Looking back at the year, I am truly blessed beyond measure. As always the competitor in me is never satisfied for very long though and I find moments in the race I could have done something different to improve upon the end result. This keeps me grinding day in and day out, but can also leave me drowning in a sea of disappointment.
The truth of the matter is, I battled a lot of craziness this year in my races and I faced each head on and never surrendered. I have felt such victory in the fact that I did not once wave the white flag. The gains this year have nothing to do with speed but the mentality to handle that what ifs in racing. The what ifs meaning...the worst case race scenario. The runner years ago may have bowed out but the runner today bowed my head and gritted my teeth and pressed on. With the hypothermia at Boston that just about put me out and battling the 107 heat in the Keys for 50 miles just to name a few, I dug deep to find reason and showed myself that behind tears there is one hell of a fighter. Behind the "I can't go on," was "don't you dare lay down!!!" The truth is, I'm very proud of that person that got up everyday to get myself there in not so great conditions weather wise, emotionally and physically. The successes that came along with all of it were an added bonus, but something left me unfulfilled.
With summer arriving after my last race and no races till the fall, it has left me less than unmotivated and demoralized. Being a single mom of two and managing two jobs, most times it leaves me with the ability to only get a run in during the midday hours....the hottest. My easiest runs have become harder, my recovery time feeling longer and overall feeling exhausted. Each run just searching for the whys and unable to clearly see the accomplishments from earlier in the year.
A few weeks ago, two amazing triathletes lost their home in a fire while away at Ironman. Quickly our community came together for them and this last weekend organized an all night event. Without a single moments thought, I signed up to run all 12 hours. I felt I HAD to. Since May, I had only trained for the marathon distance and had maxed my long run at 23. I definitely was not ready for 12 hours and the added bonus was it was thru the night (this I had never done). No game plan for me on this one....just RUN and RUN some more. I knew it would hurt, but the reality stood that I could go home to my bed and rest comfortably when it was over. This was a luxury they would not have and suffering for 12 hours at the end of the day really wasnt a big deal.
The first half of the night was quite enjoyable and for it being in the middle of the night I was ready to keep going. I remember seeing the sun starting to peak over the condos on the beach and thinking that I had made it and looked forward to hitting the causeway to see the beautiful vibrant sunrise colors......but then it hit. At about 51 miles in, I reached the top of the causeway and looked over the water to see the bridge we needed to be at sooooo far away. I became suddenly distraught and the pain in my legs and back ignited like fireworks. I became paralyzed by my own mind. I had already gone 51 miles and the 5 more miles I had seemed near impossible. I cried and yelled (I needed a Snickers in all reality) and I pushed Mike away. I told him maybe a dozen times to leave me on the bench and to come get me later, but Id get up seconds later and try to move a bit more. This lasted 2 more miles (forever during a breakdown) and got to a water stop where i ate some pretzels and gatorade (equal parts Snickers). It was then i was reminded why I was out there and I got up and started running again. I promised them I would run all night and I promised a bit more, so I could not let them down.
As we approached the last bridge it started to rain and by this point both of us definitely needed a Snickers. Mike couldnt even handle the early morning walkers greeting us cheerfully. Under his breath, he told each of them to shut up. The struggle was alive and well. Suddenly, coming up the bridge was a little old lady and as Mike thought she would say good morning and I expected a little old lady to be knocked out....she said, "you two are running under a rainbow." We looked back and it was the fullest most vibrant rainbow I had ever seen. Everything at that point just made sense. I woke up this morning and I felt the most fulfilled I have been all year. There was no medal, no time clock, no giant crowds, no athlinks entry, etc. It was then I felt fulfilled, it was then that I got motivated all over again. It wasnt the first time I had run for a cause. It was the fact that I watched two amazing athletes take a giant negative and still push thru an amazing finish at Ironman and punch a ticket to Kona. It was the first time I went and did something I was unprepared for and got knocked to my knees in complete despair and pressed on for something bigger than myself.
Its not always about the medals and PRs and everything that goes along with a race. A race will not always leave you feeling complete. Ive had some amazing races this year, but the thing that meant most was the one that will be placed in my heart in a shadowbox and not on my wall.
My first steps as a baby according to my parents was actually a run. At 5yrs old my dad took me to the NYC Marathon, but truth be told I had no idea why people were running down the street. All this was foreshadowing for what was to be a life of running almost 30 years later. "If opportunity doesnt knock...build a door."
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