|Ready for some life changing miles.|
Looking back, have you ever felt that some days could have and should have been enjoyed more??
The week before the Clearwater Marathon I was "recovering" from the Disney Marathon. Let me just interject that active recovery is best for me, but not for everyone. However, the week before the Disney Marathon I tapered according to other's suggestions and I was bored out of my wits. I have found that recovery is a mindset in addition to physical rest. The week before Disney I ran low and slow mileage three days and did yoga four days. Mind you my normal week is filled with running, yoga, P90X, and Insanity (more on that in another blog).
The Monday after Disney I settled for yoga, stretching, and a massage. On Tuesday morning I was ready to get back out for a date with my running shoes and opened my stride a bit to stretch out the hammies. I felt good and decided more yoga would help with tired muscles. Again, active recovery. I inserted a session of yoga, P90X Shoulders & Arms, and Ab Ripper into my Wednesday study schedule. An early appointment kept me from running on Thursday, so I opted for Insanity's Pure Cardio and more yoga. You can never do enough yoga. Friday I was able to get out for some quick miles to power up the legs. On Saturday morning I decided to do Insanity's Cardio Recovery, which helped me tighten and prepare my legs for some ground pounding miles. I lightly stretched throughout the day, inserted whenever possible in my busy-ness with family and schoolwork.
In preparation for the "race" I was reminded to react with calm and use positive logic to think through my situation. Not many people can understand why someone would run even 3 miles for the shear pleasure of it let alone 26 point freakin 2 miles. I was ready for a pleasurable experience with thousands of my closest friends and even my family - my brother ran the half. For those of you who do not have experience with Chris Lauber's races, he loves the running community and shows it through his insertion of bridges into his races. What's one, two, three, or six inclines over 26.2 miles? Eh, no problem. LOVE IT!!
I began the race with a few friends and spent the first 1/5 of my journey chatting with my friend Heather who was running the half and would make her turn back over the Sand Key and Clearwater Memorial bridges. We both have a goal of running 13 half marathons in 2013 and she is ahead of me already. We agreed to stay together until the Suncoast Strider's water stop at about mile 5.5 after conquering the two bridges. We talked about stride rate, breathing techniques, and our running goals for this year. I was held accountable to my decision to begin my journey slow, which does not always happen especially when my legs are warmed up and ready to GO! I held back and enjoyed the atmosphere, which is difficult for me when running a race.
|My own personal cheering section!|
One of my favorite highlights of the race was the Suncoast Strider's water station going into and out of Sand Key Park. This amazingly crazy group of friends and family (my sister, hubby and daughter - the youngest but not the smallest) spent the morning setting up and serving water to runners, but most of all cheering on every runner with the same enthusiasm as they would for their favorite professional sports team during the championship game. With so much yelling and waving of pom poms I had to stop and enjoy this naturally occuring party zone, which ended up being about 5-7 minutes even though I had another 20 miles to cover. Tearing myself away I set off for my adventure with hydration bottle in hand. Didn't want a repeat of the Disney medic tent adventure.
Over the next 20 miles of asphalt (love running in the road, never could do it as a kid) I met countless people running for various reasons, some struggling, some plowing through, and some happily talkative. I met a woman who had physical issues she was determined to overcome, a young Russian Scientology volunteer from Palestine named Yuri, and some Marathon Maniacs just putting one foot in front of the other. I truly believe, even more so now, that if we slow down enough to enjoy the environment and people with which we are blessed we can learn countless lessons and witness the manifestation of purely organic happiness.
We all have struggles, limitations, or obstacles that we think will hold us back. For me, it is all in my head - that menacing little voice that tells me that I should stop and walk, that my knees or ankles are hurting, or I am not strong enough to do this. Have you heard this voice? I say punch that voice in the throat and claim that it has no control over what we want to accomplish. I had a few fights with this voice during my journey and decided to drown it out by encouraging others who seemed to be fighting with that same voice. I think women's struggles are more visible and easily shared with others than men. I was reminded by encouraging others that even though I struggle in a race when someone praises me for my "accomplishment" I should accept it and be proud of what I just did - fast or slow. These terms are relative and not to be compared to other's speed, distance, or opinion.
|My biggest fan coasting across the finish line with me.|
After spending enough time walking I began running and found that I was close to the finish line. Tears began to well up in my eyes and emotions started to flare. Let me say it is very difficult to run and cry at the same time. I look at this photo of my daughter and I crossing the finish line and knowing the emotions I was feeling and the excitement and love she unconditionally poured out into my depleted cup I sped up and came to the end of my 26.2 journey - for that day. Cheers from my husband, son, daughter, and strangers were met with joyous tears of "that was hard", "I had fun", and "my family is happy for me" among other emotions. My husband covered me with a towel and a family hug ensued. Little things show us how proud others are of our accomplishments, take it when it comes and enjoy it. Next step is to have...
|A few brews from the Veterans with my Marathon Maniacs!|
....a drink with my husband then some awesome ladies. Celebrating life should be done at every moment, even if you just want to lay down and sleep, physically and metaphorically. I will add life to my days so that when I look back on my years I won't feel that I could have / should have done this or that, but more to just enjoy TODAY! Speaking of enjoying today, my friend Cindy (below) accomplished her very first marathon at age 59 with her husband/coach by her side throughout her journey.
|Cindy & Clark partying across the finish line of JOY!|
NO EXCUSES!! They came around the corner running and he crossed the finish dancing and she came across smiling as we cheered on her accomplishment. It is a magnificent feeling to have friends and family at the finish line and we wanted to share in her joy as she accomplished something she felt was beyond her reach just a year earlier. Nothing is beyond our reach if we continue to keep moving forward toward our goals (see Smart Goal blog post).
|My first 26.2 Starfish....What a beauty!|
The goal for the day accomplished, medal and bananas acquired, and time with family and friends enjoyed. I look back and realize I could not have enjoyed this day more. No regrets for taking time to enjoy people, passion, and life!!
Next race - Best Damn Half.