Saturday I participated in the Wenatchee Marathon. I can't say "ran" because truth is, I ran/walked it. That certainly wasn't my intention and definitely not what I had trained for. My finishing time was certainly off of the goal I had set while training. But there were some obstacles that appeared that I hadn't trained for.
I hadn't trained for:
- stomach issues that plagued me all week the week before the race.
- said stomach issues rendering me useless about mile 14; fortunately there was a porta-pottie about that time where I spent a couple of minutes. From there on out I just had to run/walk as the cramps waxed and waned.
- my nutrition totally not working for me. I had been very diligent in my training in regards to nutrition. I found a system that worked for me on all of my long runs. Unfortunately, on Saturday that regimen didn't work. Every time I took in some sort of nutrition I immediately began to feel sick. That was most likely due to the stomach issues during the week.
- running 22 miles by myself. I am a social runner. I train with a large group. I don't run with music because our group usually spends the entirety of our long runs talking. Going into Saturday's marathon, the intention was to stick together. It became apparent by mile 3 that that wasn't going to happen. The race was relatively small in participants so there were times when it really felt as if I was the only one on the course. That was a little hard to mentally overcome.
From that description, it probably sounds like I had an awful race and experience. And at moments during the marathon I wouldn't have disagreed. There were moments that felt completely awful and discouraging. BUT, there were some great moments as well. Moments that I want to remember because they were wonderful learning and faith-building moments.
Friday night I had prayed that I would, 1) have a good race and meet my goal time; 2) if I couldn't meet my goal time that I would just be able finish the race; 3) that if things got tough I would have the mental fortitude to just push through them and 4) that I would always have a happy face and kind words when I saw my support crew of family members.
God is a god of miracles. He certainly could have healed my stomach issues and helped me meet my trained for goal finish time. However, He is also an omniscient God and knows how to best teach me. It would have been so easy for Him to have helped me achieve my goal. I think, though, He wanted me to learn a greater lesson.
He knew that I once and for all needed to learn that I do have the mental fortitude to persevere even under difficult and trying circumstances. I have often told one of my running friends that she is mentally tougher than I am. I think at times I have used it as an excuse to not give a 100% effort, back off a training run, or even quit a run saying "I just can't". Well, finishing Saturday's marathon proved that I can. The way the course was configured we had to run by the finish line twice before we finished. Once was at mile 6, the other at mile 16. I got sick at mile 14. I spent the next 2 miles seriously contemplating just quitting when I reached mile 16. I was sick. I had an excuse. But I had prayed that Heavenly Father would help me finish the race. So as I approached mile 16, I said to myself "Just keep going. Get past mile 16 and then you are past the point of no return." Mile 16 came and went. I had mentally willed myself beyond the easy quitting point. I can do hard things.
Now, I didn't feel significantly better, but I did notice that Heavenly Father was sending me blessings. So another lesson I learned was how to recognize blessing when things are really crappy. I noticed that the cloud cover came just as I was beginning to overheat. The wind always seemed to be at my back. My piriformis muscle that had been hurting on the last two long training runs and even the week leading up to the marathon was not an issue at all. Matter of fact, with the exception of a really bad calf cramp at mile 10 which worked itself out, I didn't have any problems with my legs until mile 25. My sweet husband always seemed to show up with just the right things to say when I needed him. And even though I was so discouraged, felt horrible, and really wanted to quit, I was still happy to see him and never got snippy or mean (I was really concerned about my ability to be nice when I was feeling crappy; that's why I prayed for that particular assistance).
Saturday I was pretty sure that I was one and done as far as marathons go. Even on Sunday I was still pretty sure that I wouldn't run another. Today? Well today I think another marathon is possible...