What I learned From Running 26.2

I meant to write this recap yesterday, but I’m really glad I waited until today. It’s long, just warning you!

The race was amazing and hard and emotional and rewarding and painful and an experience that I will never, ever forget.

Saturday, the day before the race, didn’t exactly go as planned. My parents came, which was awesome. I always love seeing them, and my mom brought me a charm bracelet and told me two charms are coming later – one for 13.1 and one for 26.2! I can’t wait to wear it.

Later, I checked into the hotel that I’d signed up for with TNT only to find that there was a single bed to share with my roommate, who I didn’t know and had never talked to. As I’m not a particularly private person, I would have probably been fine just sharing the bed, but she left a note saying she’d called about a rollaway and we could talk later.

I was late to the inspiration dinner, so I missed out on the cheering and the non-dairy food, but I did get to hear all the speeches so it was worth it. The dinner ended early, about 7:30, and I was faced with going back to a rollaway bed by myself when I decided I was just going to go home. I went to the hotel, grabbed my stuff, and left a note saying that neither of us deserved to sleep on a rollaway the night before a race. I got home, ate some pasta, hung out with my family and went to bed. It was a more stressful day than I’d hoped, but part of that was due to the fact that I was all keyed up from pre-race anxiety!

Race day started with breakfast (overnight oats with peanut butter) and finding the bus to take us to the start.

Hi mom and dad!

I had been nervous about public transit, which was one of the reasons I originally opted to stay in the hotel, but it ended up being a breeze.

Rachel and Luis met me before the race, and brought me an amazing gift:

I am starting to cry just thinking about this. Rachel got all of my friends and family to sign this poster or send a note for her to write. Reading all the encouraging notes was the perfect pre-race motivator.

The energy at the start line was amazing.

Julia and I cruised along as the sun came up, passing beautiful San Francisco landmarks like the Ferry Building and the Golden Gate. The weather was perfect; I didn’t even need warm ups in the morning, but it didn’t get hot either.

Alex and my family were at mile 15 and mile 21.

I also want to give a shout out to Julia’s boyfriend Luke who ran all over San Francisco, completing his own race, to meet up with us at various points and cheer us on.

Expecting to hit the wall between mile 19 and mile 21, I positioned my family at a point where I thought I’d need the most support. Except I felt great at mile 21; I wasn’t sprinting, but I felt strong and happy.

Then something changed. I started to pull ahead of Julia. I don’t think she slowed down, so I must have sped up. It wasn’t intentional AT ALL – my body seemed like it was on auto pilot. Every time I tried to slow it down, it would just start to drift forward again, momentum carrying me along.

Unfortunately, running alone after 23 miles of having constant support doesn’t go so hot. I broke, crying off and on through miles 23 and 25. Julia caught up with me and was so amazing and encouraging. Then my breathing started to go – perhaps due to the increased speed, coupled with residual effects of the pneumonia. I had to stop every 2 minutes or so, because my lungs would seize, and I’d have to bend over and breathe deeply. At a mile away from the finish, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.

Then our coach, Gigi, found us, and thank goodness. I told Julia to go, she deserved to get the finish she had worked so hard for without waiting for me. She took off (so proud of you girl!!!) and Gigi ran me almost all the way to the finish, reminding me to breathe, not judging me for crying, and just being a compelete inspiration.

I crossed the finish line, tears rolling down my face, sort of incoherent. A fireman in a tuxedo handed me my little blue box from Tiffany with the finisher necklace and I stumbled around the finish line, wrapped in a mylar blanket, chocolate chip cookie in hand looking for my family.

Unfortunately parking hassles made them just miss me at the finish, but I had assumed they were there, so it didn’t matter (to me) that they actually weren’t.

Celebratory pictures ensued.

We did it!!! No way could I have finished the race without Julia – I never would have made it through training or the race if I hadn’t had her to cheer me on and encourage me.

And then I took my shoes off. Oi vey. We made a quick trip here:

where they lanced one blister, and informed me I was going to lose one toenail. Awesome. I felt pretty hard core.

My wonderful friends Trent and Shelly also met me at the finish along with Alex and my parents. Having them there to support me in my emotional stupor meant so much, I can’t thank them enough.

Why am I cracking up?

Ridiculous.

I oscillated between feeling alright to feeling pukey for the next few hours. I ate when I felt like it, sucked on ice chips, drank water and sports drink, and tried to have coherent conversations.

I was also spending a lot of time beating myself up for pulling ahead of Julia, even though it was never my intention to speed up, and she had absolutely no bad feelings about it. I was bummed not to cross the finish line with her, I was mad that instead of feeling great at the end I felt like crap, and I felt like I had let people down by not finishing strong.

Finally today I realized that I ran a marathon – 26.2 miles – something I never thought I could do.

After not running for 5.5 weeks and having pneumonia. And not only that, I kicked ass for 23 miles and only floundered at the end. I made one amazing new friend and met many others that I hope can become good friends over time. Friday nights were sacrificed for Saturday morning runs. Ice baths were a regular occurrence. I raised thousands of dollars for cancer research.

In other words, instead of feeling guilty and depressed, I should have been recognizing the amazing accomplishment of running a marathon. I should have been enjoying the feeling of following through on something big that required me to really go outside my comfort zone. I’m usually a really good follower, but not the best at striking out on my own. But I joined Team in Training because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this.

Running this marathon was one of the hardest, if not the hardest, things I have ever done. But it was also one of the best. Wearing my necklace today, and hobbling around, reflecting on this process and yesterday’s race, brought me close to tears multiple times. I did it! I made it through! I honestly didn’t think I ever would.

And I wouldn’t – couldn’t – have, without the support of Alex, Julia, my amazing family, all the friends that helped me fundraise and supported me through my training, all the readers who sent good energy my way, and everyone in Team in Training, especially Gigi, who  never stopped believing in me.

And yeah, I’m already thinking about next year, but for now I’m going to bask in the glory of this run, this race, and stretch the heck out of my IT band.

 

 

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “What I learned From Running 26.2

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s