Otherwise known as, “Hey! Did you hear? I’M A MARATHONER!”
So, other than blasting my crazy excitement for finishing 26.2 miles across social media, I was (smartly) cautioned by my coach to not evaluate my race performance, make too many judgments, or even study the metric feedback for the first couple days–and he was zipping his lips too–until my body and head were back to a place of more or less equilibrium and could fully comprehend and absorb the information.
First of all, can we take in the enormity of this first fact: 3 years ago I couldn’t walk to the end of the street and back without wanting to die. On Saturday, I ran 26.2 miles.
And there’s the first point of acceptance for me that brings me back into check. I was warned over and over in training to not set myself up with numerical goals such as pace, total time, splits, etc for a first marathon. I did this in speech, but my numbers brain tried to do some math…I was shut down in discussion in training, but I don’t think it ever shut down in my head. I had some different numbers in my mind, specifically in terms of finishing time and pace over different technical sections–and because of so many factors (and that I’m a noob at the marathon distance), of course I miserably failed at them. But–I met the #1 goal: finish a marathon.
(And let’s be crystal clear–out of any perceived “failure” or factor that went wrong, I am in absolutely, positively, not in any way possible angry or upset. It was an amazing day that I can’t possibly express in words how much finishing meant to me, an excellent learning experience, and I’m so excited to do it again!)
Friday was probably not the best planned. It started early in the morning with business in our local office, traveling with my husband for business in our other office in our coordination and doing some business errands, and then driving to Las Vegas where we capitalized on a free hotel night we had. Probably should have just stayed and rested and had a good dinner, but instead I wanted to make the most of the time we had that evening and we went to a triathlon fellowship/learning event that went late into the evening (for me, who goes to bed early) and then we had a late dinner afterwards. Not smart.
I slept okay, but not fabulous, and was up before the alarm giving myself plenty of time to get ready. I had some food that I had brought with us, but I did not plan ahead logically for breakfast to have quite enough substantial calories–that had some impact on performance at the outset I believe until my fuel during the race started to level out not only my hunger, but feeding my energy levels and such too.
We drove out to the race venue and got there a touch earlier than expected, no problem. Kissed husband goodbye and he went off for breakfast and to do some other things and would be back in a few hours to spectate at the finish. And that’s when the fun began…weather turned on a dime.
It was cool for the morning, the anticipated weather was 40 degrees at start and 60 degrees and sunny for the day…however, the ominous clouds had different plans. The temperature never rose above 40 degrees and it rained from mile 7 all the way to the finish line (and all the way on our drive home to Laughlin).
And so came the start of the race. First few miles, great. Was feeling good, was keeping an side-eye on my watch aiming to keep my top pace under a certain threshold. Oh, did I fail to mention this was a really technical race with a total of 2250ft in elevation gain? It was 13.1 miles uphill, and 13.1 miles downhill, with the exception of “the beast” from mile 21-23. I pity the ultra marathoners that ran it multiple times for their loops…
I had really wanted in training to try to make a trip up to Lovell Canyon and run part of the course prior to the race, or at least drive it to get a taste of what it would be like so I could properly visualize it. I am so happy that my schedule never allowed for it to happen–I promise you, I would not have even started this race had that been the case. I had the course and elevation maps and was properly trained on hills, but it was no comparison to reality. Other than the torture of “the beast,” I am satisfied with the amount of hill training that I had, as we live in a very hilly place and I often have a decent amount of elevation prescribed in my runs.
The wheels started to come off around mile 10. I started getting a blister (one blister being my only “war wound” of the day) and letting it get in my head that this was going to “end me” because it was still so early in the race. Now, rational me (that side is in there somewhere…) kicked in and realized all I needed to do was find a place to sit down where I could take my shoe off and just apply some RunGoo that I had in my tri-top pocket to that part of my foot to alleviate the worst of it. A couple miles later at an aid station I was able to sit on a wet cooler (it had already been raining a while at that point) and take care of it and I was fine.
From there things were plodding along…slow, but plodding along. I was FREEZING and soaking wet. Remember that high of 60 degrees? The average race temperature along the course that day was 37 degrees. I was SO cold, and that contributed greatly to my significantly slower than anticipated pace. When I’m cold, my muscles seize up and my body just doesn’t want to move. You’d think running, you’d be warm…wrong-o! Between the weather and being soaked to the bone, there was no chance that I was warming up.
