12 June 2012

Twenty-six Point Two

"It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through." 
-Zig Ziglar

26.2 miles is a long.  It will make you run (pun-intended) the gamut of human emotion.  

The day that I had been training for since February 11th came quickly.  Pre-race OCD and jitters had slowly set in the week prior, mainly with my constant refreshing of the San Diego forecast and googling of prior-year race recaps on running blogs and forums.  Staring at the course map and elevation chart was clearly not enough, but the thought of utilizing Google street view or watching the course tour video would be a little too obsessive.  Blame it on my college years of day-before course preview runs.  They usually resulted in great visualization prep or horrid anticipation leading to difficulty sleeping.  (On this note, I should probably remind you that I love running.  I really do.  99% of the time it results in me being a more relaxed and happy person.)

My favorite (and probably clearest) memory of pre-race day was the welcome at Inspiration Dinner.  Over 3,000 participants were representing TNT chapters from around the US and Canada, and the support staff from each chapter lined the expo hallways cheering each of us as we walked from the entrance to the dinner. 

We could not have been blessed with better running weather on race day - overcast but not too cold or windy.  The first half flew by with excitement of all the other runners (and due to the fact that I was going a bit too fast of a pace...but hey, I'm a marathon newbie.), and the vanilla and peanut butter Gu had me feeling pretty darn good.  I had a slight sinking feeling when I realized I had gone through the half marathon mark in my fourth-fastest time for 13.1 miles ever, but any downed spirits were continuously revived at the sight of more purple and green jerseys and the cheers of "Go TEAM!" or for my name.  Note to all: ALWAYS put your name on your shirt if possible, even strangers will cheer for you, and that does wonders.

Somewhere between mile 16 and 17 is where the roads really started to kick my butt and my mind and body started griping at me for my earlier pace.  The Penguin (and all others who had described their experiences with the Wall and latter parts of marathon running) was quite accurate in the description of the "Bite Me" phase - I'm pretty sure I was in a partly hazy and delusional, partly enraged state during most of the final 10K.  Coach Kevin came flying out of nowhere at my time of most need during my last mile and (bless his soul) attempted to calm me down and get me focused on my final kick to the finish line.  

I wish I had a picture of what it looked like at mile 25 when he found me at the end of Fiesta Island.
Instead, I present you with Coach Kevin and his stash of bananas at Inspiration Dinner.

I'm not sure of the best way to describe my feelings as soon as I finished.  Overwhelmed.  Amazed that my hip was still connected to my body and functioning, despite its strong will and best attempts to secede from my moving body during the last few miles.  Bitterness towards Fiesta Island which will now forever be known to a few of my teammates and me as "the Island from Hell."  Happy to see my family members.  Proud that I had accomplished a feat that I had always insisted I would never do in my lifetime.  Grateful for all of the TNT participants, coaches and mentors that cheered and ran with me along the way.

Shoes, off. Bib, off. Medal, check!

Do I have the (marathon) bug?  Not in the slightest.  Still no desire to chase down a BQ time.  But I am amazed and grateful for the experience.  It has helped me to connect my passion for running to a wonderful group of people and meaningful cause.  I am incredibly thankful to all of my family and friends that have supported my efforts through the entire journey - I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but it truly has made a difference in many lives.

One particular life that I would like to mention is that of Alessandra Nicole Sanchez, one of our SGV TNT Honored Teammates.  Ale had been one of the biggest inspirations through training - having being diagnosed with her third relapse right before the season, she wasn't able to join us in person but she was always with us in spirit and her determination and courage kept us going.  Unfortunately, she lost her three year battle against Hodgkins lymphoma last night.  Please keep her mother Mirella and the rest of their family and friends in your thoughts and prayers. 


In case you didn't get enough post-race goodies, there's free beer too.
So very glad that I had my SD fam to entertain me after all was said and done.

1 comment: