Redemption Race

Flashback: November 2016:

 

Sixteen weeks of marathon training was coming to a close on a mild autumn Thursday afternoon. The training group had one more meeting at Fleet Feet to run before our trip to the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. The mundane task of walking to the bus stop to collect my son resulted in an injury that would sideline for what was supposed to be my first marathon. I went to Indianapolis anyway and cheered on my friends. I saw from the sidelines the stocking hats finishers were getting and I said I wanted one to myself and to the Fleet Feet Bloomington owner, Julie, and pretty much anyone else who would listen. Julie told me I’d have it one day when I earned it and it would be that much more special. 

November 3, 2018: Race Day

The crowd was HUGE. My usual panic set in getting to the race start before the race actually started. After the first wave started, my friends and I discovered we were in the wrong wave and had to go underneath a divider to get into the correct one. I danced around to the music and said, “If you’re not having fun at the start, you’re not going to have fun later.” I watched my friends go forward as we separated in the group. Their goal time was over 20 minutes faster than mine and I didn’t want to sabotage my race.

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Ready to START!

I was finally in Indy to race. I was doing the half marathon instead of the full, but I was finally there. It seemed like an eternity from the time the race started to the time I finally crossed the starting line. It was about 12 minutes, in reality. I had my music ready and was excited at the prospect of finishing this race.

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Yes, 10 hours of variety. It keeps it fresh.

It was crowded, but I settled in and told myself that the first mile needed to get me warmed up and would have to be 11 minutes or slower. I warmed up and tossed my outer layer during the first mile. I was feeling so good by mile 3, I told myself that I needed to hold back just a little longer despite feeling good and start running how I felt after the first 6 miles were over.

The crowd was amazing! There were the usual “press here for power up” signs and the “worst parade ever” signs. BUT…there were people in costumes all over the place. Young Skywalker and a Storm Trooper were there. A skeleton placed in a chair held up a sign that said “Worst Caravan Ever.” A guy in a shark suit ran beside me and asked if I was his best friend’s friend until I laughed and gave him a thumbs up. A man in a Batman costume ran the race. A woman in a nun getup (a habit) ran the race. She probably beat me even in her nun shoes. There were people giving out beer. There were others giving out ghost peppers and milk. Despite not taking any, I thanked everyone that had an offering on the sidelines. The atmosphere was like a party and it helped push me through. Someone even yelled “Go Jenn Go,” as I’d had printed on my race bib.

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I took in scenery and talked to myself about how I finally got to see the streets and the sights I’d missed before. I reminded myself to take it all in and I prayed a few times for the strength to finish. I felt so good, in fact, I nearly forgot to take a gel until I was into my 5th mile. I was walking through every water stop and taking 1-2 drinks of water at each one and it was working out well for me energizing. I wasn’t taking many drinks from my hydration belt, which contained Tailwind. I’ve had a lot of luck using Tailwind in my summer runs and figured it would be a good thing to bring along to Indy. It would have been if I’d used more than 1/4 of the bottle by mile 10.

I felt amazing! Then, it hit me. I felt a little tired. My head was soaked with sweat. I was pushing as hard as I could and I couldn’t surpass a 12 minute pace. My heart rate was in the 170 range. I had to walk before I hit a water stop and I was not happy about it. I took off the Buff that was on my head and shoved it down the right side of my pant leg. I removed my gloves and shoved them down the left pant leg. I walked and drank from my water bottle. I started estimating a finish time and set a goal. Initially, I’d wanted to get a personal best at less than 2:19. Today, I would finish in less than 2 hours and 30 minutes. I picked back up and pushed myself as hard as I could.  The elite runners of the full marathon started to pass me. I clapped for them and yelled how impressive their performance was. It gave me a little recharge, but probably more because I’m competitive and my ego was achy.

Upon seeing the sign that said “Mile 25,”  I turned off my headphones and I prayed. I thanked God for helping me. I wasn’t doing a marathon that day, but I was nearing the finish line. I repeated: “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). Then, I just silenced my thoughts and paid attention to everything there was to see. The people. The signs. The things the people said that were so beautiful and encouraging. This was a fantastic show of people being positive without even knowing all of the people they cheered for. I saw the finish and breifly looked down at my watch. A lady shouted “ON YOUR LEFT” while passing me in the 100 yards to the end. I noticed my watch reading 2:29 and seconds ticking away and I went as fast as I could to cross and beat my goal time by 11 seconds officially. Not my personal best, but still did what I wanted to. I looked at the person next to me [total stranger] and said “We did it,” with a smile as she looked back and mustered a little grin.

