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One Week From Today

One week from today, I will be nearing the completion of my first full marathon.  (hopefully the completion)  I have so many thoughts and emotions right now.

I was quite emotional last week, considering our experience last one week ago today.  I shed tears every day….nerves were very rattled.  That will take time.  My long run this week called for 8 miles, tapering down to getting rest before the big day.  Since it’s graduation weekend here and we have so many parties to attend, I decided would run the 8 miles before school on Friday.  Then it’s done.  I did that and actually felt very emotional about the 8 miles.  Completing the 8 miles meant that I had completed the last long run before the actual marathon…..it meant that I had completed my training.  I felt so good.  It was a difficult training and it was done, and I had stuck to it and now I was ready.  On paper anyway.

As I look ahead to this last week before the marathon and look ahead to the marathon itself, I have so many feelings.  I am scared.  I am excited.  I am scared.  I am wondering what it’s going to be like.  I am scared.  I can’t wait to see all the people.  I am scared.   I can’t believe I am even attempting this.  I am scared.  (Have I mentioned that I’m a little scared?!)  🙂

Apparently there is a KILLER hill at mile 17.  That’s what I’m most scared about.  That hill.

I have everything ready….my clothes, socks, fuel, music, mental and physical strategies that I’m planning on using.  Who knows if any of it will work.  

My goal?  FINISH.  I don’t have a goal time.  Time isn’t what this marathon is about for me. 

It’s crazy….one week ago I was lying in a ditch afraid for my life.  One week from today I will be running a marathon.  Goal time?  I’m just blessed that I have time….that I’m here….that I’m even able to do this.  And I hope I can relax,  step back, and enjoy every minute of it.

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Major Marathon Pause

For months I’ve been training and worrying about this marathon.  I have gotten through runs that I never dreamed I would get through both feeling great and feeling awful, but I completed them.  I’ve been excited and nervous at the same time.  Lately, I’ve been more nervous than excited because I’ve been so scared that I’ll get to a point and my legs will just give out and I won’t be able to finish, OR, I will not finish in time to have the race even count…that I’ll be past the time limit.  I don’t want my legs to give out, but I’ve read about it happening even to the most seasoned runners who are way more trained than I, so why couldn’t it happen to me?   Yesterday about 3:30pm, I received a heavy, heavy dose of perspective and forced to pause and think.

Hubby and I were on our way home from getting groceries when we heard that there was a tornado near Harmony.  We called home and some dear friends picked up our son (and our dog), so we knew they were safe.  It was raining heavily, it was hailing heavily.  It was so windy that Hubby was having difficulty controling the car.  He decided we needed to turn around and go back to Preston and seek shelter because suddenly, everything was a horrible green color and everything was spinning.  Turning around was difficult and once we got on the other side of the road, he stopped the car and said, “We have to get out and get to the ditch.”  I kept saying over and over, “No, no, no!” in a half whimper, half tearless cry, even though I knew that’s what we needed to do.  It was the urgency in his voice when he yelled, “GO!  GET TO THE DITCH!” that actually woke me up and made me open my door and run. 

We got down on our stomachs and then he said that we needed to move away from the car in case it rolled or was picked up.  Again, all I could say was “No, no, no!” but I knew we had to move.  The wind was such a force that we actually had to crawl our way to a different part of the ditch so we weren’t near the car.  I layed half on my side and half on my stomach and hubby got on top of me and held me to try and shield me.   It was then that things changed.

It was then that we heard the freight train sound, the pressure in the air changed, and it was difficult to breathe.  I will never forget that sound.  I was gasping for air, staring at the grass, staring at my cell phone in my outstretched hand thinking that I should try to call 911, but realizing that nobody would be able to get out there.  It seemed to last forever.  Suddenly, the freight train sound stopped, the pressure changed, and it was almost like an instinct we both knew we needed to get back to the car and get out of there.  It was extremely difficult to even get out of the ditch as the wind was still horribly strong and it was hailing.  I was trying to run bent over to shield myself.  I reached for the car door handle and when I tried to open it, the wind took it and it flew open, hitting me in the forehead. I knew I was hit in the head, but did not feel anything.  I got in the car as Lane was telling me to call a friend of our’s and tell him we were on our way.  I held my arm up to my forehead to try to stop the bleeding.  We made it safely to our friend’s house, but my entire body did not stop shaking for a good hour.  As it turned out, I ended up getting 4 stitches in my forehead and a tetnus shot.

There is a rumor that there were 3 tornadoes yesterday and that the 3rd tornado was the one that was over us.  It is rumored that this 3rd tornado did not touch down.  I don’t have any idea if that is accurate or not.  I don’t have any idea if what hit us was that 3rd “in the air” tornado or if what hit us were straight line winds from the other 2 tornadoes.  I don’t care.  What happened to us was the single most terrifying thing I have ever experienced.  When I heard the freight train sound, I thought that we were done.  I simply muttered between gasps, “Oh God, oh God, oh God, please help us.”

I didn’t actually really cry until today, the day after.  I was anxiety-ridden all day.  I’m in a daze. 

I thank God for protecting us in that ditch and I thank God that we were able to come home in one piece to see our son.  The thought of not getting through that nearly drops me to my knees everytime I think of it.  I feel so horrible for the people in Missouri.  I am so thankful for the dear friends who came to get our son and our dog.  I am so thankful to our friends who took us in at their house and gave us towels and bandages for my forehead. And I am so thankful for my hubby’s bravery and how he protected me. 

I know it’s easy to sit here the day after something traumatic and spout off how much perspective was gained.  My feelings are very real and I do pray that I remember this perspective after life and these feelings settle down.   For now, I am going to allow myself to feel sad, scared, teary-eyed, anxious.  I hope that come marathon day, I can remember these feelings when I’m hitting a wall, or simply having a difficult time and put that pain in perspective and keep plugging along and remember that it’s only a race.  The greatest importance is how absolutely blessed I am.

