a gross underestimation of the difficulty of the course. The race proved to be grueling and by far the most difficult I had ever completed, both physically and mentally. The first 13 miles were a steady incline that lead us to a summit where we turned around to run the final 13 miles back to the finish line. But by mile 20 my physical preparation had been outspent and now I was moving on sheer will power, but still I expected to finish somewhat to my satisfaction.
|My friends, Nichole and Leena who raced with me. |
For each of them, it was their first marathon.
Somewhere between miles 22 and 23, I felt sharp shooting pains coming from my hip so I decided to give myself 30 seconds and walk it out. After 30 seconds I realized the pain had increased so I gave myself permission to walk another hundred yards. Then another 100 yards, and then another. After a mile of this, I realized the pain was only getting worse and that I'd have to walk the remaining 3 miles of the race to the finish line. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. As the other runners ran past me giving encouraging remarks as I hobbled alongside the road, I wanted to sock them. I didn't want their sympathy or their well wishes. In my mind all of the weeks and hours of preparation had proven to be a complete failure. I was weak. And I had the next 3 miles of moving at excruciating slowness to wallow in that realization.
|Jasmine, Jimmy, and me. Check out the crazy colored shoes|
we were all wearing. Jimmy doesn't normally dress this
freakishly (at least I don't think he does). The race theme
As I crossed the finish line my brother, cousin, and friend who had all finished well before greeted me enthusiastically. They had all ran stellar performances and I was truly happy for them. My last several athletic events haven't gone as well as I had hoped and I had really wanted this one to be one I could be proud of, but I was more crushed than I had been in any of the others.
As we drove the long way home across the state I had to give myself time to process my feelings of disappointment. Everyone who runs distances this long knows that at some point what propels you is sheer will power, not just physical preparation. A marathon is just as much a test of mental strength as it is a test of physical strength. But I wasn't sure which one had failed at mile 22 and that's what bothered me the most. I could handle the idea of my body giving out. We all have our limits and there's only so much we can do before we cross over into the realm of stupidity as we try to cruelly push our body beyond it's capabilities. I get that. But what I couldn't come to terms with was the possibility that it had been my will power that had failed me before my body had.
I'm still not sure which of the two it was but as with all things, I realize I have to give myself permission to forgive myself. I reminded myself that failure is usually a better teacher than success. So given my track record lately, my learning curve must be exponential.
On a lighter note, I thought I'd share the following picture which shows why Dennis and I are like two peas in a pod. No, I didn't make this list for him. He made it himself and has been methodically crossing things off one at a time. I love this man.