I have one more runner to blog about... and by no means is she any less awesome than the other 4. I will blog about Polly when I can completely focus on her, rather than myself and my race tomorrow. But I think I should probably say just a few things regarding tomorrow's run.
Tomorrow is the day that I've have been so focused on since I got my acceptance letter in July. I will run my very first, but I am certain not my last, ultra marathon. I am nervous, but in such a different way than I was in preparation for Boston. I have slept very well this week, tapered like I should (maybe a bit too much) and am so stuffed with carbs I could burst. I am confident my training was adequate enough for the task ahead. And I am prepared to have an awesome experience. I would like to do this in 10 hours, BUT, I will take a finish in 11:59:59 or anything under, with extreme joy. I am entering a completely unknown territory and so to try to set a time goal, much as I want to, is not wise. I haven't a clue how my body will react when I hit miles 32 and beyond. I've never run that far. I've got 19 more than I've ever gone. And that's a lot! No one goes into a 20 mile training run exhausted, but I will be on my way to complete physical depletion when I do and I simply don't know what to expect. But I am so ready for the challenge. Ready to figure out how to get from one aid station to the next when I'm reduced to a shuffle or walk. Being with Jack during Burning River gave me a look at how ultra runners cope with going forward when there really is nothing left physically. Those miles are not nearly as physical as they are mental. I witnessed that and it was during those hours in the woods in the middle of the night, that I KNEW I could do this race. If I could embrace the suffering, offer it up, focus on the task at hand and my immediate needs rather than what's coming up, I could absolutely do this. It is no different than marathoning for those who have never done that distance. It's daunting and scary, yet very achievable. You don't realize it until you actually do it. And in doing it, it unlocks the mental block of "I could never...." Oh yes, we can ALL do way more amazing things than we ever imagine we could. Most of the time, we don't try. One of the things I love the most about running is watching people begin to unlock the block. I don't care if it's a 5k or an ultra. When someone goes a distance they never dreamed possible, it's so awesome to watch. Tomorrow while I'm running, twelve fifth grade girls will be running the Girls on the Run 5k. Some of these girls are so nervous! Well nerves are my specialty and so we discussed it quite a bit during our practices. We talked about pacing and walk breaks and all sorts of things. As we coaches preached these things, they were absolutely reinforced in my head over and over. I told the girls on Wednesday that although they saw us coaches as their teachers, they absolutely taught us so much. I saw some of them pushing themselves during our practices... struggling, but continuing. Figuring out how to complete a difficult lap when they were tired. I also witnessed them helping each other, the strong encouraging the struggling. Their own little running group made of girls all from the same school, but not all from the same crowd. For that hour and a half, all the cattiness associated with girls this age was no where to be found. Inside that group, they supported each other and helped each other... and believe me, the difference in personalities was huge!
Finally (because true to form, I am not completely ready but am leaving in an hour), before I do this I need to say that I could never, I repeat NEVER have gotten even this far on my own. The support, encouragement and help along the way is what continued to push me forward. Top of the list is John, who has taken all of the stress and guess work out of this race for me. Last week I asked him where I was finishing. He already knew. He's checked the weather, mapped out the aid stations, figured out everything so that I can just show up and run. Oh yes, and he became a runner so that he can run with me... even though he knows I'm likely to get evil. He will capture the experience on video. The good, bad and the ugly. The REAL feelings a runner goes through. Not just the beginning and finish line. I could never have done this training or gotten this far without him. Never.
Sarah... who has been with me through all the mental transitions that have occurred in the past three years. The freak outs, the "I can't do this" moments, the great training runs and the heartbreaks. All of it... second to John, she has witnessed the ups and downs up close and personal and I simply love her!
Jen, Suttan, Greg and Kim... providing company and support on many runs, be it training or not. Jen, focused and driven. Running marathons weeks apart in pursuit of Boston. Making a last minute decision to race Air Force took serious guts. Running Chicago with no Garmin and just totally winging it also took serious guts. Watching Jen has kept my resolve to nail my BQ quite strong. Suttan, quiet and hilarious. That run 2 years ago that crossed our paths was no coincidence. Of that, I am certain. I only wish her damn ankle would heal so we can run together. Get it together, Spot! Greg, sooo much like me when it comes to the battle of the mind. Watching him begin to beat it was thrilling. I can only imagine what's to come for Greg, who loves running, but struggles with racing. Greg really sounds like an ultra-runner! And Kim, always running to burn calories. Showing up to run with people during their roughest moments in a marathon. Providing lots and lots of stories and humor along the way. Putting the importance of all this running nonsense in perspective. Thank you, KIM!
My brother Jack, who has taught me the power of positive thinking and who promptly signed up when he learned I was doing it. He will no doubt, dump my ass early, but I can't wait to see him beaming at the finish!
My parents and their endless selflessness when it comes to babysitting so that I can do these crazy things. I love, love, LOVE my mom and dad!
My kids! Oh how they have put up with so much!!! A big part of what motivates me is showing them that great things happen when you never give up.
And finally, I said top of the list was John. And he is top in the human sense. But first and foremost I am thanking God for the ability to do this tomorrow. I have become deeply spiritual on this journey. This was not just training for my body, but for my soul as well. The focus of my training became the cross. Focusing on Christ's suffering when I did not feel well or was struggling made my tough moments so much easier! I could go on and on about this. But I'm out of time. I just wanted to say thank you BEFORE my run to the people who really did get me here!