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I found my way past the finish and I got my medal and put it on while I tightly wrapped the Mylar blanket around my sweat soaked clothes. I mindlessly grabbed a banana (I’m a little allergic). I saw the hats. The stocking caps were being handed out and I reached out and grabbed it and thanked the people at the table while I carefully ensured it was secure in my possession.

No matter how many times someone suggested I put the hat on when I said I was cold, I declined. My hair was sweaty and this hat was special. It could only be placed on my hair after it was clean and dry. The hat was that thing I’d wanted and I’d finally earned.

My Takeaways

  • Indy was an amazing experience. I would actually spend more time there if given the opportunity. There are so many things to see and to do there, one night isn’t really enough.
  • I know better than to only take 1 gel and drink so little of my nutrition. This is likely the cause of using more effort with less speed nearing the end of the race. This still wouldn’t have led to a personal best, but probably a better time than I had gotten.
  • I chafed my under boob. I didn’t spray Tri Slide lower than the bra’s band, which I also know better. Bras start to creep down a little during long runs.
  • It was a good choice to not toss my cheap running gloves because I really needed to take them out more than once to warm my hands.
  • Mesh panels in running pants and shirts are a great idea for temps in the high 30’s and 40’s. At least for me, they were.
  • The Indy medals are set up for a 4 year series to spell the word “INDY,” and now I have the letter “I” medal in my possession…. uh oh.

Look at this race swag:

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10 weeks into training

I’ve completed week 10 of training. I’m in the last weeks of training before the Whiskeydaddle half marathon. I considered bowing out or challenging myself at a shorter distance. At least I’ve been stubborn enough to stick with it even after I’ve experienced some adversity.

I went to the podiatrist about the chronic pain in my foot diagnosed as sesamoiditis. I’ve slept with a splint on my foot in a flexed position. The Dr. made modifications to my shoe inserts to take the pressure off of the area of my forefoot that was painful. I had less pain, but not total relief. Tuesday, I had a cortisone shot and was referred to have physical therapy over the next couple of weeks leading up to the race. I was impressed that he was able to get a needle from the top of my foot into the painful region on the bottom and precisely hit where the pain was centered. I was less impressed that the injection recreated the pain I had while running. Over the next couple of hours, my toes became numb. Doc told me not to run on it again until at least Wednesday.

My first run of week 10 was on Thursday. It was hot and humid outside and I set out to complete 5 or 6 miles since I’d missed 5 on Tuesday was due for 6 on Thursday. I completed 4 miles running and walked under a mile home. I felt no pain in my foot on the run. I was bummed that the weather was so gross when I finally felt no pain in my feet, but the heat was oppressive and I wasn’t going to push too hard.

Friday, was an event with Fleet Feet for “Run at Work Day.” [I don’t make these things up.] I enjoyed a 2 mile solo run followed by lunch and conversation with women who also run. Friday night was spent getting to know my neighbors while our kids ran around and played past their bed times.

Saturday morning, I’d agreed to time a race for my local running club. It was cool enough to need a jacket to stand outside. I missed my group run, but I wasn’t really ready to run 12 miles Saturday. I needed to rest and to reset. Also, I got to hold a time machine. See?

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Upper right. It says “Time Machine”

Since my usual morning long runs are Saturday, my husband gets Sunday mornings. He checked with me since I’d skipped my run, but I told him that I wasn’t enjoying running and I would make up my long run when and if I felt like it. My kids let me sleep in until almost 9am. I was feeling rested and refreshed. After his run and after a lot of back and forth with my best friend, Liz, I got dressed and set out for “whatever I could do just so I could tell her how gorgeous the weather was.” I knew it was supposed to be 12 miles for training. It is the last long run on the calendar before taper and race weekends. I drove to a local park and secretly hoped I’d make it to 13 miles with the beautiful weather. It was afternoon already. It was warm and running still felt hot. I enjoyed the first half of my run. I even made myself stop to take drinks even when I felt I was going at a good pace. Upon completing mile 10, I stopped at a fountain and messaged my Liz. She’d hurt her cornea and couldn’t run outside. She gave me crap for not wanting to run when she was missing her last long run before her half, so I muddled through the last two miles with a lot of walking and whining. The last two miles were speed walking, nearly crying, jogging, and feeling the sensation of pain again in my forefoot (which made me get a little teary eyed thinking about how the pain wasn’t actually gone). Finishing felt like I could see more clearly and had more energy walking to my car. I got my mat, walked to the trees, and did my post run exercise and stretch routine in the shade and took a selfie.

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I was actually pretty content after that long run.

