Outer Banks Marathon

Marathon weekend has now come and gone.  Boy was it an event.  It started off with a Saturday wake up call to a very sick Charlie.  I was scheduled to run the 5k at 10 am.  Needless to say that didn’t happen.  I was starting to worry that he would not be well enough for me to leave him on Sunday morning to run the half.  It’s so interesting because a week ago, I was wondering if I even still wanted to do it.  Then at the thought of not being able to go got me all worked up.  Of course my first priority is Charlie.  But I realized Saturday morning that I actually wanted to run this race.  I hadn’t felt like that much at all during this whole process.  It was a very strange feeling.

Saturday night I actually went to bed early and slept well all night.  I set my alarm for 5 am but ended up waking up around 4:30.  Not seeing much reason to go back to sleep I decided I would just get up.  I went down to check on Charlie and he was actually doing well.  He gave me the green light to go ahead and make the journey.  So I set off to pick up Lisa and head to Nags Head.  Once we got to the Dream Center…where the event begins…I wasn’t extremely nervous.  I had a few butterflies but was so in awe of the number of people around.  Hugs, well wishes and laughs going on all around you has a much needed positive effect on the nerves.

The plan was to run with Lisa for a few miles and then just get in our own groove and do our thing.  Run our own race, as Matt put it.  We heard the gun go off for the first corral.  That’s a fitting term for it as we were literally corralled like livestock to the front as each group was given the green light to start their race.  It got to be our turn to start and from the beginning my legs didn’t feel quite right.  This isn’t unusual as I am a slow “starter-upper” when it comes to running.  I find it takes about 2.5 miles to get into my groove.  My legs felt like lead.  We started off very slowly.  Lisa and I kept pace for about the first mile.  Even though my legs never did warm up, around mile 2 things got just a tad easier.  I was looking forward to mile 6 as I knew once there it would be easier.

What I found at mile 6 was the Brindley Beach water booth, the “easier” part I was hoping for never did show up.  That Brindley booth was a needed sight as many of them are also Bootcampers.  The cheering and encouragement was much appreciated at that point.  I knew I was nearly halfway.  However, my hips said, halfway?  You’ve got to be kidding, we’re done!  By then most everything else is blurry until Mile 11.  I do remember a brief holler from the Beach Realty water table at Mile 9 or 10.  Then the bridge!  Oh the bridge.  By this time I was fighting the pain with everything in me.  Fighting the hip pain so much that my shoulder muscles got so tense it almost replaced the pain in my hip.  Shaking out my arms, shrugging my shoulders, I boldly took on the bridge.  Within a few steps I knew it.  I knew I needed to walk it.  My feet were numb, shoulders screaming, hip burning, I just needed the small break.  At the top of the bridge, no excuses, it’s all downhill I have to run it.  So I did.  Hit the next water station, got up about a half mile and who finds me?  Thing 2!

Re caught up with me and just as I was about to take off on another jog, she said she needed to walk a bit.  I was certainly not going to argue with her!  So we made the pact to walk for mile 11 and pick up the jog at 12 all the way in.  It’s been suggested many times by Adam that throughout our training we take part in an ICE BATH.  I’ve never been brave enough to try it.  At mile 11.5, I was begging for one!  This is how I knew what trouble I would be in, if I finished this thing.  Re kept assuring me we would finish, even if we were crawling!  I believed her, knowing she would drag me behind her if she had to! That’s what “Things” do for each other!

About mile 11.75, I start proclaiming with every ounce of determination I had that I would NEVER, EVER, EVER do this again!  Why in the world did I agree to do this?  People who do this are just plain crazy.  I’ve done one and I’m not doing another.  Of course at this point I’m not even finished yet…Oh dear!  So mile 12 is upon us.  We take off in a jog.  Re says she has to stop again.  I knew darn well she wouldn’t for good!  I’m jogging away in all the pain thinking to myself, less than a mile…you just have to go less than a mile.  A little ways down I knew I had to be half a mile out.  I kept saying, just a half a mile, you can do it, half a mile.  Then to the corner off the main road onto the side roads a lady yells out “Only a quarter mile to go!”  Oh dear God, I’m so close.  I keep saying to myself, only a quarter of a mile, quarter of a mile.  Then another turn with people yelling “You’re almost there!”  I chant to myself, I’m almost there.  Last left turn ahead I hear the most beautiful words…”Just this left turn and you’re done!”  I start saying left turn, left turn, that’s it…that’s all you have to do.

I get to this left turn and see a HUGE crowd of people standing and cheering.  It’s absolutely overwhelming.  The cheers are streaming in, you hear your name called by a few familiar faces.  I couldn’t tell you who they are right now because I had tears in my eyes.  I had to fight back the emotion as I was about to completely break down.  I look down, gather my composure, look back up to see the FINISH and a few strays in front of me who had passed me at the last minute.  I take off in a sprint, despite the excruciating pain, pass 3 of the 4 and straight into the arms of Jay.  Oh, I love this man, yet have never before been so happy to see him.  It meant I had done it.  I had run 13.1 miles (well about 11.5 of them.)  I finished this monumental task and started crying.  More hugs from Jessica and Joan then I get out of the way to wait for Re.  I see her…she comes in strong.  First thing out of her mouth….Jay said drink Pineapple Juice.  Ha Ha…ok, let’s find the pineapple juice.

