I write about my life and life itself seen through my eyes for who can write through the experiences of others if not their own?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Always An Adventure


“Anything can happen in a marathon” is a phrase I’ve heard many times. I agreed with it to some extent. There are things that should not happen if you take the necessary steps to avoid them, I said, but after my last marathon, I agree with it 100%. 

I trained for Steamtown marathon in one of the worst imaginable conditions. It was hot and outrageously humid. My body does not react well to humidity. I sweat like a pig (do pigs sweat?) and I must hydrate more than my counterparts. However, I ran and I sweat, and I ran and I sweat and each time I was completely drenched in perspiration, and I never once had an issue, no cramps, no dizzy spells, no fatigue. 

I tapered carefully; made sure I had enough hours of sleep, hydrated properly, watched my salt and wine intake and rested.  

When marathon day came, temperatures had dropped lower than my training days making it theoretically better. Major YAY for me. Nevertheless, having trained with a bottle of water in my hand, I decided to simulate my training runs and carry one with me. 

First 8 miles feel good, not great, but good. I can do with good. A woman tells me she repeats "All things are possible in the God that strengthens  me", I smile and tell her it is one of my favorite scriptures. At 12 I noticed my pace was already a few minutes slower than my goal, so let me adjust my goal. It will still be good and good is all I’m looking for.  There is a slight discomfort in my calf. I'm going to ignore it. It’s time for some music, let’s turn the IPod on…no music is coming out of this little device, no problem, I can still have a good marathon with no music, after all I trained all summer purposely with no music so I could tune into my body.

At 14…there is a slight cramp developing in my calf. Slight but noticeable enough to stretch, after all I already determined I am not going to PR today.  A woman holds a sign "All things are possible in the God that strengthens me",

At 16, the doors to crampland have opened and I am reluctantly running into it. “Salt, get me some salt” I yelled at my friend’s boyfriend cheering on the sidelines. A family cheering on runners sat at a picnic table eating. “I need salt”, I tell them. I gulp down a handful of salt. That should do it, I tell myself.  A man runs in front of me, the back of his shirt reads "All things are possible in the God that strengthens me".

It is now 18 miles into it and I am running and stopping, the salt is not working yet, maybe soon.  I have run out of my Endurolytes and I am chewing on my last “block”. I am eating them more frequently hoping they will take the cramps away.  Now, I spot a package of blocks someone dropped, I pick them up and continue.  I eat one more gel, I don’t want it, I feel I have enough energy to run, but I can’t. 

I am at 20 and people are cheering me and telling me to focus. I am focused, but the cramps are not letting me run more than a few minutes at a time. A woman offers me Biofreeze, I spray a generous amount. The cramps continue, I stop, I jog, I curse, I ask at aloud why? There is no reason for these cramps, no reason.  

I see the sign for 22, now I am 20 minutes from what my goal would have been, but it doesn’t matter, all I want is for this pain to stop. A Charlie horse assaults me as I try to get into a rhythm. I try hard not to scream. I consider DNF. A man watches me in his bike and dismounts. He massages my leg and I continue.  People are cheering, they are telling me not to stop, they yell it’s only a few miles away, pride lasts forever, I want to yell back at them and tell them I know all of that, but the cramps have a mind of their own and there is nothing I can do to stop them.  

At 24 all the salt, blocks, gels and Gatorade I have consumed in an effort to stop the cramps are making me nauseous, and my stomach is upset, but my legs are responding better. The salt is now working and the cramps are not as severe. I get into a trot, and try not to stop.  I am trying to enjoy the experience somehow, stay positive, but every step is difficult. 

I can hear the finish line cheers now. I am running up that hill. My feet barely lift off the ground and I trip. I catch my balance again and continue.  I pray I don’t cramp before crossing the finish line, I want to cross the finish line running.  

I run to it. My friend Kelsi in her first marathon is already wrapped in a blanket. “Why would anyone want to do this more than one time when it hurts so much? She demands. 

“Because we can” I reply.  

And because each time it’s an adventure. Anything can happen in a marathon.