I went into church with a wet head of hair barely dried from my shower, but I didn’t stink and I looked presentable. Our pastor talked about repentance.  At the end of the service, there was an offer for anyone who wanted to be baptized. They had spare clothes and towels on hand. I squeezed my husband on his hand and whispered, “I’m going to do it. I really want to.” He then asked if I was serious and walked with me to the changing area out of view of the congregation. They asked him if he was getting baptized. Without missing a beat, he said “Yes.” We changed into athletic shorts and t-shirts and were baptized before the congregation by a church elder who had recently prayed with us over our teen daughter and her recovery. I’m so happy that we did it on the same day and witnessed for one another. I’ve always been a Christian, but I haven’t always been good at staying in my faith. This year, we started going to a local church at the request of our oldest child after she’d completed rehab. While she hasn’t continued her attendance, we have committed to attending and teaching our younger two about faith and service. I’ve been examining myself and my faith and I really hope that I stick with it. I still struggle with depression at times. I’ve devoted more time to reading and praying and I have less time for being plugged in. That has helped.

Is your race coming up? Are you ready? I’ve noticed that each training session has had different challenges. This time, it has been harder to overcome the “can’t” in my head.

Enjoy your journey and share with me your thoughts!

 

Week 9 was alright

I have nothing clever to title my post this week. I barely have the words in my head to form anything worth reading this week. I’m not going to make an “at least I’m not,” statement because that would totally damn me for that thing to happen because that’s my luck lately. I had fun that didn’t involve running. I totally mommed like a pro (I know “mommed” isn’t a word, spell check). I accomplished running things I didn’t think I was going to. Overall…

Week 9 was alright. Tuesday was a hill workout. I was on time for the warm up, did my hill repeats, and ran the additional mileage to equal 5 miles total. I didn’t want to finish after the hill repeats, but it wasn’t physical pain, so I moved along. I was pleased with myself for actually pushing through the barrier and going for it. I was dealing with finding long term solution for my oldest child after her voluntary treatment stay.

Wednesday was actually pretty awesome because I went on a first grade field trip to the pumpkin patch with my youngest child. She learned, played, and picked out her very own pumpkin to take home. We played in a silo full of corn. Yes, WE. I climbed in and sunk down to my thighs in dry corn. No, I haven’t seen the movie “A Quiet Place,” yet. I am aware there is corn.

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Pumpkin Picking

I don’t even remember Thursday clearly. There were 6 miles on the plan. I’d announced to a friend that I was going to do 3 and call it a day, but I went out and ran 6 miles. It wasn’t pleasant, but I recalled that I didn’t want to do 5 miles on Tuesday and was still able to. I was fortunate enough to bump into a runner friend at one of the parks where I’d stopped for water. We chatted for a few minutes; Me declining her offers of NUUN electrolytes and an ice pop. I picked up the energy needed to take the 1.5 miles back home for 6 miles. Another run that was better after it was over.

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Friday, I had a conversation with my teen that did not go well. She was not wanting to be in treatment due to other clients there. It was unpleasant and generally stressful to discuss. We hadn’t settled on a place for ongoing help and I was working on budget forms to determine the cost of one option. My husband and I agreed he would drive the couple of hours to pick her up on Saturday morning after my long run of 11 miles. I’d need to be finished by 10 am for him to leave on time, which shouldn’t have been a problem. It totally was Setback Saturday, I tell ya.

Saturday at 5 am, I began to consider just getting my run over with since I was already awake. I still considered a solo run when I arrived for the group before meeting time. Running felt crappy inside of the 2nd mile, but I was with the group that keeps me accountable. I stopped for a bathroom break at mile 6 and my wheels fell off. I found company in another miserable runner who needed to be finished at the same time. We ran, walked, and talked our way to finish 9.5 miles of our run. I said I’d make it up later, but I didn’t. I was frustrated with that.

Sunday, we went to church in the morning instead of our usual 5pm service. Our pastor talked about Joshua 24:15-16 and contemporary idols we enslave ourselves to. I actually thought of the Nine Inch Nails song where he refers to “God Money,” as the pastor spoke. This didn’t take away from the message, though. After, I was a volunteer at a benefit concert for a local animal rescue called My Loveable Angels. (I know about the spelling, guys). It was nice to be busy and have the distraction. Then, my phone started buzzing with messages from my husband. I decided to forgo fast food on the way so I could get home. I realized a contemporary idol of mine was food. Now that I’m aware of it, I have to make the right choice to lower food on my list of where I turn when I’m sad, lonely, happy, or confused. I’ve known for a long time it was a problem, but I hadn’t seen it as turning to something instead of prayer.

We have had so much support from family and friends through all of this stress. We have a more positive outlook for how things will be moving forward despite not being sure how we’re moving forward at times. I appreciate it, though and I want everyone who has reached out to know that I am so grateful and blessed to have this much support. Thank you!

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Seriously….this corn. Every time I take the kids here, I’m in awe.