I swore around mile 15 or so I was hallucinating when I saw my husband drive up, but no, it was real, and it was the greatest blessing of the day!!! He gave me some much needed encouragement and found some work gloves in his bag that I could wear to help at least try to warm up my hands. He kept driving forward and was waiting every mile or so for anything that I needed, and always a much needed cheerleading session. Even when the gloves he had given me were soaked through, he pulled a (clean) pair of wool socks out of his overnight bag that I wore on my hands for a few miles just to try and get warm. As I got closer to finish, I was able to chuck things in the car too like my headphones that had died, my handheld bottle since I had flasks on belt, etc, which made things easier too. I am so grateful for my husband. I hate that I wonder this, but if he didn’t show up and do everything he did for me that day, I have to question if I would have finished–or at least finished as strongly.
And then came the finish line. I was sobbing before I even crossed it. It brings tears to my eyes still to think about that moment. Sure, it took my longer that I thought it “should,” the weather was miserable, and a boatload of other stuff…but it had come. I did it. I ran 26.2 miles. No one can take that away from me.
I have spoken in conversation that I felt like my very first half marathon was my most memorable athletic achievement so far, and I think I still believe that. The completion of a marathon…it’s different. It was incredible, absolutely, I’ll never forget it–it was more emotional that I think I possibly even anticipated it to be at the end, but the meaning that it holds is a different kind of achievement–it’s one of learning and endurance, and proving to myself what is possible, what my body can take, and how much farther I can go. And will go.
I don’t think I could possibly begin to list in detail all the many lessons that came from this experience. I learned technical things, the areas of mental and physical strength that are still weak, things about myself, and things about humanity (mainly stupid drivers on an open course, but also how incredible and encouraging other athletes can be to one another). I see why the marathon is a endurance feat all its own. And I can’t wait to look at those lessons and apply them to training for the next one. Because I can’t wait for the next one…how does six months sound? I’m coming for you Chicago!!!
I have been truly overwhelmed by the love and reactions that I’ve received on the social media posts I’ve made too. I can’t begin to tell you in the overwhelm and nerves leading up to the day how much the encouragement bolstered my confidence, and then in the after to be able to share my sheer praise to God and joy with the world. Yes, it can appear some days to border on the edge of narcissism, but I also know from private feedback that my sharing is important to other people’s journey too–and we need each other in life, so I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. As the saying goes, “you do you,” and if you don’t like it…scroll on…or as some have done, go as far as blocking me. (I’m sooo not delving into that right now other than backing up to my firm stance I’ve always held: if you have a problem, let’s talk about it together. I have a lot more respect for an open conversation than passive aggressive behavior)
In the days since the race, I have felt surprisingly better than I expected–I truly expected to be the marathon horror stories of those that basically crawl for the next week. The next day I even wore my uniform heels at church! My feet weren’t so happy after that move…but I did. Sunday I wasn’t too sore, just moved pretty slowly. Monday the same, until I had two hours of bodywork done–then I wanted to die once I had all those muscles worked out. Woke up Tuesday feeling much better, feeling great, just a little bit of tightness remaining in my hips. Today…well…it was my first recovery run. It wasn’t pretty, but it was also my coach proving a point to me about recovery. I don’t feel sore or anything, but in motion like that, my legs were pretty much lead. Time…
But, rest and recovery aren’t docile actions, because I’ve still got goals, and a sprint triathlon coming up in 38 days. I’m back on the bike tomorrow for some light workouts this week, aiming to hit open water swim this weekend, and we’ll see what next week brings once I get the full calendar for that.
At the end of the day, and everything that went down to get to the finish line, the one thing I know for sure…I. Am. A. Marathoner.
Welcome to one of my pre-scheduled freakout sessions. Through the mental toughness training that I have been building upon with my coach that gets applied to racing, I actually have assigned time frames this week for which I am allowed to meltdown and flip out, and then when it’s over, it’s time to suck it up and get back to reality and real life. Or if you’re also doing The Sufferfest’s 30 Day Yoga Challenge right now, you’re also on day 17 and accustomed to hearing at the end of every video, “and now you can move back into your day.” Same principle, but without a badge at the end…although, I do get a medal providing I don’t die so…
I can officially say this has been an awful week. Not a darn thing to do with running, just life hasn’t followed it’s pretty perfect plan. So, it’s been very frustrating. Then add on top of it modified workouts that aren’t my normal routine (quite light), but I’m ravenously hungry and eating more but not everything not nailed down–yet. I’m exhausted. I’m supposed to be getting more sleep, and I’m getting to bed on time, but I’ve been waking up at weird hours through the night and then having a hard time dragging myself out of bed, which it not my usual behavior. So, everything coupled together….I’m cranky, hungry, and tired.
