Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Columbus Reflections

I didn't really know how the feel the days following the Columbus Marathon.  The first few days were BUSY as I prepared my family for a trip to Disney World that Wednesday.  It was not easy, as everything I did had to be secret.  We were surprising the kids by taking them out of school, telling them we were all getting flu shots and heading to the airport instead.  That day was priceless... one I won't forget.  One the kids won't forget either.  The second part of that surprise was that Krista, Martin and their kids (who my kids adore) would be joining us there.  So the busy-nesss of that week took precedence over my wounded ego and sore legs.  While in Disney World, spending everyday on my feet walking for hours, I was constantly reminded of what had just taken place that previous Sunday.  Getting on and off rides, my quads would grumble, I still hadn't really reflected on that race.

Upon arriving home, once the suitcases were unpacked and life had returned to "normal", I had my moment of reflection.  What did I think of that race?  Was I disappointed in myself?  Was I "grieving"?  The truth of the matter is I just don't know.  Was that failure to nail a BQ as bad as this one?  Not even close.  There is no comparing the races.  The similarities remain in the race day events and the people who were there.... the fact that it was Columbus, that the weather was beautiful, that my sister had flown in, that Sarah had run with me, that Krista and her friends did the half marathon and that John was a nervous wreck.  Everything else is vastly different... particularly how I viewed my performance.

Up until this past summer, I believed that not only was a 3:50 the best time I could have achieved last year, but also a better time than I should have been able to get.  I recalled the painful shuffling, the aching back, the burning quads and blistered toes.  I considered myself quite a champion for shaving off the kind of time I did from one marathon to the next.  And is that admirable?  Certainly!  But I also realize that last year, I was very capable.  Perhaps not by much, but I believe had I entered that race with the mindset I have now, I would have qualified last year.  I had convinced myself that I was not capable of a qualifying time.  I entered that race not sure if I would even hit the 4 hour mark.  I just didn't know.  I had no race to compare with this kind of training.  I was told by many, "You are ready, you will do this."  I didn't believe them.  Had those same people known the state of my mind at the time, they may have been more likely to say "Why bother running this thing?  You've already decided you aren't capable and you will not succeed."  I had not trained my body or my brain to tolerate suffering and push negativity aside.  That is what champions are made of.  I did not realize that the elite racers that win marathons do not necessarily cruise in unscathed.  That they experience ridiculous amounts of pain and suffering during their races.  Pain and suffering that they allow and accept as part of winning.  I had not trained myself very well to work through fatigue, to go faster when I had "nothing left" and at all costs, to do so with a positive mental mindset.  All the things I did over this past summer, I did not know to do last summer.  I woke up yesterday morning to an e-mail from Kathleen.  She told me about the guy who had paced her for her first qualifying marathon.  This man was legally blind, ran a 2:54 marathon in Boston and came out a week or two later to pace her for her race.  During her training, Lyn told her to "put a metal rod in her pocket and bend it with her mind".  She said she did not actually do that, but that those were the types of things he would say.  This is a guy who also ran for the U.S. team for the Para-Olympics in Sidney and Atlanta.  I keep going back to the words "Lyn was legally blind".

As I take a look back at last year's race, I find myself wanting to kick my own ass, but then again, I realize I simply didn't know any better.  I remember growing up and asking my parents for things I wanted and upon hearing "no", would go into a tantrum of "but WHY NOT??"  My mom's response was simple, yet always the same... "You can't give what you haven't got."  Back then, no more annoying phrase could have been uttered.  Today, however, I'm finding myself kind of using it in regard to that marathon.  I couldn't do what I didn't know to do.  This experience has produced a tremendous amount of frustration, no doubt.  But it has also provided the opportunity for a tremendous amount of learning and growth.  Would I be the same runner, or person for that matter, had I qualified last year?  Well no, I'd have a big Boston medal dangling from my rear view mirror.... SOMEBODY better hope her car never gets broken into.  Am I praying that I've learned all the necessary lessons to qualify... uh, yes.  Most definitely I am hoping that all has been learned and that God sees he has beaten the virtue of patience into me.... I don't think he needed two years to do it, but it's best not to argue with God.

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