Misadventures with wine, weights, and running shoes.

Goofy Part II

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday morning arrived quickly. We did our best to fuel and prepare for our race.  I took an immodium to prevent a reoccurrence of yesterdays “issues.”  Hope took Tylenol in the morning. She was sore from yesterday and though she remained positive, I knew she had concerns. I added some Tylenol to my bag of enduralytes just in case Hope would need some on the course. My goal was to stay at her pace, and run happy no matter how long it would take us. 

Parking was much easier than the day before.  Weather was a perfect 55 degrees. We unsuccessfully looked for some of my friends then headed to our corral.  We stayed towards the back of the corral knowing it wasn't a racing day, and for a rare moment in Hope’s mind, it was about just completion.  With Tylenol already on board, we hoped it would take the edge off. 

When it was our time, we set off slow, but steady.  We had some of the same scenery, however when you have twice as much distance yesterday’s halfway becomes just another mile. This year, we stopped for a couple fun pictures where there weren't lines, but were good for a laugh or memory. 

Hope had waves of pain and calm throughout the race.  Times she could push the pain back and times that it broke through for only a moment.  Halfway through she took more Tylenol and made the decision that she would need to walk the water stops in order for her to finish the race.  For most races and runs, I would hyper focus on pace and time, yet this year was about time spent with my best friend. My watch was running, but I only looked at the half way mark to see where we were.

We hit the half way point at 2:09 not a bad clip on a painful broken leg.  I felt good, but worried about how much pain she would tolerate to finish the race.  I had no doubt in my mind she could finish.

Hope is not your normal endurance athlete.  She has done 30 hour adventure races and scaled Mt Rainier before her 20th birthday.  She’d been to Iraq and back, giving another meaning to relentless. This was about proving to herself, as well as others, that she could do this. I wasn't one to stand in her way.

Running at a slower pace than usual, I found it difficult at times to maintain without wanting to speed up.  My ADD nature makes me a very erratic pacer.  Anything from a song, a cheer, or a funny sign made me happy and I’d speed up.  Hope gently reminded me to slow back down quite a few times by saying, “I would like to finish this race.” If I ever want to be a successful coach, I will have to work on that A LOT.

A marathon regardless of pace is a painful event. Emotions and thoughts become raw and many times the catharsis that happens is hard to explain to someone who has not run one (or longer). Your legs ache, you get tired, and the demons play games in your head. I did my best to push that away and focus on my friend and what was around me. It worked. My demons sit inside miles 17-20. For Hope, mile 18, where her IT gave out several years ago.  These miles are especially tough at Disney because they are at wide world of sports and one of the least “entertaining” areas of the course.  We started looking for Hope’s family around mile 18. and found them around 19 or so. Seeing them made the world of difference. We paused briefly for pictures. Having a familiar face at just the right time is a HUGE mental boost during a challenging event.

Mile 20 came and we found a steady rhythm. The hills and more challenging areas are towards the end of the course when you are most fatigued and the cheers really matter.  Mile by mile the pain was increasing as the Tylenol wore off.  Finishing was now the focus.  I could not take the pain away, but just offer silent support to make it through the last big section. 

The boardwalk section before Epcot is both beautiful and challenging. It is quiet, serene and less “pomp and circumstance” winding you along a curving path by water and then along a boardwalk.

When we turned into Epcot, quiet changed to a scene out of an epic running movie.  Amazing inspirational music blared throughout the park as we traversed the last 1.2 miles to the finish with park patrons and staff cheering you on.  You could feel the energy pick up and the crowds become more alive as you got closer to the end.  Rounding mile 26, you are greeted by the Disney Gospel Choir followed by the right turn into the finishing chute. It is overwhelming as you are met with an absolute uproar of cheers. We caught a glimpse of Hope’s family cheering and we stepped it out just slightly to cross the finish line with arms raised in triumph; another Disney marathon completed. 

I walked away happy. I was not spent or exhausted, but content that I ran the race I intended.  The lesson learned this year was that I had found my love for running again. It was just what I needed to get me back to where I wanted to be.  I found my “why” again; for the challenge, for the energy, for me.  2015 is off to a great start. 

Now time to get back to work.
Love, Cindy!
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