Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I cried...

Three years ago when I ran a marathon I titled my post "I Cried at Mile 18" (read it here). This time I just cried. I cried for a myriad of reasons. 
I signed up for this race thinking to redeem myself from last time. Not that it was so horrible, but I really did want to "run" the whole way. If you read the last experience I had to walk the last 5 miles or so. I don't know why I felt the need to do better than this, but I should have left well enough alone. 
I was a little sketchy going into this race. I was running alone, I had had some terrible runs in the weeks prior, I didn't want to get up at 3:30 am.
But let me not get ahead of myself.
I want to start off with how I actually started the race.

Look at me, here, by myself. I survived. I just horned my way next to a fire barrel while I was waiting and I was happy (and warm) as a clam (are clams warm?). I took this picture just as the sun came up over the mountains, the light and warmth was such a morale boost. I was happy to be there.

This was my first cry. Seeing the sea of people stretched out before me and feeling the zip in the air as everyone started forward on their goal. All these people (one way or another) had prepared to be here. This wasn't a group of slackers. This was a group of people that were dedicated enough to 1) sign up all the way back last fall, 2) train for at least 6 months and 3) get up before the sun to be high up on a mountain in the cold, and I was one of them. Big boost for the state of mind.

I don't know exactly what point in the race this was but look at me, I was relaxed and happy.
Running photos of me aren't my favorite, but I can deal with this one, if for nothing else than to confirm to me that running is a happy place.

I texted this picture of me to Brad and Caroline about the 7 mile mark. 
My text said, "1/4 done, doing well." I remember how good I felt. Only 3 more of what I had just done! Totally doable.

(I can tell by this picture that I was in pain. See how I'm holding my shoulders? I think I'm trying to lift myself up and keep the weight off my knees. It was before I started walking in ernest though because I still had my sleeves rolled down.)

Somewhere around 1/2 way my knees started hurting. It was the same pain I had experienced last time I ran this marathon, only about 8 miles sooner. 
At this point I had only made it 1/2 way. I knew from past experience that I couldn't last the rest of the way. I had a decision to make. I ran as long as I could (maybe to mile 14.5). Then I had to decide,

Should I quit? 
-After all I had made it longer than a 1/2 marathon. 
-No one would blame me. 
-I wasn't out to prove much. 
-I wasn't letting anyone down (except maybe myself) if I quit.
-12 miles would take a long time to walk 

Then, I remembered my goal (to do better than last time). I knew this was no longer an option, but in order to even save face with myself I had to at least finish. I knew I would remember quitting for a long time to come. I didn't know if I could face myself if I quit. I knew it was going to be extremely hard, but until I persevered on, I didn't know how hard. I had thoughts of quitting (from pain and humilitation) almost at every mile after that until I reached the end.
This was my first sad cry of the race.
Next cry: I lost pace with those who were in my same running category (this isn't a real thing, but  you become accustomed to those running around you. They run like you, they dress like you, they seem to have basically the same mentality as you and you feel like you can relate to them)
Third cry: After a while the 5 hour marker passed me. I knew there was no keeping up
More crying: The 5 1/2 hour marker passed me. I tried running with them for a while but in the end I fell behind. Never to catch up.
I cried some more: After a while I started noticing people around me that were clearly on a lower running scale than me. Those who were older, chubbier (yes there are a few), and less athletic. I was walking, they were still running. I cried.
Still more crying: The police officers who had been patrolling the race rode past and told us we had a half hour to be out of the canyon. I didn't know how far I still had to go but I knew they wouldn't be telling us if we we were almost out. Sob.
The crying didn't end: Finally, right toward the end, people who had walked the whole race were starting to catch up. What a blow to my ego. Luckily by that time I was on flat ground and my knees recovered just enough to walk a little faster. 
The reasons all blurred together: I was embarrassed, my ego had taken hit after hit, my knees and feet hurt excruciatingly, my fingers were swollen to the point of hurting, I was in the last 50 people (out of 9,000) to cross the finish line, I felt bad that I had made Brad and Caroline and Arnell wait for so long, the vendors and barriers were being taken down by the time I got in, no one was in the grandstands cheering, I was more than an hour and a half later than my anticipated time...

Look at this picture, I'm pretty sure I was deep into a good cry here. Luckily sweat an sunglasses obscured most of this. (also take note of my ring here being swallowed alive by the puffy skin on my finger)

 Before you get too depressed though I have to point out some of the many good points about this race.
There were many, many fun and funny people along the way. Ogden Technical University was one of my favorite. Here I am posing with their poster of Grumpy Cat. They also had other signs with Yoda, Napoleon Dynamite, Ron Burgundy, Nacho Libre' etc. etc. etc.

 I WAS prepared mentally - even though I had my doubts. 

The weather and the scenery were FABULOUS!! So so beautiful!

Brad and Caroline texted me throughout with words of encouragement. I don't think I could have made it except I knew they were cheering me on with words like
"You don't have to go fast... you just have to go"
"You should be PROUD of yourself! Wish I was there walking with you"
The picture above is Brad meeting me right at the end. He hugged me and walked for a little way with  me I  of course cried from exhaustion,  and let down, but most especially from the support and encouragement.

I told Brad at the end. "One good thing is I NEVER have to do this again if I don't want to."
And after all was said and done, I got the SAME metal that all the other runners got. I finished. I crossed that line.
  I fought the good fight, I finished the course!


Jennifer Miller said...

Oh what a good post! You did something most people dream of doing! Not very many people run or even walk a marathon it their lifetime. You have done 2! You have my props, even if you walked! I would have stopped when my knees hurt. Are your knees OK now? Way to Go!

Kristen said...

This post made me cry and I didn't even run the marathon. You are awesome and have great tenacity Stef!

Annette said...

Such a good post! You are an inspiration to me Stef! Way to train all these months and even run all the way to MY house! I loved that! You FINISHED 2.. TWO marathons!! (and looked fabulous in every one of those pictures by the way). Loved reading your thoughts along the course and I'm so sorry about your knees, but I am proud of you! I should have been texting you words of encouragement that day, but my thoughts were totally with you! Love ya Stef!

karensumpter said...

With all that crying it must have been a therapeutic run;). I'm so proud of you for doing that and for finishing! "Slow and steady wins the race." That's what we say at our house. I love the picture of brad walking/running with you!

Lindseys said...

Way to go, Stef! We were glad to get to see you while you were here. Your post reminded me of something President Uchtdorf said in conference a while back: "My dear friends, no matter how many times you have slipped or fallen, rise up! Your destiny is a glorious one! Stand tall and walk in the light of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ! You are stronger than you realize. You are more capable than you can imagine."