Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Last Race of the Year

Over the course of the year, I have had the privilege of running 18 events for a dear friend, Becky. Last year she was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. I will remember the day her daughter, Jessica called me, my heart sunk like a lead balloon. And as the weeks began in her fight I knew I had to do something too. I came up with the idea of running one event for every week of chemo she would have to endure. Anything went from duathlons to 5K to triathlons to half marathons and we would end with a full marathon. Jessica and I set out on a mission to bring awareness to a deadly disease to do our part of the fighting of pacing her to the finish line. Last Sunday we laced up our shoes once again to hit the road for our last 26.5 miles.

I came into the race under trained because of my own struggles throughout the training season with my family but I had committed to doing this so I was hoping to pull on past races to be able to dig deep from strength the dwells in me and I was very thankful of having a great friend run beside me as well as having others cheer us on. I wasn't nervous all week but something was off, I was stressed or unbalanced, worried that I would be that last one in on the pickup truck as they pick up the road closure signs. And yet I wanted to finish in a time period. I want that good first marathon time. Ridiculous. I mean any marathon finish is a good time because you finished. Right? Jessica and I had put a lot of time in encouraging each other when we needed it. And I'm thankful I had someone by my side through the whole thing!

That morning we woke up in Tulsa and started making preparations. I was out of my "normal" race routine and preparation but I was going through the flow. We left to go down for a big group photo all the while I was trying to maintain a good attitude a free feeling laid back it is what it is attitude and I was doing pretty good until someone mentioned a time cut off. Ugh, there goes my mindset. It went down hill and I don't think I ever shook it. So here is a helpful hint: don't talk about cut offs minutes before a race start. You don't know how your words affect other people's mental game. I had none. Now I know I shouldn't have let it affect me but I think I was more worried than I thought, more stressed out than I thought and that was the final straw so to speak.

Anyway, the first half of the marathon went well. I even came across a bar/restaurant with my maiden name. It was like my family was with me along the way:

We walked a little around mile 8 because my knee started bothering me but we continued on and had a great half marathon time. I felt good, I felt powerful. We were having fun, cheering others as we passed them. I would have to say it might have been one of the most quiet runs we have ever been on together. I just didn't have communication in me......
Neither one of us have ran this before. We had heard it was hilly, and that was an understatement!!! Some where along here I started falling apart. Jessica did her best to encourage me but I felt like I was holding her back. I told myself just to make it to the center of the universe. I was having to take more walk breaks by this time. My legs just felt like lead. I was trying all my tricks. Eat more and drink more but I just couldn't shake my mood. Finally, we made it to the center!

From this point on it was all mental. My legs just continued to feel like lead. We walked more and I watched our good time disappear. And I felt that I was holding Jessica back. I even told her multiple times to go on if she wanted but she stuck with me. And I can't say how grateful I am for that! I was trying to tell her mentlly to tell me a story to keep my mind off of the race but I just didn't have the words. I had kept Jim informed of where we were at along the way. He tried to meet us towards the end but I told him just to go to the finish line. He said we are at the last hill. So as we turned onto 21st street Jessica and I kept that in mind as we climbed hill after hill. And then we finally saw them and our boys! It was the push I needed to finish, even if it was just done the hill and around the corner. Tears fell instantly, we had finally done it!

It was an experience I will never forget.And although we didn't finish under 6 hours we did finish in 6:12 which is so much better than I thought we did. Again I so grateful to have experienced with a great friend (and all my other peeps) for a great lady!