Wednesday, December 8, 2010

From Excruciating to Extraordinary

Six months of training completed.  Hundreds of miles logged.  Thousands of calories consumed.   It all came down to three minutes.

I woke up Sunday morning with what felt like a Tyson / Ali fight going on inside of my stomach.  I was a ball of nerves and although I tried my best to get ample rest, by 3:45 a.m., I couldn't sleep any longer.  The blood was surging through my veins as my adrenaline increased with each passing minute.

Determined to NEVER have another Poop marathon, I drank two extra bold cups of coffee took ample measures to ensure a repeat of last year's marathon would not ever happen again.  I ate my waffle with peanut butter, then slowly and methodically dressed myself, making sure every inch of exposed skin was appropriately lubed with Body Glide.

I adjusted my socks until they were just right, knowing the slightest discomfort could spell disaster over 26.2 miles.  Two lost toenails in my last marathon was a reminder to pay special attention to the placement of the seams of my socks. I paced back and forth while triple checking that my bags were packed appropriately with pre- and post-race necessities. 

Finally ready!

I left my house at 5:45 a.m., feeling really ready.  I knew I would need to find one more bathroom upon my arrival...just for good measure.  It's sad that pooping was more of a concern for me at this point than the fact that I was going to be running for nearly four hours!

After a long drive to the the race site, I found it rather ironic that when I finally parked, my trip odometer read '23 miles'.  Hell, I could have run to the race!

I arrived at Fair Park, gathered my 'checked' bag and was on a mission for a toilet.  I followed the crowd  and came across an open door of a building.  I saw one other person inside and a huge WOMEN sign.  Ah...heaven.  There was just one other lady inside and I have the luxury to select any stall I wanted.  Success.  I walked out and to my surprise, in a matter of three minutes, the line to the restroom had managed to wrap around the building.  Some strange phenomenon I cannot explain other than this was simply going to be MY LUCKY DAY!

I made my way to the Start Line and was reluctant to give up my warm ups, but I wanted a good position, so I stripped off my pants and breathed in a sigh of 37 degrees.  Thankfully, I stumbled upon some of my running crew for last minute good lucks and laughs and then I put on my game face.  I was ready to do this!

More waiting due to the television broadcast, the singing of the National Anthem, and a little ba ba ba ba
ba baaahh-ing by Michael Jackson to get my blood pumping and before I knew it, the gun sounded and I was off!

My plan was to run a conservative, smart race.  Don't start off too fast.  Run the first 10 miles at an 8:30 pace, the next 10 at an 8:15 - 8:20 pace and then to go for it the last 10K.  The first three miles were a bit crowded and I would find myself getting off pace several times, but I didn't let panic set in.  I trusted myself.  I knew I could do it.  Miles 1-5 average pace:  8:29

I saw my friends at mile 5 holding a NEVER2LAYT sign.  What joy that brought me!  Still full of energy, I ran by with a "WHOOHOO!"  About a minute later, I saw Ced and Jackson holding these signs.  Pure jubilation! 

I was prepared for the slight ascent over the course of the next five miles.  It was early enough in the race to not feel much fatigue.  The fan support was great and I was fully warmed up to toss my outer gloves and lock in a conservative pace.  Miles 6-10 average pace:  8:28. 

Mile 10 was the second friends / family sighting.  You can imagine how pleased I was!  It's hard work getting from one point to another as a spectator and to have them see me and cheer for me twice by mile 10 was so uplifting.  I joke that it is easier to run a marathon.  I just follow the crowd.

Around Mile 11, I knew I was going to qualify.  I had no idea what was going to happen over the course of the next 15 miles, but I did know that my mind was solid.  It was made up before we started.  There was no way I would disappoint anyone today.  I felt great and I was already approaching White Rock Lake.

I've run the course so many times.  I know every turn, every slight ascent.  I know where the wind tunnels are and where to use the wind to my advantage.  I love the lake and its familiarity gave me even more confidence.  This is where I started to gradually increase my pace per my game plan. Miles 11 - 15 average pace:  8:24.

Much to my delight, I noticed my friends waiting for me again.  I am so grateful and am learning their race strategy is almost as detailed as mine.  I check my pace band at Mile 15 and I'm a minute under my goal.  I don't have a lot of room for error and I haven't even reached the so-called wall yet.  Rather than panicking, I trust my training and much to my surprise, I see Ced and J again!  "Go Mommy!"  I can't let that disgustingly cute child of mine down!

I am starting to feel my first signs of fatigue at mile 16.  I'm experienced enough to know that you go through a series of many ups and downs over the course of marathon, so I know it should wain within a couple miles.  I take advantage of the wind at my back and the flat course to try to regain some of my energy. 

Without slowing my pace, miles 16-20 are tough.  My quads are starting to cramp and I am starting to panic.  I rotate water / gatorade at each aid station.  The pain is excruciating at times, but I focus on my goal.  I haven't felt tightness like this before, but I tell myself to deal with the pain after the race. 

