Monday, December 10, 2007

Mindful Marathoning

This morning I was amazed by the glorious sunrise that I watched from my deck.  I was also amazed at the fact that my legs were working. Let me tell you why.

Yesterday, I ran a marathon.

Big deal, right?  I've run them before, you may say.  But this time, it was different.  It was the first time that I did not, at some point, swear that I would never, ever run one again.  

I ran with my BGFF Karen (pictured here, with me, at my graduation last June) to support her during her second marathon.  She had signed up almost a year ago with the hopes to achieve a certain time goal.  Due to a late start in the training schedule and numerous time constraints (she teaches high school, is the assistant cross-country coach and has 5 church callings and a husband), she came up against the marathon with a shortage of long runs.
Normally, during the course of training for a marathon, long runs reach distances of 20+ miles. Over several months, a runner 'builds up' to at least one 20-miler and completes it no later than 3 weeks before the scheduled marathon.   Well, our long runs reached a 14-miler, which is perfect. If you are running a half-marathon.  To say the least, Karen felt unprepared.  And alone:  her husband Phil, who had signed up with her, did not train at all.  Yet, she was determined to run anyway. 

I was not training for the marathon.  I had no intention of running it this year, especially after running it last year and it being a dismal affair.  The Honolulu Marathon is hot, crowded, and they give you an apple to eat when it is over.  An. Apple.  After burning about 3,000 calories and sweating for hours, they have an apple for the runners.  There was no way I was running it again.  Until I saw Karen's sad and lonely face.  That is when I decided I would go the distance, so to speak, with her.  It wasn't that she couldn't do it without me--her mental toughness is far superior to mine--but I knew we could do better together.

And, it was AMAZING.  We knew that we had not trained enough.  But, we had trained together, so we came up with a plan.  After being warned several times by my husband that I was going to be sore and unhappy, we showed up at the start line at 4:30am, in the dark and in the rain, along with the throngs of the Japanese that fly in specifically for this race.  Our stomachs were nervous, our digestive tracts were on double-time, but as we watched the fireworks go off at the 5am start, we got excited!  We knew what we were in for, but we did it anyway.  We went, we ran, we conquered.  We had our ups and our downs, we got really tired and ate energy gels when we thought we might throw them up, we walked a bit and we laughed a lot.  And we took over 30 minutes off of Karen's time for last year's marathon.

Here is why I think we did so well, not having completed proper training:  we had great attitudes and presence of mind.  We had no expectations except to finish sometime before they took the finish line down.  We stayed in the moment of the race.  We allowed our aches and tiredness to come along for the ride, but did not allow them to dictate our run.  We got really wet and super sweaty, but it really does come down to taking care of yourself mentally. Staying in the moment.  Going with the flow.  Oh, and we changed our wet, sloshy shoes for nice dry ones at mile 18 (thanks, Phil!!).
Yes, my legs are indeed sore today, a marathon hangover of sorts.  They worked well enough for a restorative walk down the beach with that amazing sunrise at my back.  I will run a marathon again, and with proper training, too.  And hopefully, with Karen as well.  Yesterday really taught me about the benefits of totally staying in the moment of an experience and how doing things unselfishly can allow us to reap incredible rewards (well, I wasn't completely unselfish--I really wanted that finisher's t-shirt!!).   Plus, it is just plain good to have a genuine friend at your side.   Thanks, Karen!  And thank you, Dave and Phil, for being great sports!


Luisa Perkins said...

Oh, the awesomeness of you. Congratulations! You never cease to amaze me.

luisaj said...

Holy Cow! You are AMAZING!!!!!

Luisa Perkins said...

I thought of you while I was mindfully rowing my tushie off this morning.

I tagged you for a meme today, BTW. Please play!