Running For My Life – My First Marathon (SparkPeople)

Originally posted on SparkPeople.

Last Sunday, Feb. 20th, I completed my first marathon. My goal was to finish in under 6 hours, and I did it. My final time was 5:41:54.

I thought for sure I wouldn’t be able to walk afterwards. I thought for sure, I’d be brutally sore for days.

As it turns out, I’m not. I got a 90 minute massage a few hours later, and although I’m likely going to lose two toenails, other than that, I’m just a little sore in the quad area. Perhaps I didn’t run fast enough.

Or perhaps I wasted a lot of time worrying about something that ultimately didn’t happen.

If you’ve read my other two blog posts from this year, you probably know there’s been lots of upheaval in my life. After being married for 21 years, I asked my husband for a separation on the morning of our 21st anniversary.

I thought for sure I couldn’t do this. I thought for sure I’d emotionally implode. I stayed longer than I should have, and he did too. And while it’s true I’m recovering from the marathon much faster than this separation, and while it’s true that this separation is more painful than I could have possibly imagined, it’s had the benefit of shifting our realities, so that no matter what happens, some big change will occur. And many of the things I was worrying would happen by separating were a waste of my worry time, too.

The irony of me training for the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically while going through the hardest thing I’ve ever done emotionally isn’t lost on me. It’s intertwined completely, and the messages and information from each have been great metaphors for the other. In fact, the week of the marathon, the entire answer to one of the most suffocating personal problems we’ve had for three solid years came to me.

During this separation, everything that was never resolved from my childhood has been coming back to haunt me. All the things I thought I could ignore or plow through have shown their nasty faces right in mine, demanding immediate attention. Things I never grieved, interactions I’ve participated in or tolerated, behaviors I’ve continued even in the face of them being toxic, and ways I’ve changed myself to stay in this relationship have devastated me in the past month. Sometimes I’m in so much emotional pain, I can barely breathe.

Everything I thought I could plow through without bothering to understand or do to get ready for the marathon and run it, has come back to haunt me, too. Three weeks ago I ran a Half Marathon as part of this Austin Distance Challenge I just completed. I added another 7 miles to it because I was supposed to do a 20 mile run that day. I ended up with minor heatstroke. I know what I did wrong now – I wore a sub 40 degree shirt, combined with two other shirts and a bra, on a day that turned out to be sporting 80 degree weather. I knew not to add new equipment without trying it out, yet I ignored that information regarding my clothing.

So I’m learning, in both cases, how to create space in my life to do things the careful, attentive, correct way.

In my personal life, I’m learning to grieve, I’m learning to express righteous anger. I’m learning to live with anxiety. I’m learning to respond instead of react. I’m learning to sit still with indecision, rather than making a poor choice to get rid of the uncertainty. I’m learning to create space to think, to consider new possibilities, to accept that a relationship really IS a third being that needs attention. I’m learning to pay attention and prepare a little in advance, too, although this skill will likely take me years to achieve any kind of competency.

In my physical life, I’m learning that I can’t just put on shoes and haul a$$ on the trail. I’m learning about magnesium, potassium, calcium, hydration, protein, carbohydrates. I’m learning about building up my muscles, pacing myself, showing up for the small runs, not just the long ones. I’m learning that I need to take in hydration and nutrition before I’m in trouble. I’m learning that if I want to maintain an injury free body that can run and race for awhile, I need to take care of it when I’m not running, in the same way I need to take care of my heart when it isn’t hurting, not just when it is.

I’ve been getting massages, something that heals both types of aching. I’ve been talking to friends about how to train properly, how soon to race again, and how to take in proper nutrition and hydration so I can endure. I’ve been talking to friends, counselors and coaches about how to solve my personal issues. I’ve been telling them the stories that I HAVEN’T polished off, the ones that are raw and painful, and trusting they will not abandon me.

And I’ve been writing, nearly non-stop, definitely daily, making notes about how to make it through the marathon, and writing my heart out to fix the stuff going on in my life.

I didn’t finish the marathon perfectly. I was going to run 2 minutes, walk 1. There were several times where I walked way more than one. Toward the end, I was happy to note that I was the only one really still doing any running at all. And at the end, I landed myself in the med tent for dizziness and cramps. But I finished, I had an acceptable time, and I recovered quickly.

I’m not fixing all this life stuff perfectly either. I don’t know for sure in the end if I’ll get a divorce or not. I know I’ll likely be separated for a long period of time, and I know there’s a lot of work I’ll have to do, and so will my husband, before we can come back together in any kind of friendship or marriage.

What’s come out of running this marathon, and what’s coming so far from separating from my marriage is a better understanding of my body, my mind, and my heart. It’s been a learning experience on all fronts, and although extraordinarily painful, it’s the proudest I’ve been of myself physically and mentally in a long time.

I’ve got at least a basic understanding now of how to train for this Austin Distance Challenge so next year when I sign up, I’ll do better. I’ve got a basic understanding now of the work I need to do on a personal level, so maybe soon, I’ll be in a better space on that, too.

So many things have shifted in my life. I’ve always been a believer that things don’t happen for a reason, that coincidences are just that. But so many things have come together, and the people that are in my life are so perfect for me in this moment, that it’s hard to continue that belief system. I’m learning to live with uncertainty on this, too, and I’m learning that I don’t have to explain, understand and believe everything to accept and function inside of it.

I’m getting out of town for a few days, leaving tomorrow morning. Three of the days, I’ll be off my cell phone (likely freezing my a$$ off in Maine!), something I haven’t done in years. I’ve got a big to-do list of course, but what I like about it is that it includes space in it to do things that honor who I am and where I want to go. I’ll be focusing on my future, while hanging out with friends.

On Sunday, I’m meeting some of you from the Boston area. THANK YOU LAB-LOVER for putting that together. What a brilliant wrap up to an unbelievable first two months of 2011 to hang out with you and meet some of you for the first time.

I knew things were going to change when that clock rolled over to 2011. I knew I’d be running hard this year in ways I’ve never run before. I love that I ran for my life at the same time I’m running for my life, and although it’s been freaking scary every mile, I am committed to making it worth each ounce of sweat and tears I pour into it.

I’ve learned a lot, and I intend to share some of the details of that over time, but for now, thanx for reading and being my friend. I’m looking forward to seeing what race is next, and to learning how best to run it.

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