I decided to run this marathon in order to raise funds and awareness concerning child sex trafficking. On race morning, we had almost hit our 2nd goal of $3275 ($125/mile run) over at TrampleOn.org.
I found out on Friday morning that the weather was likely going to be about 34 degrees at race time. Training all summer for a fall marathon had not prepared me for this. I ran to the basement to try and dig up some winter running clothes. I also made my family go pick me up some $1 gloves while I was at a speaking engagement Friday morning.
After the engagement, we went to the XL Center in Hartford to pick up my race packet.
It was nice to see LaraBar and Food Should Taste Good there, as well as Navitas Natural (all things my kids can eat!). We then went and stayed at a friend's house about 30 minutes from Hartford.
I woke up early on race morning to have breakfast and get ready. I wanted to read something, but wasn't sure what. I remembered that my friend Heather had suggested, about a week before when I was feeling discouraged about something not marathon-related, I might find Psalm 56 helpful. This is what I read in the translation I had open on my Bible app:
Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me;
Fighting all day long he oppresses me.
My foes have trampled upon me all day long,
For they are many who fight proudly against me.
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?
I cried. I didn't even know the term "trampling" was in the Bible! And yet, I choose "Trample On" to be my theme for fundraising. I thought, This is why I run today, that those whose lives have been trampled on by man can find hope. Jesus, be my strength.
We got there early and parked, and after several port-a-potty stops, it was time to line up.
I decided to take a screen shot of the weather on my phone before I handed it over (I didn't run with the phone).
Ready to go!
Kids not all that happy about getting up in the dark before 6 AM!
Am I yawning already?
I hung out with the 4:20 pace group (that's total running time, about a 10-minute mile), since the race predictor had me at 4:13. I hoped to do between 4:20 & 4:30 if nothing went wrong.
And we were off!
As I've said before, running is almost always hard for me. Even with tapering and barely running for the last 3 weeks, it felt hard from the beginning.
My family caught a glimpse of me at mile 5. I was SO happy to see them!
I was already hurting, so it was great to see familiar faces.
This is what my kids did for at least 2 hours of the race:
They slept :) Understandable since we dragged them out of bed so early.
Around mile 7, I decided to try and take off the long-sleeve shirt I was wearing under my Trample On tank. I ran for about a mile like that, but it was too cold. In this process, I lost the pace group. I tried to catch back up, but it felt like too much.
I reminded myself, This is my race. Not the pace guy's race, not any of my running club friends' race. It's my race, and if I need to slow down, I will.
Everything in my body started to really hurt. Not only did my legs hurt, it was so cold I kept coughing very painful coughs, as if my lungs and throat had freezer burn. I was dehydrated, even though I had my water belt and was taking 1-2 cups of water at every water stop.
I desperately wanted to stop.
I thought of the kids, and I convinced myself to keep running until mile 10. Then the stomach upset began. I decided to look for a port-a-potty around mile 12-13.
They say running is mostly mental. They are right.
I had done all I knew to prepare. And yet the running was torture. This is part of why I wanted to try & run with a pace group. If I allow myself to run too slow, it's actually harder than pushing myself to run a faster pace. I kept just talking myself into going another mile.
At mile 15, I started experiencing shortness of breath. I wasn't sure what to do. One of my secret fears was that something would happen to me while running. I did have an eating disorder and had some trouble with my heart at one point. I thought of the Schiebers. I do not know these people (they are friends of friends), but Sarah lost her husband and the father of her 3 kids Chad when he died running the 2007 Chicago Marathon.
I did not want to quit. I wanted to finish - for the kids. But I also was scared.
I decided to walk.
I decided I could walk 11.2 miles if that's what needed to happen. I knew I could do that. My health was not worth trying to get to the finish line at a specific time.
So I walked for a while. I started running again slowly. I would run through the chorus of a song playing on the iPod, and then I'd walk again. After a while, I felt as if I could take a full breath again, so I challenged myself to try and run a mile.
