9.24.2013

Maui Marathon: When Dreams Slip Away

Expo board signing
It has been two sleeps since I ran the Maui Marathon. Two sleeps is enough time to let some of the rawness of emotion slip away but not so long that there isn't any of it left. I think this is the perfect time to write my post.

The Maui Marathon.

It is a race I have done multiple years. In 2010 I ran the half marathon. That was my first step into marathoning. It was a strategic step. The launching pad and building block to run my first marathon in 2011 and yes, it was the Maui Marathon. 2013 represented my third consecutive year to run the Maui Marathon and my fourth marathon. I had big dreams. Big goals. High hopes. And when it comes down to it, even though I put my faith in higher hands I truly believed my goal was doable and in reach. I totally believed I could, and would, break a 4:20 marathon. I envisioned success. I believed.

Race packet
Race morning came but not without glitches. I had issues with my play list that I resolved at essentially the last moment. Darling daughter started getting some tummy issues but after consideration, reflection, etc. we stuck to our plan for her to stay the night at a dear friend of mine, her Hawaiian Auntie and Uncle's. She had a blast of a time and I worried. It is the mom in me but when it came down to it, I was ready to run.

At the start I actually bumped into a sweet lady I had been coaching to run her first marathon. It was nice to see her at the start, talk a bit, and see her enthusiasm. Her goals changed during training and today it was to just finish....okay, hopefully finish under 5 hours. I am sure many of you can relate to the no time goal kinda having a time goal behind it. I totally understood her drive and knew she would achieve her dreams. She did.

There was a little fire dance show before all the runners lined up in their corrals and walked to the start. With a final drumming the start flag lowered and streamers shot into the air. And just like that, the race started.

I focused on starting smart and fell immediately into a running pace that felt just right. At mile 2 I checked in on my pace. Yep, a little fast but not my typical too fast start. I was happy with it. I felt good and strong. Shortly thereafter the lady I had been coaching was at my side and we started pacing each other. Yes, my goal was to break a 4:20 marathon. Her goal was to finish. But I knew her training paces and I knew we were fine running together. We did until mile 11 or so when she let me know I could "go get your 4:20". I gave her a thumbs up and kept on running happy.

I was feeling good. We had been maintaining a steady pace and didn't get crazy on the pali hills. I ran through the tunnel alone and knew I was approaching the second half of the course and nerves started building up. Historically it is the second half of this course that kills me. Last year it was miserable. I feared a repeat occurrence and tried to remind myself it is a whole new year, a new race. At the halfway mark I was at 2 hours. My mind worried a bit as I was just ahead of the time I hit this mark last year and last year my body got beat up. I reminded myself last year I was also hurting by now. I wasn't hurting. I told myself I was fine.

I really don't remember much of the next 5 miles. The beach stretch didn't bug me like it did the year before but I was heating up. At mile 18 I can definitely tell you I started walking. My head was fuzzy. I was going to just walk a few cones and start running again. The walking lasted longer than I wanted. It was hard to get to running again but I did. At mile 18 I was still on target to break 4:20 but I also knew my window of opportunity was beginning to close. I knew I couldn't keep slowing down and achieve my goal. I ran/walk and tried to keep my electrolytes up and the fuzzy head feeling at bay. Somewhere along the line I took a shaved ice that was offered and savored the ice. At mile 21 I was dying and at this point all my emotions became very raw. I knew the 4:20 was gone. I didn't see how I could convert this run/walk pace into 10'00" miles to the end. I felt I could still PR and tried to motivate myself to reach for my A goal instead of my A+ goal. I couldn't find the drive. At that point in time, a PR didn't matter. I didn't want a PR. I wanted to break 4:20. I know it sounds odd. A PR is wonderful and would have been cherished but in all reality, I was frustrated, mad, annoyed, disheartened, beat up. Take your pick.

Bad thoughts plagued me for the next mile. I was ready to give up this darn marathoning idea. Perhaps it wasn't for me. Perhaps it wasn't meant for me to ever achieve my dreams. Perhaps I was no good. And that darn Honolulu Marathon in December? Well, I only paid $26.20 and I'm not going. Dear hubby can go and stay in the hotel room himself! Hmmm....I bought my airline ticket already. Okay, I'm going. But I give up on reaching my goals! I'm done! Never again! But I kinda like my running streak. I am running tomorrow!

The main thing that really struck me though is that I felt I was letting people down. Each and every person who believed in me and told me that had faith in me. I felt like I was failing you and that hurt the worst. It took time for me to realize I was running for me, not anyone else really. That my story wasn't a story of failure per se. Yes, I wasn't going to reach my goals. Yes, I would tell the world about my experience. But I am not the only runner in the world to watch a goal slip away. And I had a B goal. To come out of this race ready to train for the Honolulu. How ironic is it that the race I was ready to skip was becoming my priority? That deep down those dreams of breaking a 4:20 in December were outweighing a PR today. I didn't fully realize in that minute that was where my priorities were but I do see it now.

