Sunday, September 30, 2012

Attempting to run a marathon

I don't know if I'm ready to talk about this yet.  It's easy to say that I came close and I did more than a lot of other people and I tried hard and gave it my best but the fact remains, I didn't finish.  I trained hard and I ran a lot of miles and I tried to make sure I was prepared but still, I didn't finish. 

I remember watching my mom iron my dad's shirts once and asking her if it was annoying to have to iron all those shirts for him and she said, "only if I think about it".  Which made me smile.  But I get it. 

If I don't really think about what I didn't accomplish, then it's not a big deal that I didn't finish.  I can feel good about the accomplishments I had along the way.  I ran 20 miles on a training run and felt great!  I ran 22 miles on the day of the marathon! 

But when I really examine my feelings about the marathon, the one thing that stands out the most is that I didn't finish. 

The course was beautiful, the weather was mild and cloudy.  I was trying to drink water and stay hyrdrated and I had lot of GU (energy gel) packets.  But somewhere around mile 14, I started to not feel great.  My stomach was kind of rolling and when I tried to have some GU, it didn't go down very easy.  I tried to drink more water but still kept stopping to walk.  I'd get a burst of energy and run for a few minutes and then walk again.  I kept thinking it was mental and I just needed to push through.  I tried GU again with the same results.  Ick.  Then, about halfway through mile 21, I started feeling a tingly sensation in my arms and legs and knew that wasn't good.  I told the girls to go on without me and they asked if I wanted them to flag down a car and I said yes.

There was an ambulance ahead so we went there and they asked if I needed to go to a hospital or if I wanted a ride back to the finish and I said a ride back would be fine.  My friends went on ahead (after repeated assurances that I would be fine and they should go- they did not want to leave me behind).  I waited for a car with the EMT's and they checked my pulse, which was on the slow side.  I sat down on a cooler and then the car came.  I went to stand up and apparently, I went really white and almost passed out.  At that time, the EMT's decided to give me a ride in the ambulance and I was just glad someone else was calling the shots because I didn't like how I was feeling and just wanted to feel better. 

They took me to the medic tent and after a few attempts, finally got an iv started.  I laid there and listened to the people around me and wondered how my friends were doing.  A little bit later, I heard someone say that yes, Angie Hall was in the tent, but no, they could not come in.  And I smiled and couldn't wait to get out to find them.  The iv was almost done and I was feeling pretty good (just freezing!) so they unhooked me and helped me sit up and then stand.  I walked out and saw my friends and got hugs and heard about their finish and got some food (I was so hungry!) and shivered because I was still freezing and walked back to the car.  I was so happy for them and so happy that I was feeling better and so happy it was all over. 

We went back and showered (and I was so happy to have a warm shower) and then got some more food (so happy to be eating again!) and we had fun hanging around.  I wasn't too sore and joked about running another one soon while I was still in shape because I wanted to cross that finish line.  I wasn't too upset about not finishing but didn't really think about it.  I figured I was just handling things really well. 

After we got home, I started to see people who knew I was planning to run a marathon.  And all of a sudden, my story sounded really lame.  "I felt okay and ran 2/3 of it and then started feeling bad and went back in an ambulance.  I don't really know what happened.  But I'll try again!"  I just wanted to hide for awhile.  Because instead of being someone who ran a marathon, I was someone who tried but didn't succeed. 

I had high hopes of trying again in June but it was really hot that weekend.  Since I'm fairly sure that dehydration was the culprit for my first failed attempt, I didn't think it'd be good to add heat when I tried again.  So I decided to run the one in our hometown that was supposed to be on a nice, flat course.  How cool would that be?  Support from friends and family, running in the fall, training on the actual course - sounded perfect. 

Then I found out the course wasn't flat.  At all.  And I was having trouble staying motivated for the training runs.  And I got really nervous about trying again and failing.  So now I am setting it aside for another time, maybe next year.  And I'm wondering if I didn't handle it as well as I thought.  I'm thinking there might be some issues going on subconsicously with me and running.  I need to make it something that is for me, not for anyone else.  It's great to run with friends but it needs to be something I will do even if no one is out there with me.  If I can't do that, maybe I don't want it bad enough. 


lidija. said...

just so you know- you attempted something that seems entirely insurmountable to me. You trained, and went face to face with a "beast" of a run. i understand what you mean by wanting to hide because you didn't succeed- but look at how many people have never even tried (me). You are in an elite club already. i think if you want to try it again you'll have people encouraging you. If you decide not to try a full marathon again, i don't think anybody would ever pass judgement on you. Good for you for being honest about your feelings! xo

Krista Dean said...

Something to think about...why do you run?

I ran my first and only 5k three years ago, with a buddy. It started out with an invitation by her to come and walk her property (80 acres) and do something healthy for ourselves. She knew having the accountability of someone showing up at her doorstep would get her moving. It worked both ways because I knew she was expecting me.

I had been impressed by two girl cousins who had been running ;) and always wondered if I would like it if I could get passed the initial pain. So, I proposed to my buddy an idea. "Let's do the 'couch to 5k' program" and run a race.

It took us twelve weeks instead of nine and during the training we both agreed it was horrible but felt so proud of ourselves for doing something that was good for us. We ran our race, her time was respectable, I had speed walkers beat me. But we did it. Neither one of us had any desire to do something bigger. We had determined that we just needed to keep moving. Thats why we ran.

A back injury flared up for me and I had to quit running. I also quit meeting her for walks. This fall she invited me to start walking with her again, once again knowing that neither one of us would do it if we didn't have an accountability partner. And so we are back at it. Just walking this time, but for the same reason. We want to be healthy and know we are more successful when we have a buddy.

My point is, it's okay if you need to be motivated by a group of friends to accomplish something that you want to do. I don't think of it as a weakness, but a strength, to recognize that I need encouragement and I can encourage in return. Relationships depend on it.

So, wether you are running to achieve a personal goal that you need to do on your own, or to enjoy the fellowship of doing something healthy with friends, it's AWESOME that you're doing it. Be proud of what you have achieved, and once you have decided why you run, pick a new goal and work for it.

BIG hugs! I'm still impressed...