Marine Corps Marathon
worries, not pressure. I was there to go for a run, albeit a long one, and that was it. And it was fun. I ran with a friend who was doing her first marathon for the first half before she peeled off and picked up the pace. I took pictures and chatted with other runners, high fived all the kids who were cheering us on. As my legs started to hurt I slowed down. I skipped intervals when I needed and I smiled for all the cameras. I thought to myself that I was going to finish, slowly, and have a blast doing it. I had that thought in my head until the moment that it became clear that I wasn't going to finish.
There is a saying that goes "When your legs can't run anymore, run with your heart", I've always had trouble with sentiments like that because for me there are just certain point where I have to stop. I have arthritis, I have injuries that have never healed properly, I am in pain when I run. Some days are worse then others. Sunday was a pretty good day all things considered, knees held up well, feet hurt, but were survivable... but then my achilles jumped up and decided to take me out. My legs couldn't run anymore and I spent a few miles debating what to do. My head was still in the game, I was having a blast and moving fast enough to beat the bridge. I could do those last 8 miles, finish, get my medal, take some pictures and sleep all the way home. But what would the cost be? The last time I pushed through an achilles injury I was out of commission for 6 weeks. If I tore it, I could be out a year. So I texted my Dad and husband and said I was stopping at the next medical tent at mile 18. I walked up with a smile and a limp and told them my ankle was burning and I had lost feeling in my toes. As soon as my sock came off I knew I was done. My achilles was double the size that it should have been and I couldn't flex or point my foot. The PT asked if I wanted to keep going because he wouldn't stop me. I looked at my foot and then I pulled myself. The relief on the PT's face was pretty evident. He seemed relieved that he had time to fix me up properly and I sat for the next 20 minutes with ice on my ankle cheering for all the runners who were behind me, runners who might not beat the bridge, whose race would be ended not by and injury, but who simply couldn't get there fast enough.
So I knew it might happen, I made the choice to take the PT's recommendation and not finish the race, I had a great time, an amazing weekend, which included another great reception with Team Running Strong. Still, the result sucked and is basically a failure. For the first time ever I've got a DNF on my record and part of me cringes to think about it. Could I have kept going, pushed through, lived that mantra of "run with your heart"? Should I have? It's been 4 days since the race and my leg is back to its normal size and I feel fine. It has me second guessing my choice to stop at the tent, to let myself be sidelined. I'm kicking myself a little bit for pulling. I made it 18 miles, which a lot of people tell me is a huge deal, they say I should be proud. But 18 isn't 26.2. 18 doesn't get you a medal. At 18 you don't call yourself a marathoner. 18 doesn't earn you the right to wear the finishers shirt and 18 doesn't allow me to say "I did a marathon in DC." Which brings me back around to why I was there, to represent Team Running Strong and have fun. I got my MarathonFoto email yesterday and it went a long way to tamp down the regrets- I look like I'm having a blast. I'm happy. So that's what I'll hold onto when I start to kick myself for DNFing- I had fun.
A note about Team Running Strong- they are the reason I even signed up for the marathon. I had such a great time being part of their team last year, that I couldn't imagine not being part of it again. I looked forward all year to the reception, where we got to hear Billy Mills talk again and see some of the great programs that our money is funding. One thing that I like best about the team is that it feels like family. Even though it's been a year since I was last in DC at the NMAI, it was like visiting old friends and catching up. I sat and talked to Billy for a bit and met his wife. I got to chat with some new team members and it is always great to see Steve Hill, who lead the ceremony. He spoke about being at Standing Rock and helping the Water Protectors there, and it was really nice to hear from someone who has been there instead of relying on the news and social media. I always feel so much lighter after the ceremony and I'm sure that contributed to my general calmness for this race. Even though I didn't finish, being part of this team is still the most important part of the weekend and the most fulfilling. To help out Team Running Strong, please visit their website. To help out the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, there are a few places you can look. Sacred Stone Camp has a lot of information on their Facebook Page as does the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. They need our support. If anyone has any other ways to support the Water Protectors, please let me know and I will link to those places as well.
And now... pictures!
Steps for Kindness
And now for a success! This one actually occurred before my aborted attempt at 26.2. This was a much smaller race. In fact it was just me doing what I love the best- running around like a fool in the woods hoping that I don't bite it or get lost (hint: I did both).
This year at school my WEB Crew is attempting to change the culture of our school, part of that was hosting a Month of Kindness, which was funded by Random Acts (www.randomacts.org) and it was a huge success. Our school has had struggles, we have been on the persistently dangerous list for years (just recently getting off) and our kids have dealt with stuff that middle schoolers really shouldn't have to deal with. All the good stuff that is happening is often overshadowed and it felt like we needed to make it a focus to really recognize the kids who are doing great things every day. So we decided to do a Month of Kindness and it was awesome. A side effect of teaming up with Random Acts was that I discovered all sorts of other great things that the organization does, so when a virtual race came across my email I knew I was in. The 5k was called Steps for Kindness and was in support of Random Acts and Homeboy Industries.
I headed out on a really rainy morning to my favorite trails. These are the trails I grew up running on. The woods that my friends and I had adventures in as we tried to find our way from the trails, through the woods and back to our houses. There are places that feel like home- this is one of them. The only better option would have been if I was out in Wyoming running up a mountain, but for the middle of October, this was pretty great. So it was muddy and rainy and cold and I was completely by myself (a stark contrast to the 60,000 who I joined at Marine Corps) and it was basically perfect. I hit the trail and got muddy and sweaty and climbed up hills and trudged through the creek and laughed as I slid on the single tracks. I stopped to take pictures and just enjoy being in the woods. I smiled. A lot. I bit it big time and sat there in the mud for a minute and just laughed before getting up and bounding off. I stopped to chat with the only other runner crazy enough to be out. I ran a really slow 5k, but I had a blast doing it. I found myself realizing that I might not like racing so much as I just like getting out there and having fun, having an adventure, which is something I've known but I tend to lose track of once the daily grind of the school year starts. I'm glad I signed up for this race because I needed that reminder. Plus I got an awesome huge medal, which looks great on my medal rack.
So this race was a success in more ways then one. I ran it the way I like best (as I put it in one tweet "slow, wet, messy and fun."), got a cool medal and supported great programs.
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