Here’s one thing I know for sure: ATTITUDE is everything. PERSPECTIVE is everything.
I was really excited about this race. Getting to the start line feeling fresh and strong and capable after running my fastest ever marathon 6 weeks before was in itself a huge accomplishment. I was so jittery, so filled with energy and emotion when I arrived. So happy to be there. ELATED, actually.
I love the Delaware beaches. This place is HOME to me. On the drive there on Friday I couldn’t take the smile off of my face. My cheeks literally hurt from all the smiling I did. We were driving along on a route I have taken more times in my life than I can count. Memories flooded me and filled me up.
This place is where I grew up in so many ways – I spent every single summer of my life here from the time I was a baby until I was in my early 20s. When I was a little girl, my mother would drive me and my three sisters there at the beginning of every summer. She would feel nervous as we crossed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge – it is a huge bridge – and in order to keep all of us quiet so that she could concentrate on her driving over the bridge she told us that it was a magical bridge. She called it “The Wishing Bridge” and said that if you are completely silent and do not make a sound or say a word as you cross the bridge you can make a wish and it will come true. I had no idea this bridge was even called the “Bay Bridge” until I was a teenager. I thought everyone called it The Wishing Bridge and that everyone made wishes as they crossed it. I have dreamed a lot of dreams over that bridge in my 36+ years of life … I’ve made a lot of wishes. Some of them were silly – wishing for a kitten or a brother or a certain boy to like me. As I got older and I realized my mom had made this whole thing up, I didn’t care. In fact, it made me love it more. Especially when I became a mother myself. Dreaming and wishing is an important and essential part of the way I live my life … it is as necessary to me as the air I breathe.
I NEVER talk on that bridge. And I ALWAYS make a wish. I will never stop dreaming. Ever.
Every marathon teaches you something about yourself. Every marathon brings you to your knees at some point – it is up to you to pick yourself up. To keep going. To fight. To find the courage and the strength to see the beauty of what is happening within you, even as you hurt. Rehoboth was no exception to that rule. In fact, Rehoboth was the most beautiful and the most difficult of any marathon I have ever run. I loved it so much and I am entirely grateful for the experience.
About a half mile into the race I knew something was wrong. I knew it was going to be a really tough day for me. A side stitch on my left side pinched me. I told myself I would run through it and it would go away. I have run through side stitches before. I checked in with my self. My breathing felt easy and controlled. My heart was soaring, I was so happy. My legs felt as strong as ever. I didn’t understand why I was having a side stitch. Could I somehow be dehydrated? I didn’t think so. Maybe it was reducing my fiber the days leading up to the race? Could that be backfiring? I tried to just concentrate on my breathing and on how strong I felt everywhere else. I tried to just soak in the amazingness of where I was.
Miles 1-6: 7:16, 7:13, 7:03, 7:18, 7:18, 7:19
The stitch was not going away. I ate one of my gels at Mile 5 and then my stomach started to cramp up. Awesome. At Mile 10 I ate another one… this is typical for me I always eat every 5 miles in races. But by Mile 12.5 I was on the side of the road, hiding behind a bush, dealing with GI issues. Seriously this was happening to me now? So early in this race.
Miles 7-12: 7:31, 7:31, 7:26, 7:21, 7:26, 7:21
I was determined to get myself back on track. But I was frustrated. I forged ahead and tried my best to focus on all of the GOOD things that were happening: this course was BEAUTIFUL, I was running in a place I LOVE so so much, my legs felt AMAZING and strong…
And then my side stitch moved over to the right side. It was a GRIPPING pain. That is the best way for me to describe it. My ride side just hurt so very much. I ran through it until Mile 15. Somewhere during Mile 15 I stopped dead in my tracks and stretched. Breathed. Tried to collect myself and give myself a pep talk. I ate another gel here, just like usual (by the way in case you are wondering, I understand now that I am need of a complete overhaul of my nutrition/hydration plan). I tried to keep going, to stand tall and feel good, but by Mile 17 I was really in rough shape. I stopped at a water stop that had a bathroom and waited in line to use it. When I was done I gave my water bottle to the volunteers. I carry my water and had been filling it up but I just didn’t want to hold the bottle any more. I would drink from cups from this point on.
Miles 13-19: 7:49, 7:47, 7:48, 8:17, 7:57, 9:06
Mile 20 was terrible. I was running through such awful side stitch pain and I just didn’t know what to do to make it go away. I ate a gel again (so dumb) and after that I was toast.
My stomach killed. I tried to engage my core even more, tried to push through it and relax and breathe … and then the next thing I knew, I was walking. I hung my head low … felt sad and defeated.
And wouldn’t you know, that is where the race photographer was!?! Of course it was.
For the next few miles I would run a few steps, feel terrible, and then walk. I stretched my arms up. I pinched my side, massaged it, breathed through it. I felt angry and frustrated and sad. I felt helpless.
Miles 20-23: 8:47, 12:43, 11:55, 10:10
And then, at some point during the 23rd mile as I was walking along on this beautiful trail trying my best to focus on how lucky I was to be there because I’d decided I would just walk the rest of the way, I heard a voice come up from behind me. “Pace of Me?” she said. I lifted my head and we made eye contact – it was Kristy from “Run the Long Road.” We had never met before but we knew through Twitter that we would both be there (hello, one of the best things about social media). She told me I better start running. That I was way too strong and fast to be walking right now. She didn’t care WHY I was walking, but told me it was time to run. I could hang on to her. And then I woke up from my pity party and realized this girl was awesome and that she was right. I was going to hurt whether I walked or ran so I better JUST RUN. And that’s what I did.
The colors changed for me in that moment. I went from feeling completely pulled apart and sad to feeling strong and hopeful and vibrant. No, I was not running fast. NO my pain did NOT go away, or even dissipate. But I was running. And I didn’t stop. I ran into the finish with a time of 3:41:59. I finished with a smile on my face.
Miles 24-26.8 (I over ran the course I think because of my stops!): 10:08, 8:35, 8:30, 8:23
Reflecting on Rehoboth has been so good for me. My stomach hurt for two whole days after that race. My legs felt amazing though – no lingering soreness AT ALL. For some reason they didn’t get the message that I ran a marathon? This shows me that I have the fitness and the strength to run a marathon like none I have ever run. And I am determined to make that happen. I really, really am. Yes, it was frustrating to once again be faced with these problems and this time was worse than any other I have experienced. But I think that sometimes you have to be taken to the lowest point so that you can reach your full potential. I have a tendency to learn things the hard way and this is just another example of that.
Marathon #11 was an eye opener for me. I am going to resolve my nutrition/hydration issues and be a stronger runner because of it. I will forever be grateful for the experience.