I’ve started this post several times and each time, I let it sit in the drafts waiting for when I’ll have the courage to post it. I guess today is the day.

Last summer, my old college roommate told me she was going to run a marathon in early September. I asked her who she was running with and she said no one. I told her she couldn’t run alone and then volunteered to run with her. I only had less than eight weeks to train and after she left I started to wonder if I was a mental case.

Turns out I was a mental case. During my long runs I would get to the gym and workout watching people, including the hubs, coming and going while I remained tethered to the treadmill trying to eke out my miles. There were days I would watch trainers work with three different people and then go on break. I ached to quit and go on break too, but instead, I chugged some water and kept on running.

The problem with working out at the gym is that it’s not an accurate idea of Colorado terrain. (I’ve ran two half marathons so I’m not a complete virgin to running.) Knowing this, I forced myself outside when the kids went back to school in August. Some mornings I was running in eighty degree heat, which turned out to be a good thing because the day of the race, it hit 76 degrees.

On race day, I smiled and chatted with my friend while we waited to start and ignored all the butterflies flitting around in my stomach. We did great and then I hit mile 13, I told my friend to go ahead and I attended to stomach issues. At mile 20, the paramedics pulled me off the course for vomiting. I’d been vomiting since mile thirteen. They wanted to send me to the ER in an ambulance, but I convinced them to get me to the finish line instead.

I cheered my friend across the line and spent the next two days trying to recover from the stomach issues I was still experiencing.  You would think that would be enough to stop me from running another marathon, but it only spurred me to sign up for another one, less than three weeks later. After all, I’d made it to mile 20 with stomach and bathroom issues. And I didn’t want to lose all that training.

Bloody shoes from marathon

Dark spots at heel and ankle are dried blood. There’s some near the toes too, but it’s hard to see.

So, I purchased another pair of running shoes since my last ones were thrashed and continued training. This time, I ran alone. I made it to the finish line, but I was the last one to cross and when I peeled my shoes off, I found that I had 9 blisters on my heels and the bottom of my feet. (I could feel them forming while running, but I didn’t realize that I was bleeding in my shoes.) I couldn’t walk for about eight days.

Here’s what I learned:

1st marathon:

  • No matter what people say about you, you can’t give up. I was walking around mile seventeen, forcing myself to keep going when a lady from a group of women on the sidelines made this comment, “Why doesn’t she walk a little slower, maybe stop and inspect the dirt?” Someone laughed and some of the others agreed with her. Mind you, there wasn’t anyone else around us, so yes I knew it was directed at me. It hurt, but the lady didn’t know what I was going through. She didn’t see me vomit. All she saw was me walking on the course. I ignored her and trudged on, until I was forced off. This taught me that I can handle rude insults and still keep on trucking.
  • That I can still force myself to perform even when I’m sick and I want to give up.

2nd marathon:

  • Some of the same problems arose and my stomach felt so sick around mile 13 that I didn’t take anymore of my energy packets. By mile sixteen, I quit drinking water because my stomach threatened to expel even the tiniest drop. Instead I poured it over my skin, hoping that I’d intake some of it and not become dehydrated. But I learned that I’m persistent, even when the conditions are less than ideal.
  • When I crossed the finish line, they rolled up the timing mat and shut the race down. Embarrassing? Yes, but I did it. I made it across the finish line. I learned I’m not a quitter.
  • When my sister asked when I came in and I told her last, she snickered. At first that diminished my accomplishment in my eyes, but then I realized she can laugh all she wants. She’s never ran a marathon, not even a half, and I finished.