Thirty-Five and Counting

When I started running in late 2012, a half marathon seemed like an impossible challenge. I found training schedules online and became dedicated to reaching this goal I didn’t even realize I had until one day I just wanted to complete it.

My nature is not the “one and done” type. Some people are, but I am not. It’s my addictive personality. Something that drives me to keep pushing and moving forward until I’m satisfied I can’t go any further.

To be perfectly frank, I have crossed sixteen half marathon finish lines in two years and only ONCE did I think to myself I could probably go once more. To be perfectly clear, I had no desire to run more than thirteen point one miles ever.

Pregnancy can make you do funny things. You’d think the third time around I would have had a better grasp on that. Not so much. Just before I found out I was pregnant, the hormones had already kicked in and I was entering lotteries for marathons in Berlin and New York. Looking back, I’m not sure what I was thinking about… Getting so gutsy out of nowhere. Thankfully, I didn’t get in those races as I couldn’t have travelled to those locations as I was so pregnant by then. God was smiling on me.

Eight and a half months pregnant, I decided I would sign up for the 30th anniversary Los Angeles Marathon. What would possess me to do such a thing you ask? I have no real solid answer for you. I kept thinking to myself if I was ever going to run a marathon, I wanted to do so by the time I turned thirty-six. LAM was running two weeks before my birthday.

All the while recovering from my C-section, I kept telling myself I would be fine to train in eight weeks. I had a solid base running half marathons, so I would just need to build the miles. When time came to do the training runs, I would cut them short or just bail on them completely. Things were looking grim.

There’s the great quote which states “I don’t like to gamble, but if there’s one thing I’m willing to bet on, it’s myself”. That’s me. In a nutshell, it’s talking directly to me. I knew it was risky setting out to run twenty-six point two miles under these circumstances, but I knew deep down I would finish. My sheer determination would carry me.

I injured my right knee the week before LAM in San Diego running the half marathon there. I had never injured any part of my body during a race before, so I was scared. To compound my already nervous fears, I read the weather each day leading to the race was getting warmer and warmer. Talk about horrible luck! What could I do at this point? Bow out? No way, no how. This was going to happen.

I ran the LA Big 5K on Saturday to work through my jitters and it could be one of the smartest decisions I ever made. Getting a chance to familiarize myself with the layout at Dodger Stadium for Sunday’s race made me feel a thousand times better for what was coming. I enjoyed a leisurely and relaxing run with a seasoned veteran named Wesley. He gave me great advice and I felt so lucky to have finally met him as we share many mutual friends. It was fate we were brought together that particular morning.

I slept more on Saturday night than I normally do before a race. This helped me to feel more at ease and less stressed the morning of. I was feeling confident in myself and tried not to get into my head too much.

I arrived early to the start line and just waited. My running bestie, Laurel kept the conversation light and helped me to get into the right mindset to head out. When the race began, I felt good.

Throughout the course, we stuck to the intervals method of Jeff Galloway as Laurel had success with this during her other marathons. I trusted her and she knows me, so we went with it and it worked like a charm. We saw many friends along the route and each smile and greeting put my heart more at ease. Before we knew it, we had reached the halfway point.

Then the heat began to kick in full force. It was reaching eighty degrees and we were just trying to stay hydrated and focused. Once we got to nineteen, Laurel felt her knee give and told me to go ahead. I felt horrible leaving her, but by then we had found another friend, Sandra and they would stay together.

At this point, I kept telling myself I only needed to finish a 10K and it would be done. My best friend, Jason chased me down by car with his fiancé, Brian and their cheers and hugs provided me with much needed moral support.

Within two miles, the heat was more than I could handle and it caused me to vomit. I knew I didn’t need to stop, I just needed to slow down. When I threw up a second time a mile later, I realized the finish line would only be possible if I walked. Not pretty, but I would finish.

And that’s just what I did. My time wasn’t ideal, but I wasn’t last and my body felt great after. I didn’t hurt and by then, my nausea was gone. I didn’t care. I just kept thinking if I had trained, I wonder what my time could have been. It was in that moment I knew, I would be running another marathon.

Suffice it to say, I already entered the lottery for Chicago and will register for LAM tomorrow. My Valentine’s Day next year will be spent running from the stadium to the sea again. Where will you be?

Side note: I can be seen on the front page of the Long Beach Press-Telegram and on the digital copy of the LA Times. In addition, you can spot me in the LA Marathon video of the start. Don’t blink though or you’ll miss me. Thank you to Sparkle Athletic for not only adding sparkle wherever I run, but also making me super easy to spot even in a sea of 26,000 people.

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