Sunday, November 11, 2012

6th time is the charm

"She had an idea. She knew immediately it was a bad idea, but once it was there it was like a challenge. She couldn't not do it...'Bridget is single-minded in achieving her goals,' Dr. Lambert had written. 'Single-minded to the point of recklessness.'" (Brashares, Ann, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, 184-185.)

At the start of the year I wrote down my three goals and posted them on the wall by the front door:
1. Finish grad school
2. Run the Martian marathon in 5:00
3. Run the Free Press marathon in 4:33

Eleven months into the year, I STILL hadn't broken five hours and I was obsessed with it! I know in the grand scheme it doesn't mean anything, none of my friends or family care about me any more or any less if I break 5 hours, but it mattered to me!!!!!!

I had trained all winter, all summer and it was still 8 minutes out of reach. I knew if I didn't hit the time, my whole running year would have felt like a waste of time and effort and I would have been disappointed, regardless of finishing 4 marathons - 1 in the hail, 1 in freezing cold, 1 with a head cold and 1 with the flu. None of that mattered though - I wanted my time to start with a 4!!!!!!!

Free gloves!!!!
There was one last chance within driving distance - the Veterans Marathon in Columbia City, Indiana near Fort Wayne. Making the decision itself was a catch-22. If I didn't try, I would regret wasting the opportunity. If I tried and failed to PR, I would regret it. There was the slight chance, however, that I could do it. I knew my legs contained a sub 5-hour finish and I had to try!!! Surely God wouldn't give me a freak illness for a THIRD time, would He?

I've always done large marathons and I knew this was a small one. What I didn't know was that it was in small town Americana! I love small town Americana!!!! It seemed like the whole community showed up for the "worst parade ever." Men were dressed as historical characters, the high school marching band played before the start, the start was a cannon shot in the middle of the road, a crane leaned over the start, from which dangled the American flag, historic planes flew over the course twice. It was great!!!

My iPod was charged (and working!) and I tried to not obsess over the mile splits. I didn't try to force myself to slow down when the first two miles were sub 10-minutes. I trusted my training and did what felt right to my legs. The first 6 miles were completed in 1 hour exactly. I hit the half timing mat at 2:18 and started crying. "This is going to happen!" I told myself. "Don't #%ck up the second half and it'll happen!!!!!"

Unfortunately I had read a question and answer ahead of time on the discussion forum. A runner asked if it really was that hilly. The response was "YES and the wind blowing across the fields in the second half is BRUTAL!" My reaction was:
"La la la la la I can't hear you!"
Yes, it was that bad. The second half was ALL hills and really windy. Then I realized - all the running I had done after the Free Press was somehow ALWAYS into the wind - it was obviously to prepare me for this!!! Mind over matter, just don't think about it.

Step by step I kept going and every time I checked my watch and did the math, I was still on pace!!!

I got into mile 26 and saw two high school kids sitting on the curb. "It's at the second light," one promised me. My side was cramping, but I couldn't stop. I had "Lose Yourself" on repeat for the last mile and Eminem's inspiring words kept echoing through my ears and my spirit "Success is my only motherf#@!ing option, failure is not." I just kept going.

I was cruising the last 0.2 miles. I wanted to slow down and savor the moments, knowing IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN!!!! but my legs were flying and why would I ever stop that???

4:58:09 baby!!!!!!! I collected my medal then stepped off the course, laid down on the street and sobbed like a little girl.

FINALLY!!!!!! From a technical standpoint, it was the most difficult race I've ever tried and I did it!!!! I can relax now with the 5-hour monkey off my back.

In analyzing the time, I averaged 10:33 for the first half. It ballooned to 12:14 for the second, but no matter. I PRed by 10:27 :)

"Marathoning is more than a physical activity. It's a state of mind that says anything is possible!"


  1. Congratulations, great job. Sub 5 hours is very impressive.

  2. AWESOME and congrats! we hope to see you again in 2013!