I make a sharp right to a crowd of supporters near mile 19 and I hear "Go Mommy!" REALLY!??  I see my boys AGAIN!  I'm tired, emotional, focused.  I shout, "Hi BAAAAABY!" and am on my way.  I see my friends again and I've regained my energy.  They would later tell me my expression at that point was complete determination.  I know I'm going to do it.  I won't hit the wall today.  I have a 10K to go and it's time to pick up my pace.  Miles 16-20 average pace:  8:20.

White Rock Marathon is infamous for the Dolly Parton Hills.  Without any further explanation, you can probably gather, they are two hills at mile 21.  Any other day, they are just an A-cup, but at this point in a marathon, they are a DD.  The aid station has men dressed in blond wigs, resting water and gatorade on their boobs, acting completely obnoxious.  Normally, I would think this is really funny, but my sense of humor at this point is...gone.

I take in more water, eat my Clif chomps and I will myself through the bossoms.  Mile 22 is my breakthrough point.  I have just over four miles to go.  My quads are hurting so badly.  It feels like someone has taken a knife and is cutting me with each step, but stopping is hardly an option.  Instead I pick up my pace.  With the gradual descent and a vision of Boston in my sights, I begin to make pass after pass.  Many people are walking, stretching, struggling.  I am pumping my arms as I completely absorb myself into my 345 playlist.

Fans cheering start to call out my name, from my bib.  I don't smile or acknowledge much.  I am so focused.  I look at my pace band at mile 23 and I now have three minutes to spare.  Essentially, I could slow my pace at this point and still make my goal, but I'm not taking any chances.  One last Usher song and then a little inspiration from Kirk Franklin and I'm almost there.

I start to pass much slower runners and realize I'm passing the people running the half marathon!  I see Mile 26 in the distance as I pass by Ced and J one final time.  I know I've done it.  My emotions take over me as Ced cheers for me to 'FINISH....FINISH'.

I run through the finish line and completely lose control of all my emotions.  I knew I could do it.  I had been envisioning this moment for the past five months.  It was happening.  I did it!  I qualified for the Boston Marathon running a 3:42 marathon.  Final 10K pace:  8:21

There is nothing special about me but on Sunday I was able to do something extraordinary because I set a goal for myself.  I worked so hard and always believed I could do it.  I'll see you in Boston!

This post brought to you by:
Mama's Losin' It

This week I want you to write a post inspired entirely by one of these words:

Simple. Angsty. Excruciating. Enchanted. Bold.


Theodora Ofosuhima said...

Well done girl!

Oh, how I wish I could be diligent like you are. I haven't been excising or running for so long. The last time I went swimming was last week and I felt like dying, LOL!

Well done once more.

Unknown said...

Congrats! What a great race! I love reading along as you ran it.

debpieper said...

Wow! That is inspirational. Congratulations to you and to your family for being extra awesome support!
-stopping in from mama kat's -

Unknown said...

I was hanging onto every word of this post. way to be!

Bruna said...

Oh what I would do to be as motivated as you! Congrats on your race! You have inspired me to get my arse in gear and do something, anything! Your family was so supportive too.

Stopping by via Mama Kat's!

DB said...

As one of the friends mentioned in this post who cheered you on at four locations around the course as well as the finish (that's right, I'm awesome), I already knew most of this story and was obviously extremely proud of you. Now that it's several days later, reading this post from your point of view brings a tear to my eye not only because of how happy I am for you, but because you've shown that goals can be achieved with hard work, determination and spirit. Sure, you'd run this marathon and other marathons before, but you made the necessary changes and adjustments both physcially and emotionally to your training in order to shave time and ensure qualification for Boston. Obviously, I can't wait for when you finally have your chance to run the Boston marathon. But to me, it's the marathon you just completed that is the real story. You've shown that it's never2layt to make some dreams come true. Well done!

Donna said...

What a race to the finish yet it started not on race day but at the beginning when you set your original intention.

Congratulations on the race, the willpower, and the post. All three, certainly winners in my book (blog).

Best of luck in Boston.

Theresa said...

AWESOME! I knew you could do it too and I only know you through your blog. What a wonderful story about your race and your determination. Congratulations! You brought tears to my eyes as it just proves if you set your mind to something, you can achieve it.

Sherri said...

Love the play-by-play, Rhonda! So excited for you...

Kelly said...

WOW!! YOU Totally ROCK!!

I am training for a marathon in May...last one I did was 13 years ago...and I have decided to lace up the shoes and give it another go.

Great post, and congrats on qualifying!

Kelly Olexa said...

What an awesome post! Just found your blog today and love it. Your family is precious....I'm a newbie runner, just prepping for my first 1/2 marathon. I look forward to some day doing a full one...reading stories like yours gets me so motivated!! I've bookmarked your blog and will be back often!! ;)

Glenn Jones said...

Excellent effort and excellent report! I was on the edge of me seat reading. Congratulations Rhonda.

ABW said...

Okay, this post got me. I loved it. DB hit the nail on the head.

Great job Rhonda!!!!

Now to coach DB and I thought a marathon, although while we joke about qualifying for Boston, I think we will shoot for finishing before the sun sets.

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