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Tough Day

I’m starting the taper…which is scary and exciting and a feeling of relief all at the same time.  Scary because starting the taper means I’m close to the marathon date, exciting for the same reason, and relief because I’m almost done worrying about this. 

I was so glad today was going to be significantly less that last week’s 22.5, but to my surprise…it was awful.  It shouldn’t have been, I didn’t think.  No new terrain, no surprises in mileage, I’ve run these mileages SEVERAL times before…between 13 and 16.  But…it didn’t go as I planned.

I started out so excited because like I said, no change in terrain, I’ve run this distance so many times, it was FINALLY a beautiful day.  The sun was shining, it smelled like a real spring day, birds were singing, beautiful wildlife.  My heart felt happy as I got going and for about an hour and a half, I felt like I was just floating along.  And then it hit.

  And I don’t really KNOW what hit me or where it hit specifically.  It was all over.  A general whole body tiredness and soreness.  It was so bad that I didn’t know if I could even finish my run.  I considered calling hubby and having him meet me and pick me up, but decided against that and decided to fight through it.  It was so odd to me….I felt more tired, more sore…more of everything NOT cool than I did last week running the 22.5 and I could figure out why.  Last week, my thighs were BURNING toward the end and I was able to keep going.  This week my thighs were NOT burning.  They weren’t even sore in that way.  The best way I can describe this feeling was a general all-over-feeling-of-tiredness.  

I got home and this week I had stockpiled TWO bags of ice for the bath and actually couldn’t WAIT to get into the tub.  I put on my running tights thinking that would help me gut out more time in the tub than with just my shorts on and I was right.  I sat in the ice bath for 10 full mintues and I feel much better now. 

This week made me even more worried about the marathon.  I get it and I’ve even blogged about this…that bad runs happen.  It’s just like life.  Sometimes the things in life we think should be “easy” turn out to be difficult, and the things we think should be “difficult” turn out to be easier than we thought.  But I do not want what happened today to happen on June 5th.  

I’m down to 20 days.  All I can control are my own actions.  I have to keep working hard.  If today happens on June 5th, then it does and I’ll have to deal with that and the feelings after.  I just have to take these last 20 days one day at a time.

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I wasn’t going to blog about this run, but I decided to do it because my whole intent of blogging was to document this journey for myself so that I could look back when it’s all over and hopefully smile and learn something.  My schedule actually called for 16 this weekend…a step back week before the big 22.  I was reading this article about the last few weeks before a marathon and the article said to NOT run the longest run in the last 3 weeks of training.  Well that meant that my 22 miler would be 3 weeks before the marathon.  Yikes!  What was I supposed to do?

I emailed my marathon rock #2, my cousin Kean, (my marathon rock #1 is hubby Lane).  I’ve mentioned Kean before and he is a huge inspiration to me.  He told me to get the 22 done this weekend (weekend of May 7th and 8th) and begin tapering.  This really threw me off mentally, and actually in every possible way.  It was the Big Band Bash weekend…which meant company, two concerts, throw Mothers Day in there….then add trying to run the longest run I’ve ever tried on top of everything?  To be quite honest, I mentally shut down Friday afternoon.  Oh…and I forgot to mention that I had to coach a softball game Friday night before the Friday night concert. 

There was no denying it…I HAD to run the 22 miles, and I HAD to run them outside on the trail…rain or shine.  This was going to be the big test.  I started out at 5:30am and it was actually quite light out.  Everything felt great.  Everything in nature was so beautiful.  I had on my pedometer, my cell phone, had my MP3 player in my pocket, my GU Chomps.  Everything was clicking….breathing, legs, mind.  I could believe how beautiful it was…I saw bunnies, a fox, a crane, several geese, a HUGE turkey that got up right in front of me and scared me!  I never did listen to music.  It was so peaceful out there and the sound of silence was very calming.

It was about 2 hours in and I had no idea where I was.  But, I was thinking that I had to be close to my turnaround.  It was then that I realized that I was in Preston!  Wow!  I had made it halfway!  Then I had to turn around and head all the way back to Harmony?!  Really?  I actually still felt great and mentally I was thinking positively that I was over half way done!  Then I started hitting some of the hills.  There was one hill that I saw coming up and I really did say outloud…well…not going to post it here.  I walked up that hill and two others that were like it.  From my calculations, I’m pretty sure that it took me 30 seconds AT THE MOST to walk each hill…so only a total of 1 mintue 30 seconds and saved my legs a little more.

By this point, my thighs were hurting a lot toward the end, but it was actually easier to keep running slowly than to walk and then have to start up again.  So I just kept a nice, SLOW pace, but kept running.  There were two things that I was never so happy to see….Ridge Road and the Harmony city shed.  Once I got closer to the end, I actually picked up my pace and practically sprinted in.  I didn’t care about how badly the increase in pace hurt, because it was like that John Cougar Mellencamp song “Hurts So Good”…that’s how it felt.  Even though by now, at the end, every muscle in my thighs, butt, hips hurt…even places I didn’t know could hurt, I felt on top of the world and I didn’t care what hurt.  I looked at me pedometer when I got to the end and it said…22.5…so I had gone a half a mile longer than what I needed and I felt amazing.  I then got emotional because I visualized myself at the finish line of the marathon.  I knew that I could do it.

Now I begin to taper.  This weekend is 16, then 12 the next, then 8, then the marathon.  Weekly runs and workouts will start to get shorter too.   So I just keep on plugging away…one foot in front of the other for 26 days.

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