Well here we are at marathon weekend. I am currently sitting on the plane, en route to NYC and doing everything in my power to not let my nerves get the best of me.
I have not been very good (at all) about posting this year, so I guess I’ll start with how I got here. I entered the lottery for the TCS New York Marathon on a complete whim. It seemed that “everyone else” was doing it — so I figured why not. It’s important to realize that I never win anything. Ever. Not even the little crappy beer coozie type trinkets they raffle off at golf outings. I had absolutely no expectation of being selected, and to be perfectly honest, at the time I submitted my entry I was hardly even running.
I remember the morning of the lottery selection vividly. It was a cold, dark February morning and I was running around my neighborhood. I was completely flooded with emotion that morning – reflecting on all that I had been through with running over the last few years and not sure that I would ever be “normal” again. (Cliff’s Notes version: Missing Boston by 23 seconds in 2012, qualifying by 11 minutes in 2013 but having hip surgery in 2014 and not being able to run, residual hip issues in 2015, pregnancy in 2016 with a number of postpartum issues that made my return to running difficult, running another BQ time but having it fall 11 seconds short of the sub-cutoff, thyroid crash in fall of 2017 to the point where I could barely run a handful of miles minutes slower than marathon pace…) In the early morning stillness, I felt an iincredible impulse to stop and sit at a bench a few blocks from my house and pray. So I did. I stopped mid-run and pleaded to God to give me some sort of comfort.
A few hours later I saw that my credit card had been charged — I was in. How was that possible? At the time I registered I really didn’t have any true desire to run NYC – it was more of a “let’s just see what happens” prospect. But somehow, I felt that it was meant to be.
Fast forward a few months and training started. While I fumbled through rebuilding my fitness in the spring, by late June I was starting to believe that maybe I was working my way back. I started doing workouts that scared the heck out of me. I challenged myself to race more. I was starting to see numbers on my Garmin that were indicative of maybe, possibly, being even better than I was during my “glory days.” I started to realize that notwithstanding everything that had happened over the last 5 years, I was back.
While my training cycle was incredibly strong, there were some challenges. With an incredibly humid summer, I realized that under certain conditions my body looses way too much sweat than I can possibly replenish (blood work confirmed that this resulted in fairly significant dehydration and lactic acid buildup that my body has difficulty clearing). This meant that on those days, I suffer. A lot. And running can start to become dangerous. The good news, however, is that with a November race the chances of having troubling conditions are much lower and by my last few training runs the weather was nothing short of optimal.
The thing that I have realized most about myself this year is that I give too much power to fear. I let fear consume me. Fear of what? There are the typical fears (fear of failure – generally) but there is so much more packed in. Fear of the “other shoe dropping” (because it always seems to and it seems that this year has been going too well). Fear of not realizing my potential (this has been incredibly frustrating when your race numbers don’t reflect what you are capable of). Fear of being a “fraud” (that if I run poorly, it will mean I’m not good enough to run with certain others). Fear of pain (this is self evident). Fear of success (what if I actually am capable of doing what I think I can). Fear of my own mind and giving in when the going gets tough. So I am laying them all out here – and I am going to be done with them.
I am going to control what I can. I am going to give the rest to God.
I am going to remember that no matter what I do on race day, it doesn’t undo everything that got me here. It doesn’t undo the numbers I have proven I can run. I am going to remember how far I have come and the moments this training cycle that have brought me to (happy) tears because I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would even come close to running the way that I have been able to. I am going to remember the friendships that I have foraged this year. I am going to remember that “feelings” aren’t reality. I am going to remember that I logged almost 1900 miles this year (so far) and that I couldn’t be more ready.