Thursday, October 23, 2014

My "First" Marathon

Fall Marathon Training
I am running a marathon in nine days. Nine days. It's difficult for me to explain what a strange feeling that is. I started official training when everything was green, it was hot and humid, and "fall marathon" sounded like a distant dream. Now, everything is colorful, I wore arm warmers for the first time in months on a training run recently, and the calendar says the number of days until this marathon is in the single digits. Nine. Nine days. Did I mention that? Sorry. (Not sorry.)

I'm not scared. I am, however, apprehensive, because this is my first marathon.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a minute. You've run marathons before!" says you.

"Yes, I have," reply I. However, this marathon is a first of a different sort.

Allow me to explain.

Kona Marathon - June 28, 2009 - My First First Marathon
One summer in Hawaii, I completed what was truly my first marathon. (You can read about it here, but be warned: I had not yet learned to write succinctly.) I was awarded a Lilly Teacher Creativity Endowment to complete that race, which happened to be the Crohn's and Colitis of America's Team Challenge marathon that year, and happened to be on Ed's and my third wedding anniversary, and happened to be run on the World Championship Ironman marathon course, and happened to be in HAWAII.

Kona Finish Line
This race was held in a time long before I cared about core strength, injury prevention, and the like. I had already endured one stress fracture, but I thought it was a fluke. However, because I was hazily aware of my Crohn's-y fragility, I decided to train to run/walk the Kona Marathon. I got hurt anyway. Tendinitis in my hip. Shocker.

My longest training run for my first marathon was 14 measly miles. However, unless I seriously scaled back training, there was no way I'd be able to participate in this once in a lifetime race. So I kept my mileage laughably low, flew to Hawaii, and still had a blast.  I ran/walked the Kona Marathon in 5:53:27 with my husband as my cheering section. The last 10 miles were brutal. Through that experience, my life was changed forever.

Success. I crossed the finish line.

Monumental Marathon - November 2, 2013 - My Second First Marathon
Monumental - Pre-Collapse
Fast forward to Nov. 2012, right after I was hot off a huge, post-major-injury half marathon PR at MonumentalWendy suggested that I train to run the full marathon the following year. Kona was an achievement of which I was proud, but it always goaded me a bit. I wanted to properly train to run an entire marathon. Wendy set up a training program for my second marathon that was safe but effective.

I started calling this marathon my first marathon, because it was the first I planned to run entirely, and the first for which I would I have a complete training program. Well, almost. All was well with the exception of some nagging hip pain that caused me to miss a chunk of my last three weeks of training. We toed the 2013 Monumental start line with high hopes.

You know what happened there. Digestive peristalsis failure. Collapse on mile 23. Ambulance. Telling some EMTs what was up, then apologizing. Leaving the ambulance. Walking—nay, limping—the last 3.7ish miles on what we later learned was not a hernia, but a fractured pelvis. (No wonder my hip hurt.) I finished in 5:26. I don't know the seconds because I never cared to look.

Successful failure. Like Apollo 13, things didn't happen the way we'd planned, but I finished in spite of tremendous adversity.

Monumental Marathon - November 1, 2014 - My Third First Marathon
See why I'm calling it my "first" marathon now?  This marathon is the first that I will start running and not stop until I cross the finish line. Of course, that was the plan last year. However, I am in much better shape this year. Sam's training has my strength high, and Wendy's training has my endurance and confidence high. Also, nothing is broken or severly injured. The only pain I'm experiencing is some minor plantar fasciitis in my heels. Everything is aligning for me to run the whole race and meet other goals about which I'll write later. I just need a good marathon day to realize success.

So, this is my first marathon, meaning the first marathon I'm going to whip in the rear.