Friday, March 8, 2013

Phoenix Marathon 2013

Phoenix Arizona Marathon 2013

I ran the Phoenix marathon last Saturday, and it already seems like dream.  During the past 4-5 months, I have been training with a good friend and gradually increasing our mileage each week.  My goal for this race was to come in sometime between my two other times; my first marathon was 4:49:57, and my second race in St. George was 4:24:39.  Based on our distance runs this past few months,  I figured I'd come in closer to the higher time, but not beyond it.

The race started at 6:30 AM, just as the sun was coming up over the mountains.  I felt strong, the weather was beautiful and cool, and the course was stimulating.  Gentle down hills for most of the first half other than a two-mile incline between miles 4 and 6. 

Mile 7: I run into a childhood friend and next door neighbor, who is running this race with her husband.  We enjoy catching up.  It's been almost 10  years since I last visited with her.  We run together for over a mile and visit.

My running buddy, Nicole, and I got to half way and things were good, although it was starting to get pretty warm.  We walked through each water station and I drank a little.  There's a fine balance between staying hydrated and getting water logged.  To avoid feeling water logged and bloated, I didn't drink too much.  Looking back, I wish I had drank a LOT more (especially Gatorade).  Those "small" sips ended up hurting me later in the race.

Somewhere shortly after 14 miles, I lost Nicole.  I kept taking walk breaks and stretching, hoping she'd catch up.  But she never did.  Getting tired, but still pushing along and keeping good pace.  I come up to a small group of red-shirted people.  It's my husband and family, wearing the LeSueur Team t-shirts.  My pace picks up, I think on how absolutely wonderful John is.  I smile and run up to Kate to give her a kiss.  Not realizing it, I run her down. . . my legs won't stop.  Weird feeling.  Sorry Kate, didn't mean to run you over. 

Mile 18: starting to get very tired and warn down.  Chafing in my left armpit.  Bloody blisters on two toes.  But I have 8 more miles to go.  Usually, a 8 mile run isn't too hard.  At this point in the race, it seemed like an eternity.  The course takes me into downtown Mesa. We're running along blacktop, next to lots of desert landscapes.  It's hot, much hotter than I EVER trained in.  In fact, I hardly ever trained with the sun up because most of my runs started in the wee hours of the morning before light to avoid being gone when my kids were up.  Still hoping Nicole will come around and help me through the last 8 miles.  We trained together, we should finish together.  She gives me strength to keep going. I need that strength now.

Mile 22:  4 more miles to go, are you kidding me?  One foot in front of the other, just keep moving.  Much more walking than I had planned on doing, much more than I did on my other two races.  It's REALLY hot, and running along black dumpsters on Center Street in ghetto Mesa doesn't help my mood. 

Mile 24.5:  I come around the old hospital, then down 8th street.  Far ahead of me I see a group if people, all wearing red shirts.  It's my family, along with James and Shawnne, cheering me on.  Keep going, smile, act like it's not that hard, don't let your kids know how hard this is, one foot in front of the other.  As I come up to them, their cheers and encouragement boost my whole being.  More energy, but barely. Keep going, almost there.

John lets the oldest 5 kids run the rest of the race with him.  We had talked about this prior to the race, and I told him to only let the two oldest boys run, because I knew I wouldn't have to worry about their safety or speed.  I'm too tired to do anything about it at this point and figured my speed now is at a turtles pace, a lot of walking.  So Andersen and EmmaClaire will probably beat me to the finish line anyway.

All 5 of my kids ran/walk along side of me on the sidewalk, encouraging me to the end.  It was a good thing, because I started having moments of  blacking out and feeling so weak that I didn't think I could move any further.  I'd lean on Taylor or Mason for support, and they'd all say "mom, come on Mom, you can finish this.  Keep going mom. . . ".  Blurred vision.  One leg in front of the other, don't stop. 
As the finish line came into sight, I started running to get there.  My kids backed out of the shoot, and I crossed on my own, then started drinking like water was going out of style.  I looked at the big time clock.  4:52:39 (chip time was 4:51:05).  Two thought went through my head at the same time. 

Thought #1-"why did I EVER do this?  This is the most painful hard thing I've ever done, I have never felt so disgusting and sick as I do now, this is worse than childbirth, I'll never do this again. . . I should have John force me to sign a contract to myself saying that I'll never sign up for a marathon again. . .this is absolute craziness. . . why would I choose to put myself in this situation?" 

Thought #2- I can't believe my time.  This is embarrassing, I know I could have done better, this is my worst time yet, I can't end on this note, I need to redeem myself. . . as soon as I get home I'm going to sign up for another race and train harder, do better, come in stronger, I've got to do it again and get a better time. . . "

I had to sit down, my vision got really blurry and I was seeing black spots, feeling so sick to my stomach. Then the vomiting started.  When it stopped, I drank some more, then threw it all up again.  This continued for a while. . . my body was dehydrated.

By late Saturday afternoon, I was feeling much better and was able to keep fluid down and start eating.  By Sunday, I was super sore and very thirsty all day long.  By Monday, my legs felt like I had just done a hard workout. My blisters on two toes popped and caused some pain.  Now it's Friday and I'm feeling great and ready for another long run.  Looking back, the race seems like a dream. Did I really run that far?  Was it really that hard? 

I have found myself thinking  back on each mile, wishing I had done things differently and getting down on myself for not finishing stronger, taking too many walk breaks, wasting time waiting for Nicole, not drinking enough, not pushing myself harder. Always second-guessing myself and my effort.

But it is what it is.  I ran a marathon.  It was my hardest marathon yet (or maybe we just forget, kind of like childbirth). 

My sister in law mentioned that she couldn't understand how running a marathon could be "fun".  My response to her was this:

I'm not sure I'd ever use the word, "fun" either to describe training for and running a marathon. But thrilling, exhilarating, doing something harder than anything I've ever done before (besides maybe childbirth), self fulfilling and self accomplishment, setting a far fetched goal then reaching it out of sheer diligence and hard work, reaching beyond my own capacity, feeling "mentally" strong. . . those words describe my experience. It becomes a mental game.  Mind over body.  Mental strength over physical desires.  Self control.  Kind of like how you'd describe childbirth. Definitely not "fun". But totally and incredibly awesome and exciting, harder than anything else, and very rewarding. You get the picture, . . . or maybe you don't.

And after all that, there's no pictures to show for it.  John couldn't figure out how to open the lens.  But hey, I got a great t-shirt! And my kids think I'm a winner because of my medal.  They really know that I can do hard things.