It's been four days since the 113th Annual Boston Marathon and it's the first time I have been able to sit down to blog about it. Cyndi's not the spring chicken she once was (insert chuckle here), so it takes her longer to work towards having those "aha moments".
What does all this have to do with the marathon? For God's sake woman, just get on with it!
Okay, okay, okay...
I rode the bus to Hopkinton with my friend, Christine (I always try to mention her at least once per entry), and my teammates, the Hunger Strikers. The bus ride was a lot of fun, like it was last year. We laugh, we joke, we encourage each other, etc. Once we arrived at Athlete's Village, we took pictures, checked out some of the sights and took full advantage of the fact that we had a bathroom on the bus (how cool is that??? No lines, no waiting).
Before you know it, the time had come to make the trek to our corrals. Unfortunately, Christine and I got separated, so I didn't get to start the race with her. However, let me say before continuing this tale that she ran a personal best on Monday and qualified for next year. Great job to my partner and friend.
Now, back to our story.
I ran the first half of the race with my teammate, Heidi, who is one of the sweetest, friendliest people I've ever had the privilege of meeting. We were running at a comfortable pace in an effort to conserve our energy for the hills that awaited us between miles 17-21. Once we reached the half marathon, we high fived each other, knowing that we were 50% done.
So, I was pretty much alone with my thoughts from that moment on. I continued to run, not quite knowing how this whole thing was going to turn out. I just kept going...through Wellesley, on to Comm Ave, up Heartbreak Hill and got to BC, which is about mile 21. At that moment, I decided to see what I had left.
I crossed the finish line in 3 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds.
My initial reaction was an overwhelming sense of relief. I had been sweating this day for months now; all those long runs in the cold...all the emails, blogs, and networking in an attempt to raise the money for Lazarus House finally resulting in bringing me to the end of my journey.
Once I turned in my chip, received my medal, got my bag off the bus and found my friends and family, the bone crushing disappointment set it.
Um, say what?
You heard me.
But, Cyndi, you must be CRAZY! You have run 3 marathons in a 12 month period, all of which were under 4 hours. How many people can say they did that????
Now, I'll show you my "aha moment". But, in order to do that, I must start from the beginning.
I had been entertaining notions of doing a marathon in the fall of 2007. A couple of my friends were thinking about training for a fall marathon in 2008. I was the short distance person and scoffed at the thought. But, decided, why not?
As luck (or life) would have it, the plan changed. These two friends of mine were able to get #’s for Boston through their local track club. How could you pass something like that up? So, instead of the fall marathon, the plan was Boston. Now, I had to see if I could get a #.
That’s how I found Lazarus House…while I searched for a charity that would take me.
Long story short, I was full of piss and vinegar (pardon the crude expression) during this time. It was my first marathon and it was Boston, dammit! I trained, I fundraised, I celebrated the entire process. I wanted to just finish and if I broke four hours, all the better. As it turns out, I ran 3:55 at my first marathon EVER and, must say, I was giddy.
Then, I decided to see if I could get faster. I am a fitness fanatic/gym rat/avid runner and have done well in local 5K’s and 5 milers. I’m more competitive than I care to admit.
I began training 4-6 weeks later for the Maine marathon (10/5/08). I balanced long runs with 5k’s, 5 milers, teaching group fitness classes, relay races, etc. Nine days before, I went to the dr. complaining of pain and cold/flu like symptoms. After an x-ray, it showed an infiltrate on the lower right lung. On the Z-pack I went.
But, I pressed on. On October 5, I ran the Maine marathon in 3:52, 4 days removed from anti-biotics. I was pleased, considering all that I had overcome to get there. I figured shaving 3 minutes off was quite an accomplishment. Would it have been nice to turn in a 3:45? Sure! But hey, I was sick. It was okay.
Then…I decided to try and train for Hyannis (is this getting old yet?) in the hopes of decreasing my registration fee for Boston and moving up in the pack so I didn’t have to try and pass 8,000 runners like my first Boston (selfish, I know, but I have to be honest). However, as time went on, it was clear to me that recovery was what I really needed as my breathing took a while to return to normal. Respiratory infections take a lot out of a person. Even though I’m fit, I’m still human. Even though I passed on Hyannis, I continued to run, workout, push myself.
Finally, the invitation to return to Lazarus House presented itself and I couldn’t say no. Maybe I should have, but I really love them and had so much fun last time. Plus, two of my friends were running for charity and it was to be their first Boston. How can you turn away long run training partners?
I have been pushing myself beyond my limits for a good six months now. I am overtrained. My heart wasn’t in the right place when I got to the line on Monday because I am totally and completely DEPLETED. However, despite my apathy, I felt so incredibly disappointed that I didn’t PR at the end of it all. What did I expect? I didn’t train to PR. I trained to finish. And I did that.
Disappointment and heartbreak are a part of life and this too shall pass. I would like to say that I had 100% noble and selfless reasons for doing Boston this time around, but perhaps I was mistaken. Sometimes, it takes 26.2 miles to humble a person. I was humbled on Monday. In spite of my mediocre training regimen and mentally exhausted self, I never allowed myself to quit. So, I guess that gives me hope for accomplishing something really great once I recover – physically, emotionally and mentally.
Most importantly, I had the incredible privilege to help others on the road to a better life by raising over $3,700 for a very worthy cause. I am ashamed that this in and of itself isn’t enough to take the sting out. But, it’s a start and I am truly blessed.
The point I am making here and the lesson that I got out of it was simply I need to do what is right for me. Am I saying that you should just look out for numero uno and never lend a hand to help another. Absolutely not. But, you must have the right motivation in order to do the right thing. Hindsight is 20/20 and I had to go through all of this in order to have my "aha moment", my epiphany.
To thine ownself be true. No one can live their lives for other people and do what they THINK others expect them to do. Happiness cannot be found in fulfilling other people's expectations.
Maybe I'll run another marathon someday and maybe I won't. But the lessons, aha moments and epiphanies that presented themselves in this one won't soon be forgotten.
I can't think of a more fitting way to end this blog entry:
Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.--Hardy D. Jackson
Thanks to all of you who read my blog and care about me. I love you all!