The Redemption Race

“Some days it just flows and I feel like I was born to do this, other days it feels like I'm trudging through hell. Every day I make the choice to show up and see what I've got, and to try to be better. My advice: keep showing up.” - 2018 Boston Marathon Champ, Des Linden

I started the 2018 OKC Memorial Marathon feeling absolutely amazing. I started out faster than I initially intended, 7:30 - 7:45 pace. I knew it was going to get hot and I knew I was going to have a head wind on the way to the finish, so I thought I should try to give myself some extra time at the beginning. 

At the halfway mark I saw Christie and Deana, seeing them pushed me and I thought, this is going to happen.

This is a good day.

The first 14 miles were incredible, sub 8 min pace. I had the wind at my back and the weather was in the 60s. I was killing it. I thought I had a sub 3:30 in the bag.

I thought the BQ was mine. 

I started to slow down a bit the next few miles, but at mile 18 I was still on pace for a 3:30 finish. I still felt like it was my day. I had given myself the perfect amount of time. All I had to do was maintain an 8 - 8:15 min pace to hit my goal. 

My dad drove around the course and saw me at several different mile markers. He really is the best dad. He saw me at mile 19 and could tell by my face I was starting to struggle. He hurried and got a HotShot ready for me when I passed by, I was so thankful, because the cramps were starting fast. 

Then it got hot, really hot. 

By mile 20 I was so overheated. I could feel my legs buckling, I got chills, and I started seeing black. My heart rate was through the roof. I was struggling to catch my breathe. Dehydration and heat exhaustion were setting in.

I felt awful, and it was like someone just flipped a switch in me, I went from feeling good to feeling like death. 

I took it really easy, and I mean really easy, for the next couple miles, poured all the water I could on my head and tried to keep myself from falling over. It was hard, I was starting to feel defeated. My pace slowed down and I calculated the splits and I saw this dream, this goal I wanted to accomplish so badly just disappear from view. I was pissed. Not again, this year was supposed to be my year.

This is my redemption run, this was where I tackle this course.

This was where I was supposed to qualify for Boston. 

Just when I was starting to go to a really negative place mentally, I saw Carrie and her sister, Angela, at mile 23. 

I was so happy to see Carrie. I was able to pick up the pace enough to get to her quickly, I knew if I could get to Carrie she could get me to the finish. She would know what to do, she would know what to say. And I was right. 

Carrie and Angela got water for me, poured it on my head, blocked the wind, made sure I ran in the shade as much as possible. They watched to make sure I wasn't going to pass out, and if I did, they were prepared to catch me. Carrie told me to picture our regular running route, to try and make it easier, to make me feel more comfortable and it made a huge difference mentally and physically. 

My heart rate went down, and I realized that this was still a good day. I could still have a massive, and I mean massive PR. 

They ran me all the way to the turn before the finish, where they handed me off to Deana. Deana was ready for me. She had cowbell in hand and she knew all the things to say to help me get to the finish. D is a very experience, very talented marathoner. Seeing her there waiting for me, encouraging me gave me so much strength. She cheered for me and rang that cowbell so loud. 

I couldn’t have done it without those three. There is nothing better than having a team and support system to lean on in times of trouble. 

I finished and saw so many texts from my friend Lisa, even from her vacation in Florida, she was tracking me and pushing me along.  Her text as I was nearing the finish said "You are about to finish!!! I know it's not what you wanted, but you are now a seasoned marathoner and one step closer to chasing the unicorn! Today wasn't the day, but it will happen! And we will keep chasing and have a blast doing it!! Great job, way to stick with it. It's hot!! You did it!!!!!!"  

Thank God for my Wahoo Running crew.

I started this race feeling like I was born to do this, and I finished feeling like I was trudging through hell. 

Christie told me to ask myself these three questions after each race:

1.) What did I do well?

2.) What did I learn?

3.) What am I going to do about what I learned?

1.) I ran really well for the first 18 miles. I fueled well. I drank water well on the course. I had a lot of fun. 

2.) I learned that I do not run as well in the hot weather as I do in cold weather. 

3.) If there is a chance that the weather is going to be crap, I have to prepare myself for it mentally and not get so discouraged when things aren't going my way. 

I had 3 goals for this race -

1. Finish
Beat my personal record
Qualify for Boston

2 out of 3 isn’t that bad.

My finishing time was 3:43:17, nearly 30 minutes faster than my 1st marathon last year.

And I’m already planning my next marathon. Boston is still in my future, maybe in 2019, maybe not until 2020, but it's there, I will get it. And I still have NYC next November, which is a really big deal. 

A friend told me after the race, "The marathon was and is a test of survival. To attempt it is a triumph, to finish it a victory. After that it's just numbers. Your numbers will come."

I can't expect to be the best marathoner on my second attempt, but everyday I make the choice to show up and to try to be better than I was the day before. And eventually my numbers will come. Thank you for another humbling race, OKC, I can assure you I will come back year after year to support this amazing race. 

Keep showing up.