Two years ago, on a cold morning I weighted about 300 lbs and stood along the side of numerous roads in Gainesville as I watched 1000s of people complete the Five Points of Life Half and Full Marathon. At that time I clearly stated (in my somewhat too opinionated way) that I thought all of those runners were crazy. Truth be told, I didn’t think they were crazy, they were part of a world I knew nothing about, and like many people who are plagued with low self-esteem, I judged that I was scared of. Inside I was intrigued by this whole new world I was viewing and really wanted to be a part of it. Thank you to all of those runners for motivating me to get moving (especially my mentor and friend, Carly Asse).
One year ago, on a cold morning I weighted about 145 lbs and stood in line waiting to run that very race which I so strikingly made fun of the a year ago. I knew I had trained and was ready for the run (I did the exact route just one week before, because I was so worried about it). I completed that half marathon and it was one of the best days of my life. I had supportive friends, a new life, and all was going well. Unexpected to me, but I had started to motivate others as well, and it felt great. It left me wondering what goal I should conquer next?
Today was the day for me accomplish another goal. I had trained for months. Hours spent on long runs, on my one day off a week, prepared me to be ready for the big one….a full marathon. 26.2 miles was going to feel amazing. Before tapering off my training, I had to completed a 24 mile run, a 22 miler, and a few 20 mile training runs (more miles than what was recommended, but I had to do it to feel prepared. I was ready! My supportive friends helped me train (one special one even got me an iPod just to use on the big day!!!). I am definitely not fast. Heck, my goal was to finish before they took down the finish line! But I had dreams of crossing that finish line. I could already see 26.2 sticker on my car!! Then bam! I come down with what I first thought was seasonal allergies. The day after my last long run before taking my training (which took place in cold weather on the Hawthorne trail), I woke up congested and sniffly. I passed it off to allergies and took it easy for a few days. Normally my immune system would kick a cold quickly, but the stress of training took its toll. I came down with a horrendous head cold that travelled into my chest. Anyone that knows me, knows that I don’t like to take medicine, but I made an exception for this beast of a cold. I netty potted, vicks vap-o rubbed, vitamin c dropped, fluid flushed, home-made souped…basically I did anything I could to try to get the fluids out of my lungs and help my breathing.
The night before the marathon, I slept a full 9 hours. Woke up and had a good morning, besides hacking up my lungs, blowing my nose and having no energy. I get texts from friends and I know that I need to go through with the marathon. I love that I motivate others to eat healthier and hit the gym, so I couldn’t even think of letting those people down! Along with the support of friends I started out on my marathon journey. Oh yeah…is was below 30 degrees out this morning. Since losing my weight, I tend to be really temperature sensitive and get cold really easily. This did not help things. I was doing ok and covered some miles. Blowing my nose on my mittens that was kindly loaned to me, coughing up some mucus along the side of the road, but seeing those mile signs pass….I was doing ok.
Then around mile 10 the wind picked up and it hit me like a tons of bricks which were placed directly on my chest. I immediately had trouble breathing. This was when I realized I couldn’t feel my hands or feet either. The cold was killing me. I think long and hard about the people I motivate, all the people who are rooting for me to finish, and try to dig deep within to continue. The pain in my chest, struggling to breath and now shivering while running (even with 3 layers on) argues for me to stop. Then it hit me. It will motivate no one for me to get a serious health injury running a long distance and EVERYONE will hit challenges in their health. I’m a real person, I’m not a superhero. I get sick, I have bad days, I struggle. I need to make healthy decision, and today it was to turn right instead of left. Right hand turn ends the race with a half marathon, while the left hand turn continues on for the full marathon. I crossed the half marathon finish line with tears in my eyes feeling like I failed at what I trained so hard to complete. I avoid the camera at the finish line and the poor girl with my finisher medal girl had to run me down to give me my medal. Teary, shivering and struggling to breath, I don’t want to talk. I even passed up my race favorite, the banana buffet. I fall into the arms of an amazing friend and walk to the car. The car ride home was tough, as I know my friends wanted to make me feel better, but they have never seen me this upset. And I have never given up on something, nor failed to complete a goal. The feeling was horrible.
Then after warming up with a healthy dose of sauna, a hot shower and a nap, it hit me. I made a decision based on good health, and so should everyone else. It is simple not smart to run a marathon in 30 degree weather with chest congestion. I personally know in my training, that I hit a 24 mile mark and without a doubt could take down that 26.2….just not in the cold with a cold. My trainer has taught me that if something makes me feel good, do more of it, and if something makes me feel crappy, don’t do it. I made the right decision, even though it was a let down to not be able to put that 26.2 on my car. I will survive.