Monday, April 8, 2013


Why would anyone run a marathon!? 
(with an accompanying look of horror on the face of the person asking-- Ben, mom, Shanny...) 
But then again, I uttered the exact same question six years ago while watching Kyle run the St. Louis GO! 26.2 and then again, when Jennifer & Jessica ran their respective ½s.
As fun and energy as there was among the crowd & runners, and as much as I slightly envied everyone plodding along, I knew that I wouldn’t ever want to run that far.  Heck, there was no way I would ever be ABLE to run that far.  I had barely run farther than a mile and back then a 5K was a huge accomplishment!
Then I suddenly started running a little.  As I completed my very first 13.1 with Jessica in Oklahoma City, I still thought that “marathon people” were slightly nuts and that thought was reinforced while running the Fort Worth 13.1 with Laura (when I was ill prepared and literally thought I might not make it past mile 11.) 
In December something flipped.  As I was making the u-turn in the park around mile 7, I watched the  long line of FULL marathoners jogging toward White Rock Lake and I had a fleeting thought: “Now THOSE are REAL athletes…” 
Don't get me wrong, I was super-proud of myself and my new PR time, but there was a slight tug in my heart.  Even though I had just run (hard) for 2 hours and vastly improved my initial time (by 15 minutes) I couldn't help the feeling inside that I only did half the race.  I also had the weird that I could have kept running for a while longer… It also didn’t help that Kyle believed that I could do it.
A week later, I stumbled across a quote by Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did.” 
The first thing that came to mind was running a full. 
So I set my sights on April 7 with the GO! St. Louis Marathon.
This thought is what got me out of bed on all of those cold, dark mornings in December, January, February, and March.
As I packed the car and got ready to leave town, I had one more class to teach at Amarillo College... During the last 5 minutes of class I jumped up and landed wrong... as in very wrong as my ankle gave out and I landed squarely on my behind.  Whaaaaaattt?!?
I don't really remember much after that because all that I could think about was my weak, swelling ankle and all of the 5:30a.m. runs that I had done for nothing. 
I called a close friend, cried, rested/iced/wrapped/ibuproferined my foot and then cried some more.
On Tuesday morning I could barely walk, much less run.
I had been visualizing the morning of April 7 and thinking about this trip for months but knew that I would sink into a dark depression if I stayed in Texas and didn't at least make the drive to see my family/friends in Missouri.
I propped my leg on the dash and set the cruise...
The boys and I started another "adventure" and I even told myself we were making this a real vacation by stopping in Tulsa & staying in a hotel.  Of all of my options, this was honestly the most reasonable that allowed me to stay off my foot/feet.
the boys strapped in the back with suckers
They must have intuitively known that I was on the edge of an emotional breakdown because I barely heard a peep from the back seat until we stopped in Tulsa, Oklahoma for the night.
 passed out in the back seat
Hot dogs & wine the night before.  LOVE this picture of Jennifer! 
(I didn't really partake in either, but we had 6 kids with us...)
After talking to a couple of trainers, we came to the conclusion that I could at least go to the start line and just see how far I could get. Jennifer also volunteered to drive us down there and agreed find & pick me up at any mile marker if needed. 

waiting for the race to start and grateful the beautiful weather

running through the Anheuser-Busch brewery
sea of people approaching "holy hill" (mile 6)
Oddly enough, my foot was the least of my worries during the race.  Yes, it was a little stiff in the first mile but overall it was completely fine.  When I saw Jennifer at the top of “holy hill,” I felt great and I had a euphoric/grateful feeling wash over me!  Soon the sun, the hills, and the 70° heat started taking its toll (not quite the dark freezing temperatures I had trained in)
feelin' good at mile 9
I soon realized that I was to the ½ way point and wandering into uncharted race territory. 
Everything past mile 18 was hell. I felt depleted (mentally & physically) and I somewhat went on autopilot, thinking about that fat medal waiting at the end. 
By the time the finish line was in sight, it was about 80° out and it took everything I had to climb that last hill and cross under the inflatable archway.  I think I had a few tears—tears of joy, disbelief, and utter exhaustion. 

yards left
I really don't know how I made it, but it was an amazing feeling to be given that medal, and to see Jennifer, Dad and Kyle at the finish line.  
After stumbling around the finishing area for a considerable amount of time, dad took my medal and hung it around my neck. 
 reuniting with Kyle
awkward family hug and I was having trouble standing and he was having nausea troubles of his own.  Quite the pair.
Michael completed his first ½ marathon with a great time!

Random Notes
During the past few months I’ve had a lot of time to think about WHY I would do this to myself:
·         It truly is NOT a mid life crisis, but more of “the man” test, as I’ve tried to explain to Ben. 
If I can put my mind to running (and finishing) a marathon, I can accomplish damn-near anything. 
·         As much as I have enjoyed staying home with Kaden & Owen, I need a brand-new goal to work toward/achieve.  Undergraduate & graduate school are over, I have worked many jobs, I have created two human beings, and there aren’t many typical milestone goals to look forward to... retirement & the children moving out don't seem that exciting. 
·         Running has allowed me to carve out time for ME.  It has been one of the FEW times during the day that I am completely alone (as we only have 1 bathroom in this house, I typically don't even make it through an entire bath without someone barging in, asking a question, or crying outside the door.)  It has been close to a meditative state before everyone is awake.
·         Long runs (and personal bests) make me feel strong & powerful.
·         I want to be one of those "real athletes" that my boys (and husband) will be proud of.
Not to mention having bragging rights with my grandchildren when I look old and frail. :)

What I’ve learned over the past 6-months:
·         Running itself is simple—all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and go.  Yes, you have to possess a certain amount of physical shape, but the REAL obstacle lies in the mind. 
·         Distance running involves a tremendous amount of mental toughness.  All of those long runs are essential for getting your MIND in shape; a reassurance that you are, indeed one tough mother. 
o   I can feel fine, physically, and talk myself out of continuing in no time.  Likewise, I can psyche myself up to go out and 18 miles for an entire week… and then go out and accomplish it.
·         Running very early in the morning (before the sun rises) makes my day better …
Because no matter what else happens that day I can say, “At least I ran xx miles today.”
·         Running makes eating so much more enjoyable. 
After a double digit jog, I can swagger through the Donut Stop & dive into an apple fritter with almost zero guilt. 
I like to eat and I absolutely NEED calories to accomplish these runs & refuel for another.
·         It might seem trivial, but I’ve learned to dress quickly in the dark, without making noise. I have also learned how to calculate how many layers required in temperatures ranging from 19°-55°F. 
·         Running usually becomes easier after 3-4 miles.  Usually.  Other days it just plain sucks and I have been known to stop & call Ben to pick me up.
·         I am a beast.  I am stronger than I ever thought possible.  Ha!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Random Photos from Missouri