Sunday, September 30, 2012

Adversity: A condition marked with misfortune, calamity, or distress

Today my husband told me that he's not sure that he wants to race anymore. I am 99% sure that when he wakes up in the morning he will start thinking about his next race. And then when he's crewing for me during my race next Sunday he will be methodically thinking about his race that he suffered through today trying to figure out how to make improvements next time. I can already picture him making notes in his little black moleskin journal that he brings everywhere.

This morning we woke up at 4 am and headed out to Lakewood for the Bear Chase Race. After parking, we hopped on a bus to be shuttled to the start along with a crew of sleepy athletes. As we rode along in the dark, one flustered man sitting behind us got on the phone with his significant other and started ranting about how he forgot his race belt back at the car. Everyone started looking uncomfortably at each other as his conversation escalated. Finally he asked the bus driver to pull over at a gas station and let him out. Then he proceeded to pace back and forth on the bus until he finished his phone conversation and gathered his belongings. As soon as he got off the bus there were a few snickers and the girl next to us make quite a funny joke that I will not repeat.

Anyway, as the bus resumed course Cory realized that he forgot his hand held water bottle in the car. Seeing that I am not a morning person I did not handle the situation gracefully. I ended up taking the bus back to the car while Cory made pre-race preparations. It was a good thing because the extremely friendly lady driving the bus did not know how to get back to the parking lot where she was supposed to pick up more runners. When we finally got to the pitch-black parking lot I played a wonderful game of hide and go seek with our black car because Cory had the headlamp. Fun times.

The sun rose and the runners were off (and Cory was very happy to have his water bottle). We had discussed Cory's race plan in depth so that he would not run his typical race... which is run fast until you don't have anything left. He was aiming to be between 7-12th place in the first half of the race and move up steadily from there. Additionally he had set time goals for each lap. This year was a little more competitive than previous years and so he was pulled into running 4 minutes under his goal pace for the first lap. By the second lap he had slowed up a bit and hit his goal pace.

Hamiltons (I'm assuming brothers) burning through their second lap on their way to a record setting finish.

There is really only one climb on this relatively flat course. On his last lap I met him at the bottom of the climb  at mile 24 because he wasn't looking so happy at mile 19. Shortly after this point the vomiting began. Unaware of his GI distress, I was panicking at the finish line because an hour and twenty minutes after his projected finish he still wasn't in. I wanted so badly for him to have a successful race to cap off the season. With help from aid station volunteers who forced him to take electrolytes and liquids, he somehow managed to get himself to the finish line.

Shortly before throwing up.

We are still not sure what brought on this "adverse" situation. He got good sleep, ate a good breakfast, and kept a consistent eating schedule during the race. I'm betting my money on the expired Clif Shots that he insists we keep (He's napping right now so I should probably sneak off and throw them out). At any rate, I'm proud of my guy and I'm going to be thinking of him next Sunday when I'm racing. If he was able to drag himself through those horrible miles, then I can't think of any excuse that should stop me.

To be honest, though, I am really nervous. I've felt so successful at other distances, but my last marathon experience left me in a funk. Quitting at mile 18 from nerve pain in my hip, left me feeling incredibly depressed. You invest so much time into marathon training that when you drop out all you can think about is all of those Saturday or Sunday mornings that you were out running instead of spending quality time with other people and how you spent the rest of those days feeling post-run nausea. Why do we do it? Why is it so addictive?

Personally, I think I do it because I want to see how much pain I can handle. Some people say that they trail run because they want to enjoy the scenery, but I think that's just an excuse to cover for some sort of masochism. If you just wanted to enjoy the scenery you would go backpacking or hiking instead and wouldn't do the same punishing routes over and over again. The scenery is a bonus, but I think I want to show myself that I am capable of something extraordinary. Let's face it, I'm not going to be the first woman President or discover the cure to cancer. There is nothing about me that proclaims greatness. I'm never going to change the world. This isn't meant to sound depressing; I am ok with this reality. I just want to live a humble life where day by day I push my own physical and mental limits.

And I think this comes back to why I am so nervous for my upcoming race. I've dropped out of a marathon once. If I drop out again does this mean that I've reached my physical limit? I don't want to know what my physical limit is. I don't want to be cut short in my 20s. I don't want to tell my kids about how, back in the day, I tried to run marathons but was never successful. Damned sure I'm not going to let that happen.

So even if I throw up, even if I have shooting nerve pain down my hamstring, even if there is record October heat, I'm going to get myself to that finish line. After witnessing Cory's extraordinary effort to persevere through his race, I'm not going to let myself do any less.

Need inspiration? Here's Jeanne Cooper breaking the women's record by 28 minutes.

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