Plagued with injury, against all odds (and doctor’s orders), more fear than most that I will crap myself on the course, I got through it. But I did more than get through it. After 26.2 miles, I found myself finishing with my arms raised up in victory across the finish line, even with a distinct limp (lovingly referred to as my pimp limp for the next five days). Then, shortly, a medal was placed around my neck. Tears fell down my sweat-dried and salt-dusted cheeks; and I could only muster up a head nod when the volunteer said, “congratulations,” for fear words might cause uncontrollable sobbing.
I hobbled slowly down that victory lane watching other runners seated along the parallel curb, some drinking beer out of plastic cups, others icing shoulders, knees, and ankles. All of us with a profound sense of accomplishment. My grandmother would be proud of me.
I did it. The Summer Breeze half marathon in San Leandro happened last week and I finished it in 2:33. I thought at some points along the way that my left leg might stop working. My IT band was so tight by mile 9 that it was causing pain from my hip down to the front of my ankle with every step. Damn, it hurt, but I kept moving, at a snail’s pace, and willed myself to get through those last four miles.
Taken at mile 11. Does this look like the face of a happy runner?
I think not. But I finished. I’m halfway there.
No idea how I will be able to turn around and run another 13.1, but I won’t think about that for now. I just might throw up.
All of it. All of the running I’ve been doing over the last several weeks is working. I ran eight miles today and didn’t die. It was an unusually cloudy morning, which made for a comfortable run. I’m still doing dumb things, like today I forgot to bring water and felt like I might crap my pants at some points, but none of that mattered. I motored on, found a drinking fountain about halfway, and got through it crap-free.
Still working on odds and ends like what to eat before long runs, how much water to drink before, during, and after each run, what gear works best, and so on. But the running is working. My weekly mileage is climbing and the San Leandro half marathon is only a few weekends away. Oh my god! I’m suddenly feeling a little nauseous.
Last week I got in two runs, but climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia. The guides reminded me that it was about 1500 steps and about a 640 calorie workout, so I felt less guilty about missing a short, mid-week run.
See, I made it.
Australia was beautiful. It’s winter there and the days are short so my runs were limited to a treadmill. Needless to say, I’m ecstatic to be back on the trails in the bay area. My first 12 miler is planned for Saturday. Send prayers.
Marathon training has officially begun and I’m on track. That’s not saying much, it’s only week two. But with all of the upcoming travel on my schedule, I don’t know how long that will be the case.
It scares me to think about all of the miles I have yet to lay down all in preparation for the long run through the streets of Chicago. If I follow the training plan that I adopted, when all is said and done, I will have run over 425 training miles before running 26.2 on race day in October. That’s like running from Chicago to Canada.
The training plan pictured above you can find at the Chicago Marathon site at http://assets.chicagomarathon.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/2013_finish.pdf. After reviewing several different types of plans from CARA’s training peaks plan to Hal Higdon’s plan to Runner’s World’s plan – a plan I also loved, but this one to looked to be the most compelling. Incorporating weight training, cross-training, and yoga plan feels good as long as none of it is overdone. The RW plan includes running exclusively, is 20 weeks long, and claims to be foolproof. Either will probably get a beginner in a place to complete the marathon.
And that’s exactly what I am, a beginner. My goal is to finish the race. If I do that, I’ll have achieved all that I set out to do. I hope I can.
In light of all that has happened over the past few days, running has taken on a whole new meaning. My training and my purpose for running the Chicago marathon was to raise money for lung cancer research through LUNGevity Foundation while honoring the most influential person in my young life, my grandmother. We called her yiya (Greek for grandma). Yi for short.
That reason was big enough for me to attempt what seemed (and still feels to be) the impossible. Running 26 miles and 385 yards all at one time and before the race shuts down. (I need to finish.) It seems so big to me still. Yet, on Monday, tens of thousands of runners lined up and attempted to do the same in Boston. The turn of events was tragic, but the outpour of support, help, and unity has been incredible. It makes me proud to be a runner. And to attempt the same distance race.
When chatting with a friend on Monday night, she asked me if I still wanted to run the marathon in October now that everything has changed. Immediately I responded, “it makes me want to do it even more.” I refuse to be scared or threatened in my own home town, on the streets I grew up on, by some unknown – I don’t know what else to call it but – evil. I will run with even more determination and resolve than before. Together, runners, family, Chicagoans, we are so much bigger than this.
Yesterday and today again, the nods and smiles I exchange with other runners reassures me that we’re together in this. There’s a newfound or maybe just renewed camaraderie that I find comforting. I had another painfully slow run today, but kept going regardless of the aches and pains. Simply knowing there are runners all over the world feeling what I feel inside, and experiencing the same aches and pains throughout their journeys, makes me feel like I belong. Like I’m a part of something bigger than just myself. So what more could I ask for.
Photo is of the 2011 Hot Chocolate Race in Chicago. Coincidentally, I ran it with the same friend who asked me if I would still run the Chicago marathon.