The week leading up to this one…I noticed the temps. Being an ok runner in heat..I wasn’t too bothered by it. I could run about 1:37-38 halves in 80-90 degree weather. However, I made sure to hydrate well and tried to get plenty of sleep. Deep down though, I knew it was going to be tough. I ran two 22 milers in 30-40 degree weather and felt fantastic. Then ran one in warmer weather and it definitely slowed my pace, but still finished well!
Woke up December 9th at 4:10AM. Immediately checked my phone for the good ol’ weather app, and noticed..uh…what? The temps were warmer than predicated already. Brian immediately reminded me that it should drop for at least a couple of hours. “ok” I said, and got up to get ready. Tried to fuel up right and continued to hydrate until an hour before.
Made it to the DCC, and waited anxiously. We had noticed that the temps still felt pretty sticky, and the winds were picking up. I still felt confident that I could handle it. Knew I was headed for a sweat fest so lathered up so as to try my best to not chafe. After heading to the restroom for the 100th time, I ran into coach Chris Strait. Asked his advice on running this event with the weather. He didn’t give me the answer I wanted. Said to readjust my goal, and drop my pace about 15 seconds slower. He was already concerned about some of his own runners, and from what I found out later…pulled one of them off the course. Should have listened. I went with original plan, and headed to the 3:35 pace group. I needed 3:45 for Boston, and thought that would give me cushion in case I faded.
Holy smokes. I was steaming up just standing in the corral, and people were already starting to smell. Oh well…I downed my Gatorade Prime, and stared off at the porta potties…wondering if I should have went one more time. National Anthem played, and then off we went. My pace guide had the hugest foam orange cowboy hat, and I focused on that ridiculous thing as I tried to stay with the group and weave through the thousands of runners. Feeling people kick my feet and praying I didn’t trip. First few miles went by so quickly. I kept hoping it would stay this way. Made our way over the PVC pipe bridge (that’s what it looks like and what Craig Miller called it too). Was feeling pretty good and talking it up with the pacer. I did however, notice how incredibly humid it was, and how differently I was already sweating. Like a sweat that doesn’t drip, but just sticks to you. Brushed it off, and was thankful that I decided to carry a handheld, which was provided by my friend Jodelle (thank you Jodelle). Moving forward, I kept pace and even pulled ahead a bit every now and then. But in the back of my head, I kept noticing that the double digit miles were taking forever to get here. Passed by some dear friends that were spectating, gathered strength from them, and focused forward. Yuck! That smell again! Staying in a pace group provides some close quarters, and stomach churning scents.
Coming up on mile 7, I decided I better take a gel. I could already tell my body was wanting to fight a little, but kept positive and downed my first tasty refreshing lemon gel. Watched my speedy half marathon friends on the turn around, waved, and went for the marathon/half marathon split. About mile 12 or so, my good friend Mark came up on me, and said he was going to run with me a bit. This was fantastic, and much appreciated. Was fun to listen to him talk to everyone and joke with all the people he knew. Mark allowed me to hang on to the group as we entered into White Rock lake. Ugh…the lake. I did so many training runs, and ending up there at a point where I was starting to fade, was tough. Wanted out of that lake. Downed another gel at about 15, and trucked on. About mile 16 or 17, I was slowing down. Saw the pace ballons fade and fade. I had no idea how to stay healthy in this type of weather. Didn’t want to change anything up, so my fuel/hydration was basically Advocare gels and water. I did mix in gatorade at one point or another, but it was wreaking havoc on my stomach. I knew my husband was going to be coming into view soon, as was my dad. Was deciding at that point that I wanted to call it quits. I just couldn’t have the disappointment of letting myself down and so many that were rooting me on. Felt easier to just bow out. As I came up on Brian, I also looked over and saw my dad with his iPad, taking a picture of me. Oh geez. Now? I couldn’t even smile. I think I gave him a wink, as that’s all I could do. I ran a couple of steps and then full on stopped. Brian walked over to me and put his hand on my shoulder. “You’re doing great” he said. I replied with “I’m done Brian. Please just take me home. I cannot do this today. I’m absolutely done”. He continued to tell me that he knew I’d regret it, and that I couldn’t give up as I trained so hard. I fought him for about 2-3 minutes, as I was adament, then knew he was right. I needed to just get it done. Told him to meet me at about 21, and we’d take it from there. I picked up my legs, and continued out of White Rock lake. Seeing more friends that helped give me a much needed boost of energy. It makes such a difference to have that when you’re feeling beat down. Just a smile or a “good job” from a friend or anyone, is huge.
Finally made it into the 20’s. Saw Brian again. He had refilled my handheld, and decided to try and join me to keep me moving. He was so patient as I stopped, ran, stopped, ran, drank, stopped, ran. He stayed with me until about mile 22, when I told him to just go back to the car, because I wanted him ready at the finish to take my butt home! The rest of the race was the biggest gut check I’d ever experienced. My calves had cramped up so bad that I was having trouble keeping a normal gait, and I had become so sick to my stomach that I couldn’t even take another gel or drink another drink. I’d get a cup of water, and just pour it on my head. I was running by people lying on the ground, stopping to stretch cramps, people yacking, runners helping other runners, spectators offering their seats to runners who had to stop. It all inspired me, and reminded me at that moment…I was not alone. If they could keep going, then of course I could too. Plus, you get certain people in your mind that drive you forward. People who maybe can’t run right now because of injury, or someone who is going through breast cancer, or a death in the family, or the kids at Scottish Rite who struggle every day. I can struggle for a little while, when others struggle every day. This was a choice for me. Not everyone gets a choice with their struggle.
As I came up on the finish line, I was totally pulled in by the spectators. What a great finish line crowd in Dallas. Holy crap…I made it! Heard my name being called by dear sweet friends, and ran through the finish. Grabbed my medal, and walked over to the fence where I leaned my head against it, cried for just a second, then headed to find my husband. Stopped along the way to discuss with many other runners how miserable it was. You almost need that validation. Even though I knew it stunk for me…I was curious of others take on it. Grabbed my bag, checked my phone to find dozens of messages from my family and running friends. If they only knew at that moment what it meant to me!
This was not my best run or my strongest run. It was a test. A mental test. A physical test for me as a runner. I love the fantastic runs I have had. The PR’s and the age group awards and medals. But, there is something about a run that doesn’t end up how you want. A run that requires a different type of fight. A fight that you allow for yourself and for no one else. A fight that won’t end up on the leader board or a Boston qualifying time, but a fight of the human spirit. Something we all have. Pain reminds you that you are alive. Disappointment reminds you that you are human. I love running. I love who it has made me become.
Congrats to the Dallas Marathon runners yesterday.