Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cowtown Marathon Recap

Happy Wednesday.

Sunday was a big day for me. A marathon day. A day I had hoped about and trained for for many, many months.   After the catastrophe that was the San Antonio Marathon, I had my hopes set for something much better this time around.

The alarm clock woke me up around 4:30, and after a quick bagel + banana, we were out the door.  This race is in Fort Worth, and it's a family affair.  My dad started his journey into marathoning 5 years ago with this race--and since then we've all joined in.  My brother, soon to-be sister in law, husband and I have all at some point run part of the Cowtown marathon.  We all hoped into the car, and it was off to sunrise service. Sunrise is a small worship service the home church I attended puts on every year for the runners. It's a 5:30 worship time before the race starts. For me, it's a time to calm and collect before the race. Just what I needed.

It was a perfect 40 degrees outside at the start of the race.  We had planned for Sam, Dad and I to stay together for as long as possible, or until the split.  The half splits from the full around mile 10, and I wanted to stay with Sam until then.  Early on we all felt good.  Just trying to relax and let the race come to us.  We all got separated really early on--by mile 3 I was alone and had no idea how I lost my people.  We reunited at mile 4, where my Dad was having some knee pain.  Sam and I decided to continue on. 

(Why I'm posting this horrible picture of myself, I don't know. It's one of the few pictures we have from when we saw our ppeople and said hi.)

We ran together all the way until the split.  These were fun and easy miles--we had some conversation, some laughter, and a lot of fun. It was Sam's first race and first half, and he was strong and ready all the way through.   At mile 10 we split, and with a quick kiss, he was gone.

I knew mentally this was the time where it was going to begin to be a test.  Almost immediately, the course becomes much less interesting, and the full marathon heads directly south. Into a wall of wind.  This is when all my mental preparation began to kick in.  I did everything I could to stay in the mile I was in and not let my mind wander to further miles or how many more I had to go.  

 I knew because of scheduling + family wanting to see Sam and my brother complete their halves, I wouldn't see any spectators miles 10-20.  20 was the earliest they could get the halfers + get back in the car and find me on the trail again.  These were my miles to myself to redeem the race I had in San Antonio.

For most of the race, I tried not to think.  When I did, I had pre-rehearsed lines of "Yes. Mile 16. Great"  NOT "OMG 10 more miles."  I also did a lot of "Trust your training. Your body knows how to do this."  And just a bit of "You can do this within your goal.  It's worth the pain to make the goal."  

By mile 19 I was ready to see a smiling face.  I was THRILLED to see family at mile 20.  I knew seeing them would push me the last bit.  When I saw them at 20 I said, "It's getting hard." 

The last 6 were hard.  I did a few calculations quickly and knew it was very well within reach to meet my goal time.  I let myself breathe a little and backed off, trying to force my mind anywhere but the pain. I had thought about, accepted, and moved past all the pain earlier in the week, and I'm sure glad I did.  It's impossible to run that far without pain.  It hurts.  You keep going.

Mile 23 was the hardest.  Close to the end but a lot of steps left.  At this point, knowing how proud I would be to finish within my goal kept me going.  I started making shorter and shorter visual goals for myself.  Next tree. Next water stop.  Anything to keep the legs moving.

When I saw mile 25 I knew it was happening. I knew the hard work was paying off and the goal was real.  At 26 I started crying.  Running for me is so emotional, and the tears were a constant flow until I crossed the finish line.  So much hard work, so much doubt from the last race.  I did it.  Mind, body, and soul are united for me in running.  All focused on a singular goal: and it happened.  I couldn't stop smiling and I couldn't have been happier.   Knowing my husband met his goal time as well--it didn't get better than that.  


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