Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Gift of a Marathon Moments Before a 39th Birthday

Today is my birthday.  I turned 39.

But right before this day, two days ago to be exact, I ran my first marathon and it was, well, outside of my wedding and the births of my three children, probably one of the single best experiences of my life.

This is me as I was getting in line to run the big race...

If you follow my blog, you know that I was petrified out of my mind to run a marathon.  Scared that I wouldn't be able to endure for 26.2 miles.  Afraid that I would let my friends and family down...those who had been supportive for so long.  Anxious about the pieces I had struggled with in my training, namely nutrition and the fact that the longest run is 20 miles...how would I do the other 6.2?

So, I decided to run with a pace group at a pace that I thought I could manage.  My goal was simply to finish and to cross the finish line with joy in my heart and peace in my soul.  I didn't want to hate the experience.  Secretly, I wanted to want to do it again.

And just like that after four and a half months of preparation, I lucked out in every way imaginable.  God truly blessed me beyond measure.  It was a Chamber of Commerce weather day...beautifully sunshiny with a high of 70-degrees.  My pacers were my age, with children of their own, who told funny jokes like...."Would you rather cross the finish line naked or start the race having pooped your pants?"  And then, as luck would have it, my group was just me and another super nice man, so we were taken care of the whole time.  Below is a picture of me and my pacer,  Liz (an incredible machine of positivity and encouragement) rocking it at mile 18...

So many friends and family came out to cheer me on.  It brought tears to my eyes.  They held signs, they high-fived me, they screamed my name, they sang, they danced, they took pictures with me and my 6-year old daughter Kate even ran with me.  It was so awesome to turn the corner and see someone there who loved me.

And then, just like that I found myself at mile 22. I had yet to hit a wall.  My nutrition was doing it's job.  My body was achy, but definitely not fatigued.  Crazily, I always run with music...like cranked up, ridiculously loud music, and I never once listened to my headphones the entire time.  I've never had a running partner or attempted to talk to anyone while I am huffing and puffing...this time, I talked the whole time and for a good chunk of it, it was just me and Liz.

 I just felt really good and couldn't stop giving fellow runners a big thumbs up!

And then it happened, I hit mile 25 and Liz said, "If you feel good, take off."  And so I did.  I ran the last 1.2 miles by myself into the University of Nebraska at Lincoln's stadium, waved and smiled to my family and friends and crossed the finish line.

I thought I would cry, but I couldn't stop beaming.  I never thought I would be so happy.

And what I realized is that this race was never mine alone.  I was never on a solo mission.  My husband, my children, my friends, my family were always there praying for me, loving me, believing in me, hoping for me, rooting that I could do it.
My favorite sign said, "Dreams aren't for free...go get yours!"  And that's what I did...that's really what we all do.  At some point, we decide how badly that we want it.  And if you want it more than you can imagine not having it, you will put the time, the effort, the blood, the hurt, the fear, the hope into it.  And at the end of it all, you will be better.  You will be changed.  You will be transformed.  Because dreams are for the taking.  I'm so happy that on this day, at this time, in this 39th year, this bucket list dream is mine. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Chronicle of One Woman's Marathon Journey

As I look at my watch, I'm 36 hours away from standing in line to join my pace group at my first marathon.

I've got to admit, I'm coming a little bit unglued.  No one tells you that the psychological work-up is seemingly ten times worse than the running.

So, throughout the week, I have been eternally grateful for every text, email, Facebook message, yard sign, flower bouquet, card, smile, hug, picture, and word of encouragement that so many of my dear friends and family have shared.  And I will take it with me every step, every mile, every part of my 26.2 mile sojourn.

But there's one tribute, that brought me to my knees.  A sweet friend created a chronicle of my journey...she literally retraced my steps through blog posts, Facebook updates, and compiled what for me is amazing...

Saturday, December 24, 2011
"This morning marked a milestone. I ran my first mile without walking and at a decent clip to boot."

Tuesday, January 22, 2012
"I thought I would cry when it was done. But instead, I felt elated. Hugely elated. I did it. Five miles.I accomplished something that I truly did not think that I could. I was over the moon."

Sunday, May 6, 2012 (First Half Marathon)
"If you haven't gone for one thing in your life that feels impossible...do it. The feeling will be indescribable and you will know forever that unbelievable strength lies in you."

Thursday, June 27, 2013
"And so, next May 2014, my plan is to run the Lincoln Marathon and my prayer is that I'm not that woman who lost control of her bowels and crapped herself...because really, I have enough troubles with poop at my abode."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
"You only live when you feel like dying. And just when it felt like I couldn't make another lap around the bend, my heart took me where my feet didn't want to go and suddenly, a cold, sunshiny day in January reminded me that I am alive and all is well."

Saturday, March 15, 2014
"Quit being such a pussy.  You've done harder. You've come this far. You're not going back now. This day...this run...this experience is yours and this train is going 18 miles. Get your ass on board...now."

Sunday, April 13, 2014
"As hell bent as I am in my life to thrive and to accomplish, it was in that moment that I recognized that failure has more often served me than success. The lessons I have learned when I'm on the ground writhing in pain, humiliated, fearful, regretful, angry, and frustrated have always stuck with me. And the greatest lesson has always been to get back up again."

So, as you can see...my journey has definitely not been all roses, but certainly not all lemons either.  It has been nerve wracking, exhausting, exhilarating, fraught with multiple injuries, trying, amazing and done.

I stand at the precipice of it all with feelings of fear, doubt, hope and excitement...my day is moments away and only time will tell what the end of the journey will look like.

But what I do know is that no matter what I look like, feel like or even whether or not I cross the finish line...I showed up.  I put the time in.  I tried.  And, well, at the end of the day, that's all we can do.

Here's to embracing the mantra...