It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.
That quote, so eloquently and passionately asserted by Tom Hanks during A League of Their Own, is the most succinct way to describe my 11th marathon, the Cleveland Marathon. It was that mentality that got me through what has become one of the greatest mental, physical, and emotional challenges of my life. It's upon accomplishing hurdles that seem so bleak and insurmountable that something you didn’t even know existed in you shines. Some may call it your inner spirit, some may call it your soul, and some may even call it the incarnation of God. Regardless of what you call it, always have faith in yourself that it’s there, and it’s the challenging moments in our life that allow it to manifest. Okay, so what happened this time around that has me thinking this deep on a sunny Sunday afternoon? Let’s go back to the beginning…
If you have been following my scarcely updated blog or frequently updated Twitter account, you likely know that I’ve dedicated the CLE Marathon to a charity that has become very dear to me, Wigs For Kids. I was fortunate enough to be able to raise $3,096 and donate over 15” of my hair! My initial goal was to raise $1,800 and to donate 12” of my hair, so exceeding it was beyond my expectations. When I set my goal, I was very nervous that I might not be able to reach it, and was SO overcome with emotion when I realized I was able to do it! The amount of support I received through the kind words, prayers, and monetary donation from so many was overwhelming. I learned that anything is possible with good intentions, hard work, and a positive network of people to support you. I’m SO grateful to have been able to do what I did for Wigs for Kids, and I hope I was able to inspire others to do the same! There is more to come about this experience in my next blog post. :-)
I used a Greg McMillan custom designed training plan to prepare for what I expected to be the easy part of my journey, the marathon. Prior to this marathon, I’ve successfully collected 10 marathon medals. Each marathon was a distinctly different experience, even on repeated courses, but I never doubted my ability to finish. My goal was to finish the CLE Marathon in 3:10, and my training leading up to the marathon was getting me there. I was nailing every work out, feeling healthy, having fun with the variety, and ran a pretty solid half marathon at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in D.C. I finished 1:31:25, and was the 47th overall finisher out of 15,000. I didn’t P.R., but had the most amazing 13.1 experience! It was an all-girl event (although there were some guys that ran it, too) and Nike totally nailed every aspect of it. The Tiffany's necklace finisher medal was just the icing on the cake. The best part of the experience was running next to Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit-Samuelson! I even got the chance to talk to them! They took part in the event, just “jogging” it…which turned out to be my race pace! Lucky me!!! I was running on air the entire race. It was an amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity. I felt great crossing the finish line, and was confident that the remaining 3 weeks of my training would get me to my goal. I had no idea that some old health issues were brewing and about to sneak back up on me in the worst way…
|NikeTown party time!! :-D|
|Beautiful start line!|
|Yep, that's me upfront in the pink!|
|With our Tiffany's necklace finisher medals!!|
So, what happened? I'll try to be brief: 2 weeks out, I was still running strong, but anxiety started taking over. I wasn’t sleeping through the night, stepped back from 3:10 to 3:12 as my finishing goal, and was just super busy in my personal and professional life. I was reaching the point of exhaustion trying to manage everything. Then, on the Thursday 10 days out from CLE, I was on my way to Chipotle. I just didn’t feel right, and felt this overwhelming sensation in my body that I was going to pass out. It's hard to explain in words...it's the strangest feeling. I called my sis to save me, did not pass out, but also did not sleep sound that night. Something just felt “off” and I couldn’t figure out why or what to do to try to fix it. 8 days out I had my final long run. Again, I just did NOT feel right and had this fuzzy, jittery feeling that I was going to pass out. My legs felt dead and I was SO wound up. I couldn’t calm myself down. Running has always been the thing to chill me out, and now it was just stressing me out. I cut my long run down to 10 miles, hoping that extra rest is what I needed. Later that day, I drove down to Marietta for the weekend for my brother's graduation. I was doing everything I could to relax, but it was near impossible. Too much was flowing through my head, and I couldn't let go.
|With the whole family at our Lil Bro's college graduation!|
Then, just 6 days out from the marathon, what I feared most happened to me for the 3rd time in my running career...
...to be continued...