I’m also super excited and terrified at the same time.
Race day plan is locked and loaded. I’m as ready as I’m going to get (oh, and no live tracking and notes from the race director say that cell service is spotty, so just don’t expect news until the end/as we head towards post race food in civilization if you follow my social media). At this point there’s nothing more I can do in order to get ready but show up on the start line and run my best.
I. Can’t. Wait.
There’s three mantras that keep me going and come into play at different parts of the race. I’ve trained so I will know what my body will feel like at all points, I know what to expect and how to deal with the unexpected.
Okay, time to get back to work and shut off this side of my brain again for the moment. It’s a good thing. I can do this. I will do this. I’ll see you at the finish line.
I’m not even sure how to explain this in a way to not discourage people from being an encouragement, but I’m going to try…so bear with me. Yes, this is a selfish blog post.
We’re down to the single digit countdown to marathon day. In the midst of the crapton (scientific term) of responsibilities that life holds right now, I’m trying to hold it together to not let my head get stuck in the enormity of this body running 26.2 miles. Impending meltdowns are possible. (Because I’m not going to lie…there *may* have been a few teary runs and a few long drives where this may have already been proven…not in fear, but in the overwhelm and awesomeness of the realization that this is happening)
As the game gets upped quickly, I need to just put this out there on what’s not helpful. I’m not saying this is the case for all people, but for me and my particular headspace at this time, it’s where I’m at…if you don’t know what to say to me in encouragement of this endeavor, don’t say anything! PLEASE!!! (Sounds negative, but for those that don’t comprehend the marathon distance coupled with the stigma of size, there’s a lot that’s being said to me in “encouragement” that people don’t realize is flat out fat-shaming) People of all sizes, backgrounds, etc run all the time. I didn’t just wake up one morning and make this happen, so please stop looking at me like I have three heads when I tell you what I’m going to do. I’ve put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears–quite literally–into getting this far in my athletic ability. Without the tangent of probably a completely different blog post, I can’t even begin to tell you how important it is that I can sit here and tell you that I’m proud of myself and I haven’t even crossed the start line yet! (me and proud from my mouth don’t enter the same sentence…ever…)
Besides, um, running, there’s actually a lot of training that goes into a marathon. There’s strength training, cross-training, looking at fueling for endurance and race-day nutrition, and there’s even a lot of mental strength training and adaptation that goes into it too. They are all intentional, calculated, and measured efforts that have raised me to the physical ability to complete this task at hand. I am forever grateful to those in my arsenal that have gotten me to this point, because I sure wouldn’t be ready of my own volition.
I. Can’t. Wait.
There’s a very specific taper and race plan that starts with a 5k I’m running this weekend that continues beyond the marathon finish line on March 10. It details my sleep, my workouts, my mental training exercises, the influences I will expose my mind to, my food intake*, and oh, yeah, on top of it–a full week of work and normal responsibilities (Thank God, I need the distraction!).
In my past races, I’ve made different updates and things as I go…not going to happen this time. Different headspace. I’m not sure if there’s live tracking for this race, it’s a small race series, and I haven’t heard all the details yet. So, if there is, I’ll pass the details to those so inclined to follow me through the day. I also have no clue in this area if there’s even cell reception the whole route! My focus is the race plan, proper fueling, monitoring the “big three” (the only agreed upon reasons I can DNF), and HAVING FUN!!! I want to be totally present in this experience so I can savor that finish line because…
It’s not about me.
This race is a celebration. It’s a milestone. It’s another chance to step back and say, “Look what God has done!” If you think for one darn second, any of this has been of my own volition, you’re sorely mistaken. God first. Sure, I’ve put in the physical effort…but it’s been a constant effort of prayer, of discovery, of discernment, of wrestling with God on things so much bigger than putting one foot in front of the other. Three years ago when I was almost 200lbs heavier and couldn’t walk up the street and committed my obedience to God, did I ever dream this was where I was headed? HA! Nope. But I wouldn’t trade one second of it. What God has done in me is nothing short of my own personal miracle…I’m still learning to see myself as He sees me, working on being that reflection of Him that’s honoring to His creation–I have a lot of work to do, a lot of goals still to accomplish, and God’s not done with me yet. His plans are pretty amazing.
