Monday, October 06, 2008

Embracing the Journey

The journey that is called Twin Cities.

October 5, 2008 – this was a day to remember. It was what I called my Freedom Run. I arrived in Minneapolis with 9 other friends. We’d all planned on running the Twin Cities Marathon some time last year after Chicago’s disaster. It’s a run I’d looked forward to for some time. We arrived from various cities around the US. Except for myself, everyone had trained for this event. I, as most people know from this blog, had a little implosion of life in July. Going through a divorce has its fair share of struggles so I didn’t get in the training that I’d planned. I was coming off of an injury and a small bought of depression and wasn’t in the best shape going in to training and then the divorce made training next to impossible for me.

Still, I wasn’t going to let Robb win. I’d gotten my airfare and my entry to TCM so why not run it? I’d done 15 other marathons so I knew mentally I could do it. I’d done it before so why not just try. The worst thing that could happen would be that I’d have to stop and drop. I set out with just a long run of 14 miles under my belt – and that was about 6 weeks prior to the race. DEFINITELY not the mileage you need to run a successful marathon. However, this marathon had a different journey. The journey was not to set a personal best or come in even close to my PR – it was to endure to the end -it was to WIN, to not give up, and to overcome all of the negativity that I’d endured within my marriage – and with regard to my running. It was my Freedom Run and I was out to embrace the journey.

We started out for the Metro-dome around 5:30 and it was sprinkling. As we got on the buses that would take us to the start it was raining. The rains subsided as we lined up for the guns to go off. About a mile into the run it started raining again. Then the downpour started. Miles 2 through 9 were pretty much a soaking mess. But, coming from the Pacific Northwest it was a piece of cake. I know I don’t melt, having run in downpours more than my fair share. I stopped dodging the puddles and just ran through them. I was wearing my running skirt and a short-sleeved Maniac top – wished I was in capris, gloves and long sleeves. It got COLD. The cold is probably what made me get through the first 11 miles without stopping. I just wanted to get through the race and surprisingly I felt GOOD!

Miles 12 through 16 were a little tougher as they should have been. Remember, my longest run all YEAR – yes, in all of 2008 was 14 miles and that was in August. The last 20 I’d done was in September of 2007 when I was training for Chicago. Again, not in marathon shape.

Miles 16 through the end were just a test of faith and strength – physical as well as mental. The faith I had was that I knew I’d get through this. I knew that I’d been blessed with a strong body and that I had been through this before, maybe not this hard, but I’d been there. I knew I could do it. The mental strength was just about not letting the mental ‘bad’ demons get to me. I saw a couple ‘runner drop-out zones’ and thought it’d be nice to be done since I wasn’t going to get a PR and it was tough but I fought those back with these words – ‘IF I QUIT ROBB WINS’. I’m stubborn and Robb will not win. It kept me going and going. The physical strength was just acknowledging that my legs and hips were on fire. The body really DOES need that training in the months before a marathon and it’s INSANE to try to do it without. Does that make me insane? Probably – or more like just insanely stubborn and unwilling to let my ex triumph over yet another aspect of my life. No MORE.

The last mile I just focused and shuffled it in. I came up over the downhill to the finish and saw the finish line. I got really emotional. I think the only other times I was emotional in a marathon were the first two – and they were the first marathons right after the births of my daughters. The other 13 have just been fun experiences – exhilarating, but not too emotional. I got so choked up this time. My eyes welled with tears. I thought of my friends and of loved ones who encouraged me to run this marathon. I thought of the people’s names I’d written on my arms (yeah, we do this to be inspired as we run – kind of like little tattoos of our kids’ or spouses names) I looked down so many times during the run and I thought of those people, of the love I have for them and the love they have for me.

I crossed the finish line exactly at 5:23:00 – normally this time would have thoroughly disappointed me as I’m usually right around the 4 hour mark. However, this was an entirely different journey. Another test of enduring everything. This race signified a new beginning for me. It signified a fresh start for running, a new beginning. I ended that race with a new love of the sport. I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing. Running feeds my soul as well as FREES my spirit. I’m never going to give up marathons. These are a part of who I am. I may not ‘look’ like the typical runner, having a short, stocky body, but I have the heart and determination of a runner. No one can ever take that away – never again.

Oh, by the way - my good friend Cyd and I found matching bracelets from Brighton that say "Embrace the Journey". It's so appropriate. I love it and plan to wear it daily!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Seriously? Again!

It, again, has been way too long between my bloggings. A lot of stuff has been going on in life and I guess writing is just not top priority. Right now I should be working, but -- no -- I decided I needed to just write.

I'm anxious and conflicted about this coming weekend. I'll be meeting a bunch of girl-friends for TCM - Twin Cities Marathon - for those of you that are not in the know. :-) Anyway, I have not trained. It's been sporadic at best and my longest run, a month ago, was 14 miles and it kicked my butt. Seriously - I had a really hard time with it. Again, I'm going to do TCM to show Robb he did not win. He might have beaten me down a bit, but he will never have that control over me again. He will NOT win this one. I will get through the marathon. Might be a six-hour ordeal, but I'll do it. I'm not afraid of pain or time and I'm not going to be ashamed to come in 2 hours slower than my best. This will be my triumph - and mine alone. It'll be even sweeter than those sub-4 marathons I've done because this will have been completed during one of the hardest times of my life.

I just wanted to say thank you to all of my friends and my support. Seriously have been the best ever. I have so many cheerleaders and so many people who have watched and will be watching my girls as I go run this race. I could never do all of this - go through such a life changing experience without my good friends. These are the people that endure with you - that make it possible for you to reach for your dreams and goals. The people who are there prodding you to just get out the door when all you want to do is to sit and cry. Enduring and lasting friendships - Thank you - and you guys know who you are! I love you!

So as I embark on this new journey - a marathon that has had little to no training -- all I can say is I'll be focusing on the friends and loved ones in my life. You all will be pulling me through. You don't realize that, but you will. You'll be there whispering encouragment to me as I make it mile after mile. I can't wait to focus and meditate on all of my friends... we can do this together.

When I cross that finish line you will all be there with me. So, pat yourselves on the back -- you're in for a long and blistered run on Sunday. We will finish - we will endure - we will make it out even stronger than we entered. I'm a survivor thanks to all of you.

Love to you all,