I needed to finish this race. I noticed my hand feeling tight and looked down to see my hands were indeed swollen. I was also craving salt like crazy. I just wanted pretzels. I skipped on plain water and only did sports drinks to keep electrolytes coming in and hoped there was a good amount of sodium in them. I even went as far to take some trail mix that was offered since I saw a nut and was dreaming of salt. That almond had no salt and only achieved one thing - making me very sick to my stomach. I dug deep and told myself I was doing my best. Walking was okay. I told myself that my fast walk may even be faster than the slow jog I was doing. I told myself it was okay.

My results
But that didn't erase all the hurt. It didn't prevent me from welling up with tears when I saw dear hubby waiting for me with about a half mile to go and for feeling like I let him down...and yes, I did run the final stretch. It didn't take the bite out of my response when he told me to go do it and that this is the point I blew past him last year. It didn't prevent me from going over to the corner, huddling, and crying with my medal around my neck. It is not preventing me from tearing up while writing this post. The tears were the tears of loss. The tears of coming to terms with just running my second slowest marathon. My time was 4:39:46. I placed 8th in my division. I was finally able to pull myself together and get up to look for dear hubby. It took a bit until I spotted him chatting away with friends. I walked past them to the stone wall and sat down. I didn't want to talk. Tears were still welling up in my eyes. I felt weak and embarrassed. The darling Japanese man who had been shuffling "with"  me along the course sat down by me, looked at me, and said "okay, okay". I nodded, smiled, and tears snuck out below my sunglasses.

Top 8 F 40-44 Maui Marathon 2013
Okay, okay. That said it all. Yes, we were okay. Yes, we finished. Yes, we did it. Yes, I am okay, my body wasn't completely beat up. Okay, it is time to move on.

Eventually the tears dried up and I could chat with other runners and the stories were very similar. So many of us saw our goals slip away at about the same time. Saw our best race ever change into something else. It seems to be the ongoing story of the Maui Marathon. The second half is hot. Watch The Ultramarathon Man 50 Marathons, 50 States, 50 Days....the heat in the second half enters that story too.

Yesterday morning I woke up sore but not dying. My stiff legs carried me to my car to drive to work. On the way tears welled up again probably motivated by the fear of answering questions of how I did and feeling like a failure, that I let people down. Yes, that feeling was still toying with me. It didn't take long for me to refocus my mind and come up with the idea to get a running coach. Yes, I am a coach. Yes, I can make killer plans. But perhaps I need someone looking over me and pushing me. Helping me to dig deeper and not give in to excuses. Because in all reality, I know a number doesn't matter but I also know I want to set a good example for darling daughter. An example of not giving up. An example of pushing for your dreams and doing everything you can to achieve them. The only failure is not trying and giving it your all. And I refuse to fail. I may fall down a million times but I will get back up. And I have to believe that one day will be my day. I have faith.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful that the running coach I contacted is willing to train me when I also have my side goal of running every single day.
Daily Affirmation: I am okay.

7 comments:

  1. You inspire may of us....don't loose faith, all in God's timing and will. Hugs

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  2. Hang in there! We ALL have tough races and we all have races where we don't get the goal we were shooting for. We can't "win" every "game". :) The trick is to keep getting back out there and giving it your best, and eventually it will pay off and you will get that goal and your big WIN. Hugs!

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  3. Thank you for writing this blog. I think you are amazing!!!

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  4. In no way did you give up. If you'd given up you would have sat on the side of the road when the going got tough and not finished the race. You toughed it out when you were hurting and made it through to the end. That's real tenacity!

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  5. I think this "let people down" attitude is one of the dangers of making a running life public - both in "real" life, and on a blog. Because at the end of the day, we're all human. We have good days, and bad. Good races, and bad. Strong finishes, and complete disasters. ANYONE who is a runner knows this. Trust me, we've ALL been on a course, in the midst of a breakdown, feeling miserable and disappointed and thinking about "What everyone else is going to say/think..." about our finish time.

    But really? Ultimately? "Everyone else" wants you to be safe, strong, and fit. Of course "everyone else" wants you to reach your goals - but "everyone else" knows that bad races happen, for a multitude of reasons. And "everyone else" will be there to try to lift you up and cheer you on for your next attempt. Your harshest judge, on the course and in the aftermath, is YOURSELF.

    So breathe. Relax. Order some salt tabs (after reading this report, I'm feeling so sure that you are right about needing them). Enjoy a week or two of schedule-free workouts/running. Then review your plan, talking to your coach (!!!!), and lace up your sneakers. There will always be more races, and new opportunities. Look ahead, not behind. There is so much yet to come!!

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  6. You in no way disappointed any of us! We understand your hurt but you continue to inspire so keep it up! The 4:20 will be yours!

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  7. Congrats on finishing a tough race! Thank you for the very honest recap. There are always things to be learned even from difficult races. I am sure the experience will pay off next time.

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