Anyway, I digress. As I do my best not to retreat into a bundle of counterproductive nerves and hibernation over the next week, just remember to offer grace to the high-strung (LOL). Wait…that’s my usual behavior…I promise, I’ll be back to myself soon. Like after my post-marathon massage already blacked out on my calendar for my day off the Monday after. (My momma didn’t raise no fool!)
Let’s marathon, Baby. See you at the finish line.
*simmer down intuitive eaters…by monitoring food intake on race week, it has nothing to do with restriction or quantity, but there are concepts of gentle nutrition applied in my personal situation that helps my body perform at its best–and that looks different for every single person. Happy to elaborate more on that another time.
So, I had a lovely and beautiful friend bring up one of those “myth of the meme” quotes yesterday and likened it to my journey, with the explanation to another person that this was how I’ve achieved my weight loss thus far. The quote…
You can’t outrun a bad diet.
My friend (whom I love), tried to use me as the converse example of this quote, in that my habits show you can outrun your fork.
Nope. Let’s break this down.
I’d be remiss in not saying that please remember, these are my experiences, I am not a professional and do not constitute my opinion for medical advice. You have to remember, I didn’t come to all this fount of knowledge on my own grey matter alone–I’ve taken classes, done homework, I have a triathlon coach, I utilize a registered sports dietitian, I consult my physician, and I have lots, and lots of others that I engage in conversation and work this stuff out with. I’m not smart enough on my own to come up with this stuff, and I try and fail–a lot!
At the end of the day, can I explain in a quippy meme how I’ve lost weight? Absolutely not. It comes right back around to the holistic journey. It’s the shoring up all areas of my spiritual, mental/emotional, and physical health for the glory of God’s creation….well, actually, maybe I can sum it up in a quote, this one comes from Lysa TerKeurst, “So, I’m not on a diet. I’m on a journey with Jesus to learn the fine art of self-discipline for the purpose of holiness.” Food and exercise only fall into that one leg of physical holistic wellness…there’s still a larger portion of the rest of me to keep in check too than just those two tiny components!
As I mentioned before in my previous post on intuitive eating, check out the book, Intuitive Eating (Tribole & Resch). There’s also some other great resources out there too:
Body Kindness (Book and Podcast by Rebecca Scritchfield)
*Nutrition Matters (Podcast by Paige Smathers)
Food Psych (Podcast by Christy Harrison)
*Love, Food (Podcast by Julie Duffy Dillon)
Hope that clears a few things up!
….and hundreds came back with their stories of positivity and encouragement to build up the victim of the abuse. This was my #forChris story that I posted in a closed group, but the message is bigger than that, and the need to build each other up and not tear each other down is always relevant, always important, and always needs to be shared.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are less than the amazing and beautiful person that God uniquely created you–yes, you–to be.
A few minutes ago, I just finished sharing with an accountability friend our daily gratitude, and today’s topic was the provision that we are most grateful for…I’ve shared this before on this platform, but it’s absolutely the ability that we have to (mostly) work out our own schedules. It is an interesting dynamic with the 24/7 nature of ministry and the fine balance of time with God, work, family, personal time, balancing the expectation’s of others (this is an unfortunate reality when you deal with people as a leader that I’m not expounding on here), and the routines that come along with having multiple staffs in multiple cities that do punch clocks and having to be present for them physically or virtually at varying levels.
