24 August 2015

It wasn't a fluke

Like everyone, i sometimes struggle with self worth. One of the biggest way that my shame gremlins attack me is by whispering this nasty little message:

You aren't a REAL runner.

They follow it up by saying:
*Real runners don't get tired.
*Real runners never struggle with IT band issues.
*Real runners ALWAYS want to run.
*Real runners go faster than you.
*Real runners don't get flushed when they run.
*Real runners get faster every time they run.
*Real runners never have to walk.
*Real runners have 6pack abs.

After the initial euphoria of my marathon wore off, and as i had to cut way back on my weekly mileage due to tendinitis, the gremlins went to town. Even as i kept running and racing and ignoring them, they whispered that my marathon was a fluke and there was NO WAY i could do it again. Besides, i had to walk some of it, so that meant i didn't even really do it, right? (So they said).

They told me i was a fake runner. A phony. i was a GOOD pretender, but a pretender, nevertheless.

Going into this race, i was nervous because i was afraid that i was going to fail. On Friday, Mr B and i went to pick up our race packets. i was running the full marathon, he was running his first half. We drove the last 9 miles of the course together. The second half of the full marathon followed the same course of the half marathon, so we would be running along the same path--although the half would start 2 hours after the full, so i estimated i would be around mile 11 or 12 when they started at my mile 13. i wouldn't cross Mr B's path.

As we drove along we saw the mile markers--first the mile markers for the full (20, 21, 22) and .1 miles after each of these were the mile markers for the half (7, 8, 9). i asked Mr B if he would pray for me every time he passed one of my mileage signs.

Later that evening, Mr B gave me a priesthood blessing and as we said goodnight, he kissed my hand and said, "Every mile."

When i got to race start, i was surprisingly calm. i chatted with the other runners waiting to go. i got my music and running apps all prepped. i had the overwhelming feeling of "Just do it, Jennifer. You got this."

And off we went.

The first 10 miles were on gravel forest service roads winding through the forest. We watched the sunrise (red and hazy because of the forest fires) and i chatted it up with several marathoners running my pace.

Exiting from the gravel roads and onto the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway, my mom was there waiting to cheer me on. She leapfrogged me, stopping to cheer about every .75 miles from mile 10-13. From there i passed the start line of the half marathon and veered onto a single track trail for the next 4 miles. 

As i hit the trail, i analyzed how i was doing physically. My legs felt great, my stomach was a tad queasy but not too bad, my feet were fine and i still had a lot of energy. i was eating at least a couple of bites at every aid station and drinking lots of gatorade. The trail was gorgeous, the weather was cooperating and i felt good!

Around mile 15, i started passing the half marathoners who were walking. At mile 17, the trail dumped out at the Warm River Campground, i was back on pavement, and i began the hill climb. Their website describes it as a "significant climb" that lasts for three miles. 

From the very base of the hill i started passing way more half marathoners. Then i was passing some marathoners too. i kept waiting for my body to tell me that i needed to walk; i expected to have to walk some of the hill. But i kept running. And i felt amazing. i realized that this hill was nothing compared to the mountain passes i had run in my relays; i was trained and prepared.

Right as i hit mile 20 and at the peak of the hill, my mom was there waiting to cheer me on. i was on the highest of runner's highs! i shouted while grinning from ear to ear, "i'm at the top of the hill! i'm at mile 20! i haven't had to walk at all yet! i feel great!" 

The next three miles was gorgeous rolling farmland. i loved the rollers with all of the ups and downs. It felt like an accomplishment at the peak of every little hill. i was still passing people. i talked a tiny bit with most people that i had passed. 

Mile 23 i realized that my legs were very tired. My body started begging for me to walk. But there was NO WAY i was going to start walking then. Plus, i never knew when my mom was going to be there and i didn't want her to cheer on a walker.

At mile 24.5, Mr B joined in with my mom to cheer me into the end (he had already finished his race). He ran about a block with me, just enough to say "You are doing amazing and you are almost there!"

i pushed into the finishing line with my last ounce of energy, grinning when i heard my girlfriend (who also ran the half) shout "Go Jennifer!!"

It wasn't a fluke. i RAN a full marathon.And as Mr B pointed out, if after a full marathon i can grin and say, "That was SO FUN! i loved that course!" then i am a real runner. 

Side note: Mr B did amazing too. He finished in 1:45:09 (that's 15 mins faster than my PR!) averaging just over an 8 minute mile. He placed 2nd in his age category and 16th overall.

i finished in 4:35:38! And i was surprised that i also placed! i was second in my age category as well and awarded with a nice little plaque. 

Those gremlins can kiss my asphalt.

i am a marathoner.
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