- Watching two movies (Why Him? and Manchester By the Sea. Why Him? had me busting a gut and nearly wetting myself. Sorry other Lufthansa passengers).
- Eating two large helpings of pasta, 3 cookies, 2 glasses of wine and two beers.
- Finishing a book that had me sobbing in seat 33K (If you must know the book is called Lily and the Octopus and don't read it if you don't like books about loving dogs and then them dying).
- Flying over Iceland, which made me want to claim I had actually been to Iceland.
|I still don't understand why the f&ck they call it Iceland|
I have spent the past two days trying to wrap my head around what happened on marathon day. In the title of this post I wrote "Personal Worst" - which only refers to how I felt on the run physically and mentally. Honestly, in many other ways (running through the streets of Paris, having my family and best friends with me, the gorgeous weather) this race was actually a personal best. Just depends on your perspective and what the focus is.
What keeps running through my head is: why did I spend all that time training, all those Saturday mornings running my ass off, all those speed workouts on the treadmill - just to run a time I could run with likely no training at all? Why the eff did I PAY for a training plan for this personal worst scenario?
But, I suppose that's how it goes. The input we give does not guarantee a certain outcome.
I know my body pretty well. Going into the race I knew that running a sub-4 might not happen. This training cycle was not a strong one for me and I'm still not quite sure why. I could blame it on age, but I think it's more than that. Truly I think more the blame is linked to two words: BURN OUT.
Since I started running about 8 years ago, I've never taken a substantial break (except when injured, but even then I was training in any way I could). This past year alone I did 2 marathons, a 6 day/120 mile trail race, an ultra relay, a half marathon and a few shorter races. Then I jumped right in and started training for Paris.
Standing on the Champs Elysee (the start line for the race) I was in heaven despite jet lag, walking 10 miles per day in the days leading up to the race and feeling just generally tired. My goal/focus shifted from racing to enjoying the day and taking it in. There have been what feel like hundreds of times over the past few years when I was so fixated on my time. In that moment I was weary of all of that and sick of it too.
The first 10k felt effortless, cruising along with 47,000 of my friends (75% of them men!). I hit the 10k in about 55 minutes. Aid stations were every 5k and I would grab a bottle of water and carry it with me. The aid stations had water, oranges and bananas. Some had raisins and sugar cubes. The mixture of water and banana peels on the cobblestone made for the perfect storm to break a hip, which I nearly did a few times.
It was some time after the 8 mile mark that I could feel it happening. My pace was slowing and my drive to hold onto my goal was slipping away. Guys, it is the weirdest thing, but I just stopped caring. I stopped caring about my pace, my goals, running. I started slowly walking through the aid stations and in between. When I walked, a random woman would invariably come up behind me and gently put her hand on my back and say "Allez!" (go!). There was so much sweet encouragement from others and I loved that. I hit the half in about 2 hours. Still not caring.
I saw Emma and Ken at mile 15. Usually in a race I will dash by them with a quick wave and smile. This time I stopped and hung out for a bit, telling them that it wasn't my day, but I'd see them at the finish. Still not caring. My feet were killing me and some cramps were setting in. No bathroom emergencies, thank God. Taking a crap wouldn't have made the day any better.
It was getting hot, about 75 degrees. We were about 8 miles from the finish. I continued to not care about my slow pace.I took in the sights, the people. I listened to the spectators shouting "Allez Beth!" and telling me to have "courage" (the French way of saying "be strong!"). I felt the energy and good love from the crowds. At mile 18, my watch suddenly died out of the blue. WHAT? And, with that my music was gone too, since it's loaded onto my watch.
I crossed the finish, happily. But then I couldn't find friends and family and I was emotionally/physically spent and hot. I kept holding back tears and borrowed someone's phone to text Ken. By the time I found them I was a bucket of tears.
But, nothing a beer and sitting spread eagle in a French cafe couldn't cure.
A cute French runner saw me rubbing my feet and gave me some cream for them. Then he commented, while looking at my disgusting black toenails, "But I don't know vhat to do with zee toes!" Made me laugh
Oh, and then a huge Moroccan chicken kebab sandwich in from of the Arc.
Congrats to my two dear friends Julie and Erika for finishing as well. Julie kicked ass doing a 3:32 and Erika ran her first marathon!
|Right when Erika finished!|
So, there you have it. During the race I swore off running for a minute, but now I just know I need a break to find the love again. I feel this drive to find some redemption emotionally and physically. There is always another race and always lessons to be learned. I could have dropped out and I didn't. I could have had a pity party and I didn't. I could be unable to run at all and I'm not.
I want to reclaim that girl who has that DRIVE. She'll be back.
In the meantime, time to rest. And, because this trip was bout SO much more than them marathon, in the next few days I'll post some general stuff about Paris and how we did the trip on a pretty decent budget. Let me tell you - we saw and did so much - and I've got some great tips (like don't change your dollars into Francs, because France uses Euros!! < someone in our group did this - honest mistake but he'll never live it down).
If you are at all considering this race, DO IT. The energy, the sights, the people - it was all a dream.
What was your personal worst race? What did you learn?