After this point, I'd run a mile and then run/walk the next mile. I was starving, so I focused on consuming a gel and some more of my energy chews, as well as chugging water every chance I got.
I got to mile 20 - another moment of joy! Only a 10 K left! You can see my pace, which was 10:26 at the half, was now 10:57. I didn't even care. My stomach was getting more upset from the chews/gel and the water (this is within the realm of normal for me), so I found another pit stop. I continued to run a mile and run/walk the next mile.
I did this until mile 23, at which point I saw the 5:00 pace team. I decided I would try and run the final 3.2 with them, since I hoped to run the last 2.2 anyway.
We ran on some roads and eventually got to the bridge back into Hartford, which we ran over out of town toward the beginning of the race.
Oh, what a beautiful sight the city was!
Then the shortness of breath came back full force. I was less than 2/3rds of a mile from the end (I asked the pace leader).
I decided, once again, to walk.
I watched the pace team take off in front of me. Honestly, I didn't care that much. My pride wanted to run the whole thing anyway, so that I could say I did, but clearly, my body was not up for it. I continued to walk for a little while, and then alternate running and walking as I had before.
When I got a bit closer to the end, I decided I could handle a continuous slow jog. I really wanted to run across the finish line. I turned the corner, saw the end, saw the clock said 5:00:08. Then I stopped looking at the clock and started to look for my fan club :)
I saw Olivia, cheering for me! She took this picture.
There I am, trampling on child sex trafficking as I crossed the finish line of the Hartford Marathon, giving all the glory to God.
For the kids!!!!
I was so happy!
Someone wrapped me in a wrap thingie that they give you at the end. Someone else gave me a ING Hartford water bottle. I was looking around for my family, feeling a bit confused. I walked almost to the exit, and decided instead to turn around and go to the medical tent.
I just wanted to be safe.
They gave me chicken broth (yummy warm goodness!), took my pulse (the guy couldn't find it and used the machine - very high, of course), blood pressure (also high, especially for me), oxygen saturation (100%), listened to my heart, listened to me breath, and said I was fine, that I probably just got freezer burn of the lungs and throat. I still couldn't inhale fully, but I was released to go.
I exited the tent and went to find the actual exit from the race. Then I saw the people with the medals! I had completely forgotten that I hadn't received my medal yet!
It took me a while to find my fan club because we forgot to make a plan about meeting. Plus, I had no phone and no way to tell them I was going to the med tent, so they were a bit frantic, trying to locate me.
But they found me! And Olivia gave me a wreath she made for me!
Yes, I felt as bad as I looked. This is the next shot of me and my glorious finish.
At a certain point, I realized the clock at the finish line was the time from start of the race, not my chip time from when I actually crossed the start (several minutes difference). So I thought, Maybe I did cross in under 5 hours!
So we went to see if we could find my actual time.
And there it is!
The lady with the times asked if we wanted a family picture.
I learned a lot this race, which I will save for another post :) Most of all, I finished the race - for the kids!
OK, and now to make a long post even longer :)
I want to thank Pastor Craig Burns for inspiring me to run for God's glory! He started running ultra marathons (distances over 26.2 miles) in his 50's after being diagnosed with lymphoma. He often raises money for causes while racing, and he tends to be a "back-of-the-packer" like me :) I started attending his church in Virginia in 2000 during a visit to my dad's because it was the only church with the service time in the yellow pages.
Also want to thank Colleen, Heather & Damian for challenging me that day last March in TGI Fridays after the Half of Quincy to consider running a marathon.
I'm forever thankful for all my friends and family who supported me in so many ways in running this race, especially Roy, Bear, JJ & Olivia!
And I will forever be inspired by my wonderful father, Jack, who has fought the good fight with courage and perseverance. Dad, you make me aspire to goodness. I love you so much. I could not have asked for a more amazing father.
I added my marathon bracelet next to my LIVESTRONG bracelet that he gave me, which I never take off.
Thanks, everyone! You inspire me to live my amazing!
There is still an opportunity to give, if your heart is moved to do so. The kids & I thank you!
Posted at imperfect prose on 1/9/13