It was stupid hot. Like, 97 degrees with 634% humidity. I stood at the bottom of the hill on Cottonmill under the shade of some trees and caught my breath. My phone’s GPS app was paused for the 7th time. I stood there for a good 10 minutes before continuing on out of embarrassment of everyone passing and looking at me as the pathetic person I was. I got to the top of the hill and stopped (again), pausing my running app (again). I finished the run and collapsed on our kitchen floor with a glass of water. Little S ate dinner with Big S and Rae sat in the swing. I chugged the water and announced “Just barely over ten minute miles.”
“That’s awesome, babe! How far did you go?”
I was proud. And rightfully so. I spent the rest of the evening groaning at tight muscles as I walked up stairs and eating a pint of ice cream, because, you know, 4 miles totally burns 1200 calories worth of Ben & Jerrys.
Every time someone would ask me if I would run a full marathon someday my reaction was immediate. The word “nope” rolled off my tongue faster than a kenyan runs the 200 meter sprint.
26.2? That’s a stupid amount of miles to run.
I remember listening to my dad go over the race course of the Disney marathon. I listened intently as he talked about his training schedule, his long runs of 16, 18, 20 miles on the weekend with Mike Bradley. I remember him explaining the GU he ate mid run to fuel your body back to be able to continue on once your body has literally used up everything it has to enable you to run. I heard him talk about his black toenails and sore muscles. I listened to him talk about the glorious taper down of milage before the big race. It was all so technical and confusing.
And still stupid.
I was intrigued and horrified at anyone running 26.2 miles.
What an incredibly weird thing to put your body through.
I don’t quite know what happened between then and now.
I don’t remember being abducted and forced to drink the marathon gatorade that would turn me into the monster I am today.
But something turned me from barely finishing a 10k in November 2013 to having 6 half marathons under my belt. I find myself uttering phrases like “I’m doing Yasso 800’s with a sub 7 pace hoping to PR my track work and then do some fartleks later.” And I’ve been known to scoff at my training plan that has me ONLY doing a 15 miler this Saturday, like it’s nothing.
When I signed up for the DC Rock N Roll Full marathon last November I was terrified and excited. Every week was a new record. I was getting faster. I was stronger. Mentally and physically I felt unstoppable.
I was doing 14 mile runs.
Then it all fell apart with a muscle strain on that last 20 mile training run. I stopped at mile 19, screamed in pain, stretched my hip and just finished the run.
I cried every single day for 6 weeks driving down the road and watching people run on the sidewalk. I cried as my newsfeed filled with my friends doing morning runs without me. I cried when the day that I should have completed my first marathon came and went.
But strains heal and the minute I could bend with a sharp pain I went for a run, and then everything felt okay.
So now, 3 weeks out from Marine Corps Marathon, I’m injury free and marathon ready. My pace is faster. My mental game is strong. My fueling techniques are on point. And my toenails are still in tact.
So this marathon is a really huge deal for me.
This past year has been incredibly hard. Little S has been through some challenging stages. Big S works A LOT to provide for our family, which means long hours of being alone. And the obvious issues with Rae, more hospitalizations, testing that seems never ending, orthotics, new feeding schedule, new medication, seeing her in pain far more often than a mama should. It has been an incredibly rough year.
This marathon isn’t about the actual last 26.2 mile victory lap around DC. This marathon is about the hundreds of miles I’ve poured my soul into when I felt like I was failing as a mother. It’s about the miles spent with tears streaming down my face after someone said something hurtful about Rae. It’s about the miles I ran only to get away from the arguing and back talking of Little S. It’s about the miles I spent begging and pleading with God to make everything in my life reveal itself for His glory and to lead me to understand why life is so incredibly hard sometimes.
I have never been one to hide my insecurities. I shout them on this blog with conviction that SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE has to feel the same. I’m a bad mom. I’m not an attentive wife. I shouldn’t have said that. My thighs are fat. I eat too many chips. I shouldn’t be worrying so much, and should be seeking God first. I failed and am continuing to fail.
Just ask me what I think about myself after a run:
I am strong.
I am committed.
I am doing my best to be an example of healthy habits for my kids.
I am fast.
I am free.
I am putting my mind to something and actually accomplishing it.
I am prayerfully putting my trust in God that he’s got Rae and our entire family in His hands.
Come October 25, around 8 AM I’ll be toeing the starting line.
And I can’t wait to see where it takes me beyond the finish.