Unless you are using the Berkeley Lab Excercise Log to keep track of your physical efforts in an attempt to make a virtual path across the United States you probably will not appreciate my elation at getting the hell out of Virginia. After forcing my body to move 582 miles I have escaped the daily grind of the letters VA. I thought I would never get to Kentucky and now that I have succeeded I'm anxious to get out of Kentucky too.
I'm like that, complete a goal, move on to the next. I rarely bask in the sunshine of my accomplishments before thinking I ought to do more or something different, taking a bonified break does not usually exist in my world. Lately though I've been a little stuck because I didn't complete a goal and that has never happened to me before (Not that I can remember anyway, I've been trained to succeed and never let them see me sweat).
My marathon is still like a bad birth experience, I think about it, talk about it to some people, but to put it into words is still a little too much. On the drive home from Ohio I thought about titles for a post for my experience but none of them quite captured my disappointment, anguish, or acceptance of my not-quite-failure.
I got myself to the starting line after months of tedious training. I was carbo loaded (cheesecake loaded too), hydrated and made enough trips to the Port-o-Potty. I was ready. I had tears in my eyes as the helicopters flew over. I was in motion when the horn sounded. I gave Abby a thumbs up as we separated to find our own paces. I found my pace guy carrying a big stick with 3:40 written on it and balloons thumping against the designated time. Then I didn't finish the race.
Unfortunately, somewhere early my legs didn't care about the months of preparation for this event, they were done or nearly so. I fought the urge to sit down and walked a bit instead. I did follow the marathoners on their route instead of splitting with the 1/2er's, convinced I would work it through. When we rejoined the 1/2er's I knew I would soon be forced into a very major decision. Major for me that is, to have to debate quitting a race has never happened to me, even after injury I have continued on to the finish line. It must have been something about four kids and a husband at home. I looked at that two different ways: disappoint them by not finishing or disappoint them by trying to finish and possibly not making it home to them. I finished with the 1/2er's in a very respectable time, but tears of agony and frustration were in my eyes. I knew I had to drop out of the full marathon when I realized that the only reason I would be attempting to finish it would be for other people, some of whom I shouldn't even care about.
I quit for me.
And since that day I have kept in my mind the words an older woman I walked with during the race said to me: "It must not be your day." She just saw this race as another day checked off the calender, something her and her husband do every year. She knew in the big scheme of things that this one day, this one moment, this one race, would not determine a lifetime, it would determine today. It was about doing what I could on that particular day, under those circumstances and then going from that day and accepting my limitations.
I have changed my view to see it as my glass being half full. I started that day with an empty glass and filled it with 14 (horrible) miles, but I did start to fill it. Nobody who started that race had a cup full of miles that they were emptying at every mile marker, they were collecting miles as they ran. And I must admit part of the whole weekend, the whole plan, was to spend time with my friend preparing, running and then resting from our event. So really, if I think of all the fun we had, all the great food we ate and the two bizarre movies we watched, my glass really was full as I headed home. It wasn't just about the race, it was about living life.
I'll fill my cup again next year, with either the 1/2 marathon or the full marathon but you can bet I'll be back Columbus! (Then maybe you can include me in your race results and I'll get official photos because I won't be ruining your statistics by not finishing...)
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By Cammie McGovern
Release date: 13 March, 2007