Tuesday, May 17, 2011

thirteen point freaking one: the recap

I did it. I told you I was going to do it, and I did it.

I felt a little off in the days right before. Life was chaotic. I won't get into details but a lot of stress, too much running around, and not enough rest. I had a lot of aches and pains, had only gotten in one run all week, and was feeling really under-trained, which in retrospect, I was.

Sunday morning we all got out of the house. Kristie who was running with me had come the night before and stayed over with her husband. (Have I mentioned how fabulous they are? Especially for putting up with me and my stress? Yea, fabulous. Plus, my kids adore them.) It was pouring rain. I mean really, really pouring. But off we went armed with trash bags and many extra changes of clothes. The rain let up by the time we got there.  From then on it stuck to a steady drizzle with a lot of mist that sometimes made you feel like you were swimming, but I'm grateful it was that instead of 80 degrees and sunny.

Bathroom lines were crazy long, so much so that we actually missed the start. The race was chip-timed so we weren't stressing necessarily, but it was unsettling. Kristie and I got out of the bathroom and found our supporters who said "Run, they started!" We gave kisses and off we went. At the time, I thought it was nice not to deal with all the anxiety of standing and being jostled by the crowd while waiting for the start, but I think I needed some of the adrenaline that comes from that.

Our delayed start meant that we ran a good part of the race almost entirely by ourselves. We'd pass a few people here or there, but we were mostly by ourselves. I'm not sure this was great for the psyche either. My legs were stiff and hurting from the beginning. I kept waiting to hit my stride, loosen up and feel good. I eventually did for a little bit but my legs hurt way too early on and that weighed heavily on me. I stopped to stretch after a few water stops hoping to loosen them up.

I was trying to stick to my refueling pattern that worked so well in Gettysburg. One honey stinger and a gulp of electrolyte water at every mile marker, plus water from the water stops that were every 2 miles. I got off somewhere in there when there were a few mile markers missing and I think I under-fueled.

The highlight was undoubtedly when we ran past our amazing group of supporters - Kristie's husband, my husband, my two kids, my sister, my nephew, and my mom! They were amazing standing in the rain all day holding their signs and cheering everyone on. Of course the boys decided somewhere along the way that this should have been a mud run. I looked over and saw Elijah covered in mud from the waist down and laughed so hard. Then my mom and Ben ran after us for a little bit shouting with their signs. It was great.


It was a two-loop course, so I felt pretty good going into the second loop with 6.7 miles under my belt. By mile 8, it was getting hard. By mile 9 I was hurting. My injured foot was hurting and my legs were just overall hurting. I felt similar to how I felt at mile 9 in Gettysburg, but there I knew I had 2 miles left so I felt good. At this point, with 4 miles left, I was mentally hurting as much as I was physically. Shortly before mile 11, I had a bit of a breakdown. I couldn't catch my breath and just needed to cry. Kristie got worried as I was wheezing for air, but I pulled it together. I just wanted to be done, but I didn't think I could do it. I squeezed out the last 2 miles but not without two more walk breaks.

I was so angry at myself for hurting so bad and for allowing myself to stop and walk. But at the same time, I just wanted to curl up and die. Trying to get me through, Kristie was asking what I wanted to have when I crossed the finish line, what delicious meal I was dreaming of indulging in, and I just cried that all I wanted was my husband.

I did finally make it across that finish line with a chip time of 2:46:48. That's a 12:44 pace. I was gasping and wheezing for air and crying for my husband. My kids ran up to hug me, and I couldn't focus or stop crying. I kept telling Chris, "I don't want to" as if I hadn't already finished. It took a while but I managed to pull it together for a few pictures. I didn't feel joy, I didn't feel endorphins, and I sure didn't feel like a super hero. I felt like I got my ass kicked by 13.1, and I felt like a failure for not doing it better.

We went out to lunch and then home. My muscles hurt, but more so it took a while to balance my electrolytes. I had the kids by myself because my husband had a viewing he had to be at. I was dazed for hours. I was freezing and then hot. I fell asleep at the kitchen table doing puzzles with Ben. The room spun occasionally. When Chris eventually got home at 6pm with 2 things of Gatorade, I finally got a bit better.