Since weekends don’t really exist on our world other than usually just a Saturday filled with the to-do’s, I have promised my husband for years that I would start to take a weekday off. 2018 is going to be that year, and Mondays are going to be my day for consistency sake. And I already can’t fulfill that promise yet, at least for this week. I can’t control how life happens. I won’t work all day, but there’s some meetings and items I have to attend to because of unexpected that cannot be pushed to the next day. So, we adapt. I came home a couple hours early yesterday and we had a long overdue date and saw a great movie and had a wonderful dinner together. (We just won’t mention the call that came in that time that necessitates me having to go into the office later this morning to take some action because it cannot wait until Monday…life happens, we roll…)
Regardless of how the chips fall in the hours and minutes of the day, I’m still grateful for that flexibility. I have a lot of freedom in determining how and when things get done (within reason–there’s still deadlines, accountability, and responsibility), but I don’t have the rigidity of a 9-5 time clock. I can interweave errands into my day. I can take a break and go have coffee or lunch and visit with a church member, friend, community member, or someone that just wants to talk. I can hop on my bike in my office and wreck my legs for a little while to get some frustration out (and now that all the doohickeys have arrived, I think actually properly set up the training sessions!). I can come in later if I need to–or the crack of dawn. I can leave early–or stay late into the evening. It’s all in finding the balance.
We talked in our women’s ministries group this week about different ways of being a witness in our daily lives, and part of my presentation was showing the different ways of showing how to be a light on the internet. It’s not about filling your Facebook feed with Jesus, Jesus, Jesus 24/7…but living a reflection of Christ. Being available (and that doesn’t mean dropping everything and come running, always being at home/in your office/physically present every solitary second that someone operates on a whim–there’s a difference). We spoke of and saw all the different avenues available in person, in print, on the phone, online, and social media to take part in being a witness, but spoke of the importance of what we are reflecting. Being real and honest will attract far more to the image of God than a feed filled with “like and share if you love Jesus” memes. And far more of our witness online is what happens beyond the public screen.
When we’re real and honest (no matter how ugly it looks some days), people take notice. They want to know what is different and they want to know how they can get it in their own lives. That’s when the door opens. That’s where the conversations start. And it’s not in the public comment box–it’s in private/direct messages or emails and then ultimately phone calls or direct meetings. It’s building upon the seeds that we plant wherever we go.
Balance. I spend a lot of time online simply because of our work–online databases for social services, reporting, financial programs, etc…it’s unavoidable. So, the few minutes here and there to break it up is to take a scroll, to make a silly post, to post a picture, to comment… To be real with what’s going on in my life because maybe it’s going to make a difference in someone else’s.
Do I live under the delusion that I’ve got it figured out, that I’m some kind of example? Pffft. NO! I’m an imperfect person saved by the grace of God. I’ve got a lot to learn. I make mistakes. Daily. I own up to them. I correct them. I learn. I live. I love. And I have fun while doing it. I endeavor to better myself for the Glory of God in all that I do. I strive to repair the damage I have done to my body that is not honoring to God’s creation, but only according to His will.
Now, if you’ll excuse me…I’m going to have my cup of coffee to lick my wounds for missing AM long run to go discipline…maybe if the weather, my sore throat, and the stars align later today, I’ll get to my priorities!
And it so happens to be New Year’s Day. It’s been a good day–slept in until 8:30am (I know, that’s like sleeping the day away for me since I get up at 4am!), went for a phenomenal short run where I smashed some PRs showing me that I do have the potential for improvement to reach some of my crazy goals for this year, went out for a quick meal with the hubby, and now I’m just catching up on laundry and getting ready for the week ahead.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve got a lot of goals that are always in play, so the need for resolutions is moot. My physical goals are quite real–I’m just over sixty days away from my first full marathon. I have five big races for 2018 (was six, but Ragnar is back on the bucket list, boo! We didn’t fill our van from dropouts by the deadline, but I’m going to volunteer at Oceanside 70.3 instead that weekend.)…there may be one or two smaller ones in there. We’ll see… I have other physical goals too from some of the studying that I’ve been doing in training, as well as several mental and spiritual goals too. It’s going to be a big year.
It’s been a rough few weeks and there’s been so much doubt, discouragement, frustration, and ugly that I’m not going to elaborate on here that has been stacking on my shoulders. It’s not really over, but it will get better, one way or another. God’s got it handled. Just keep moving forward. Yesterday in church we spent some time in reflection–looking at the previous year, spending some time considering our intentions for the year ahead, and my husband preached a sermon that really hit me in the gut on finding peace in the midst of where God has us and pushing forward. Good stuff.
I may have my goals and intentions, but God’s in control. It’s been a wild ride this last almost three years on this journey, I can’t wait to see what’s up next. I would imagine this year also would include hitting 200lbs (maybe 250?) down, and some growth and development in other ways I can’t even possibly even imagine yet. There will be more updates, more twists and turns….I’ve got ideas. Stay tuned, it should be interesting.