Monday, May 26, 2014

Mount Everest, The 2014 Ottawa Marathon

I knew when I started this run that I was not where I should be in my training. I had a number of injuries that I was still trying to recover from. But, I had entered and I wanted to participate in this run, so my plan was to just run as far as I felt I could and call it a day.

The run started out jut fine. I started at the back of the pack, slowly built up my pace until I was holding a steady 6:45 per K. I was very happy with this but knew I would not be able to keep it up for very long. As I thought, by about the 18K mark my injuries got the better of me and I was forced to back way off. By this time I couldn't help but notice how busy all the aid stations were getting. People were pulling out as early as the 12K mark. Now in my mind, this had become a challenge. Now I was in it to the bitter end. I wanted that medal!

During this blind-eyed adventure, I think I experienced every emotion there was to experience.

Determination. I was going to finish this thing, one way or another.

Compassion. At around the 25K mark I came up on a young woman who was walking and crying. She was clearly in a lot of pain. I could relate to this. I came up beside her and asked if she was all right. She looked at me and told me through her tear-filled eyes that her knees really hurt. I asked her if she would like me to send back a first aid person for her. She sobbed and said no and then resumed running and sped off. Just a couple of minutes later I came upon her again, walking across the very narrow Alexandra bridge, oblivious to all the runners doing their best not to run into her. I came up behind her and gently guided her over to the side where she would be less likely to be run into. I stayed with her most of the way across the bridge and then got on my way again. I didn't see her again.

Sadness and loneliness. At somewhere around the 32K mark, the best I could manage was speed walking. I was no longer in any kind of group. I had fallen behind most runners but well out in front of the walkers. So there I was, working my way down this long empty stretch of road, not able to run anymore and in a lot of pain. I don't remember ever feeling so lonely. There was nothing I could do but quit when I came to the next aid station. This just made me feel very sad and defeated. I stopped and looked around behind me to see if I could spot the young woman with the bad knees. No one in sight but a couple of slower runners working their way toward me. Where the hell was I? over 7,000 participants started this event. Now I was almost completely alone!

Anger and shame. Here I was, walking!! what the hell!!! In the back of my mind I knew I shouldn't have even started this run. I knew I would end up in trouble if I was silly enough to try and finish it. So the next best thing my head could do was to get angry at my body. I was just a raw emotion. I couldn't rationalize it and at that moment, I couldn't stop it. I was just angry. And at the same time, I was ashamed of myself. When I first entered this run, I had grand plans of not just beating last year's time, I was going to smash it! Now look at me. Reduced to speed walking, and getting slower.

Pain and disappointment. At about the 41K mark I was hit with such a terrible pain in my left calf, it felt like a knife thrust into the side of my calf and then quickly drawn downward toward the ankle. I have never experienced anything even close to that before in my life and hope I never do again. I stumbled and almost fell to the ground. I was able to make my way over to a hand rail that I grabbed on to. NOT NOW! I am just too close! All this suffering and work was going to end within less than 2 kilometers of the finish line. I tried my best to stretch the calf and much to my relief, the pain started to subside. Someone had pulled that knife back out. I was able to start moving again. What a relief. I was going to cross that finish line now, no matter what!

Happiness. I was within 800 meters of the finish line and a volunteer known as a Running Angel came up to me. She could see I was in an incredible amount of pain. She started walking along with me just talking to me, trying to encourage me along. It worked. With her support and encouragement I was actually able to get up to a slow but sloppy run. Style and form counted for nothing now. I could see the finish line. The two of us crossed it together. I MADE IT!! I just about collapsed the moment I crossed the finish line but I was across. Now, where is that stupid medal! I have never worked so hard for anything in my life.

It took me about 20 minutes or so but I was eventually able to move slowly around the recovery area. Sara was there to help and support me. It was over. My second marathon.

When I started running back in 2011, I had set a goal for myself to run one marathon, just to experience it. It seemed like a lofty goal at that time. Now I have done it a second time. I don't know why I signed up for a second marathon. I have climbed my Mount Everest, twice. I must be crazy.

Anyway, I have now run several half marathons, half a dozen 10K runs and I don't know how many other shorter runs. I do think that this is it for me for marathons. So what now? I have already thinking about that one. I want to try trail running. I hear there is a run near Milton this summer that I think I can get in. It is only about 14K long and is 100% on a trail in the woods.

I love a challenge!

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