This was the hardest thing I've ever done. The moment around mile 11 where I lost it, felt like the transition stage of childbirth. I felt so raw, empty, and defeated. I pulled it together to birth my son naturally at home in the same way I finished this race, but neither was the way I wanted to. It's the plague of perfection. After the birth of my son, I spent the first twenty minutes insistently apologizing to my midwives and husband for not doing better, and that's how I feel with this race except the apologies go to Kristie who had to put up with me in those last four miles.

I know, I know. I did it. I finished 13.1. I'm slowly processing it all. There will be bad runs and good runs. This run felt as bad as the 10 mile training run which afterwards I declared to my husband that I never wanted to run again. It felt particularly bad after such an amazing run in Gettysburg. But I did it. I'm proud I finished, but I'm not going to try to make myself falsely feel amazing about the experience or my performance. It doesn't help to make myself feel guilty for not being as happy as I should be. Instead, I'm moving on to my next goal.

I can't thank everyone enough for their support. My husband, Kristie, my mom, my sister, and my kids! My blog readers, Facebook friends, and even an awesome friend of Kristie's whose blog I follow who sent me a card and a shirt cheering me on (Thanks Paula!)! You guys are amazing and have been wonderful.

So who's with me on the PLANKS Challenge?  There's chat about it on the blog facebook page. Come join us!


  1. Congratulations! It was hard. If it were easy everyone would do it.

  2. I know you don't want to hear it but that is a great pace!! I think that you did awesome. But you already know that. Love you girl.

  3. Sorry to read you had a bad day. I hope you next race and you next half-marathon will be more enjoyable.
    Congratulations for finishing despite the bad conditions.

  4. Pauala - you're totally right!

    Thanks Mandie!

    Steph - thank you. I'm definitely up for doing it again, and that says something! :)

  5. You are awesome and this post made me cry!!!! I know I mentioned it yesterday on Twitter, but your blogging about running has helped keep me going... and yesterday I did my longest run ever in my life at 3.5 miles (!) I'm feeling tired today, but not sore, and generally pretty darned good about myself! You deserve congratulations for finishing 13.1 - holy cow, and I think you're inspirational! Keep it up!

  6. I love your story. Don't let yourself diminish your achievements. Perfectionism is almost as harmful as pessimism. Don't be your own worst enemy! I've struggled with it and my mom before me. I have had to learn to give myself credit where credit is due. You are an inspiration and wonderful person.

    1. By the way congrats also on natural childbirth. Although I am a stranger commenting on your blog, what I've read has been incredibly inspirational and I'd like to know more about your experience with in home childbirth and midwives. I think that childbirth should be an enjoyable (despite the pain. by the way how did you deal with the pain of childbirth in the home setting?), spiritual event experienced in comfort with a midwife and others you know and trust and not the highly stressful, impersonal and clinical medical procedure it tends to be for most women. I believe that this is a way to disempower women and diminish their innate and natural ability to give birth without constant medical attention and care. I have not experienced pregnancy and childbirth personally but my mother had my sister when I was 19 so I was able to conscientiously observe her experience and it was a disaster. They did an emergency c-section and pumped her so full of fulids that she gained 30 lbs water weight after having the child. In addition they caused her to experience "pitting" a term that means that the skin does not bounce back when pressed in. Essentially her whole body was a similar consistency to memory foam. Then, because she has an unmedicated anxiety disorder (she does not believe in psychiatric medication and so has struggled with trying to keep control of her disorder in a more holistic fashion through herbal remedies and mental exercises), they tried continuously to persuade her to accept anti-anxiety medications in her IV. Not to mention her husband was pressuring the nurses to convince her to take these medications so that he would not have to deal with her excessive anxiety, thinking that the nurses could convince her easier than he could. If I remember correctly they actually slipped her medications against her will I believe as a result of pressure from her husband when she was not yet totally coherent. As a result of all this her experience was even more unpleasant and stressful than it should have been. Although she did have to have a c-section, I believe that in a more relaxed home environment she could have had a better experience. Unfortunately, because of the stigma of homebirth and the culture of trust in mainstream hospital care, she did not and would not consider a more natural method of childbirth. Hopefully women will open their minds to returning to an older and healthier method of childbirth and the stigma of irresponsibility associated with midwifery and homebirth will diminish in the coming years.

      Thanks again for your inspirational blogging. Keep up the good work!


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