On the way home it occurred to me that I had just finished all that running, had burned all those calories and was hungry.  I’m having a BURGER, I exclaim.  And so I did.  It was the best burger I’ve had in a very long time.  Still proclaiming I’m never doing this again all the way home.  The next day I review the results.  I see my time.  2:46. I know I can do better than this.  After all the full marathon winner beat me by more than 20 minutes.  What? I can’t possibly go down like that!  This can’t be the best I can do.  Ok, when does training start for the Flying Pirate half in April?  Yes…I’m hooked.  I suppose there are worse things to be hooked to than running.  I’ll take it!  In April I will finish in 2 hours.

That’s the new goal.

The importance of Support…and I’m not talking about Control Tops or Sports Bras!

So the Outer Banks Marathon weekend is upon us.  I will be running a half marathon in less than 72 hours.  Am I nervous?  Well it depends on the moment.  I’m excited half the time and scared to death the other half of the time.  I just have to keep remember why I’m running this.  I’m running for Charlie.  He can’t run.  Heck, he can barely walk now.  And even though it’s painful for him to move around a lot, when I need him to get up, he does it and doesn’t complain…well, not much anyway.  So who am I to complain about the fact that I have the ability to run 13.1 miles?

Really at this point it’s all a mental game.  I’ve been training for this since April, I just didn’t know it!  Matt made sure of that…he’s sneaky like that you know.  If I can just keep my mind in order until about mile 6, I’ll be golden.  I know physically I can do this.  There’s no question.  It’ll hurt some for sure, but it’s supposed to hurt.  Anything hard to get is worth the pain to get there.  Shoot, so much of what we do hurts anyway.  We don’t let that stop us in other areas of life.  Giving birth, that’s a real doozy but women purposely get pregnant all the time, some even for a second and third time!!!  Drinking too much wine hurts…the next day, and yet I still partake in that exercise more often than I should.  When will I learn?

The point is…things in life that are worth having usually don’t come easily.  They’re not supposed to.  What makes it all worthwhile is that fighting spirit and sense of accomplishment when it’s done.  That’s why I’m going to fight through the pain, fight through the mental challenges, get my medal at the finish line, drink a beer and then go home to show Charlie that I did it all for him!

I know the title of this blog is about support, so I’ll get to it finally.  There is no way one takes on an endeavor like this without a support system.  In my case the support system is the only reason I am able to take this on.  My family at Outer Banks Bootcamps is…well…there’s really only one fitting way to describe them…simply AMAZING.  The Outer Banks is a special place to live.  God made this place special through the beautiful ocean, sky, nature and also the people who occupy this island and call it home.  I’m sure there are great people in many places…I’ve had the good fortune to meet some of the greatest people here on this little barrier island.

The strength, commitment, enthusiasm, community spirit, diversity and compassion that our little (growing every day though) group of bootcampers possesses is….well…once again…simply AMAZING.  I have never in my 37 years been a part of something like this.  There is a true sense of family and community amongst us.  We are fiercely loyal to Matt and Jay and they return the protection to us as well.  That’s what the strongest families do. 

I shudder at the thought that I almost didn’t stick with it. That would have been a big mistake.  God has a plan.  Things happen for a reason.  Sometimes we don’t see it until later, but when we do how can you help not looking back, smiling, nodding your head and knowing something much greater than you is in control and always has your back!  I now realize that going through all the discomfort, the growth, the connecting, the sweat, the cursing (well maybe he didn’t plan that) I was in the right place all along with the absolute right people.

From the bottom of my heart I can never thank you all enough for the lifting words. The quiet prayers. The delicious food. The endless encouragement. The smiles. The hand squeezes.  The shoulders to cry on.  The delivery of bed pads.  The text messages. The facebook messages.  The beautiful birthday surprise party.  The 20 minute drive to do a 2 minute limb removal.  The bottles of wine followed by truth or dare.  The running partner.  The reassurance I can do it.  Oh, I could go on and on.  In a nutshell, it’s the SUPPORT.   I am so blessed and grateful to be part of your group, your family.

And lastly, the support from our fearless leaders Matt and Jay has been off the charts.  If you don’t have someone like these two in your life, you’re truly missing out. You’re missing out so much that once you have them you can’t imagine life without them.  I’ve had many mentors in my years and have loved them all.  These guys take it to that next level.  I can’t even finish writing this without the tears streaming.  I hope you know how deeply important you are to us.  You are the head of this family and its strength is a direct reflection of you as leaders.  You surround yourself with the best of the best and I’m so blessed to be a part.

So, to sum it all up…Thank You.  Love You.  See You Sunday at the finish!