A Marathon Reminder for a Seasoned Runner

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Prologue

At this writing, 24 hours has passed since I joined thousands of people along West Palm Beach’s Intracoastal waterway to start the Fit Team Marathon of the Palm Beaches’ half and full marathon race yesterday on Sunday, December 3, 2017.

My body is still carrying on a one-sided conversation with my brain (perhaps a rant) about the abuse it has endured and how it’s still threatening a complete physical shutdown to show it means business. I’m proud of everyone that got up so early and completed their respective races, whether goals were reached or not.

Past

It has literally been well over a decade since I ran this specific race. It was the Inaugural edition in 2004 for West Palm Beach hosting its own marathon series race and it was also my first marathon ever—somehow I made the qualification for the 2005 Boston marathon which I immediately signed up for and then finished off my year of marathoning with the 30th anniversary Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) in Washington, DC where my husband I are were working at the time.

“DINKs” they called us, “double income, no kids” and so completing 3 marathons in a year’s time in your twenties is not such a far-fetched idea. Upon completing that third and awe-inspiring MCM, I hung up my running shoes for a year or more to rest both body and mind. By the time I started running again along the Capitol’s mall area, it became apparent that we were about to become parents in a matter of months.

Present

After 4 pregnancies in my life, blessed with three miraculous births of our children in their own respective arrivals—a seasoned runner as myself felt it was time to run and give back a little in the process. The result became a plan to run three races in three months time.

This fall I had decided to sign up again with the local Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to raise money while I prepared with our Palm Beach Chapter team to run in the Marine Corps 10K in October.   Since I was able to run some long runs with our team members who were taking on the Marine Corps Marathon, I heard we had the Marathon of the Palm Beaches again in town after a 2-year absence and signed up for the December race. At the same time, old teammates of mine had rallied and we’d collectively decided to enter the Ragnar Relay South Beach race in November as a mini-reunion and reminder of how we’ve aged since our Division I collegiate career days.

The Marathon: A Possible Spiritual Exercise Regardless of Religion

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I have Greek blood in me and although I just completed my fourth marathon, I’m still in disbelief because although training helps to complete this distance—I’ve found that each and every time I run it I’m truly humbled to the core of my being. There are times I’ve been super prepared in my mileage tallies and pacing and other times like yesterday when I had a moderate amount of training but have also been balancing life’s responsibilities.

It’s never been a surprise to me that Greek legend holds the story of the man who ran to shout victory and promptly died upon doing so.   Maybe it’s a mathematical thing as the 26.2 mile distance may be very easy for some and for others literally the most difficult physical feat they’ve ever accomplished (save giving birth for women of course).

Yesterday I shared with some friends that my feet told me they hate me at mile 15. By mile 18 I was beginning to feel the twinges of various muscles in my legs getting ready to seize up. My fuel belt had lots of different sources of electrolytes, protein, caffeine and sugars to help me along but by mile 20 my stomach was closed for business and threatened to heave its contents if I tried to send anything besides water or some Gatorade its way. By the time I saw mile 25 I was so grateful that I hadn’t fallen down already and started to spontaneously cry with a bike support and old friend by my side asking if I was okay. The finish in sight with half a mile to go and evidently my body still had some liquid adrenaline left to send me through the finish line only to start bawling in relief that it was over.

It was a blessing to run and raise money for IOCC – International Christian Orthodox Charities during this particular race and wear my friend’s campaign material for her run for City Commissioner in West Palm Beach. I will admit that running for something or someone other than yourself does help when facing physical challenges—a reason why many former collegiate or professional athletes still enjoy their sport when supporting charities in their retirement.

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In addition, I cannot “tag” enough people or thank enough my own local family, including my mom Vanessa, my husband Thomas and kids, my sister Artemis and niece who were out there giving me water and encouragement that I never knew I would need as much as I did yesterday— support bike Cecilio not to be excluded of course or my dear Molly Ragsdale who has coached me in the past and my Newman sister Shannon Fox as they ran 13.1 at a good pace for my first half. There are people out there who will also never know how much their clap or cheering meant to many of us running that race—but thank you!

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Epilogue

I could write a page for every mile I ran yesterday but I’ll condense it into a couple of paragraphs describing what I observed and what philosophical reaction I have had to it all.

To the old friends and colleagues alike I saw, they ran or they were supportive, it all mattered so much. There were those I didn’t know but saw their sacrifice for charities, for family and friends and yet others running or racing in their wheelchairs because it celebrates life—that we’re all here together regardless of our backgrounds and what we’ve overcome in our respective lives.

When you’re a seasoned athlete in your sport, it may be daunting to continue past the age when it’s considered the “peak” season. Personally, I’ve been running in road races for over 30 years.

We learn even more about our strengths and priorities, however, when we venture into that unknown field beyond the youthful speed so plentiful with running and learn to see our accomplishments and that of our loved ones in a different light. We evolve to give ourselves and others grace.

Gratitude. I personally was grateful to finish this last marathon in one piece never mind that it was the slowest I’ve ever ran in this distance. I’ve recommended to family and friends alike that if they’re physically able they should consider trying to complete a marathon at least once in their lives—it’s a “time-out” like none other in life.

R.V.S.B.

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Wyoming Life

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