Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I've Never Done This Before

Today's workout:  
   - 5 mile run
   - pushups/situps

This is a post I have been wanting to write for quite some time but was waiting for the right mentality and time to write it.  I first came up with the idea last fall when I ran a 10k the day after a 15k (I was mentally beginning to lose it, ha).  I kind of forgot about it until I ran Ragnar last month.  Still, I hesitated to write it after that because a part of it is my own struggle, but I promised when I started this blog that it’s a raw look, not a sugar coated version of my life.  If I didn’t post this stuff, this would just be fiction and who would benefit from that? 

Support.  I’m not talking about the beams that hold up bridges, or the cushions in your shoes.  I’m not referring to the foundation of a house or the patellar band around the pesky little issue called “Runner’s Knee.”  I’m talking about the kind that holds up your head, your heart, and your soul when you literally have nothing left.  The kind that pushes you to the finish line even though there is no physical reason you should have been able to cross that line. 

I have, throughout my running (and racing) years, had incredible people cheering me on at each and every one of my races.  I have had really bad races and really good races.  I have however, never received the kind of motivation and support that I received throughout my races these past 18 months.  It’s amazing.

My best friend sends me a text wishing me luck before most of my races – and I have a lot of them.  My husband’s mom makes me pre-race granola bars that are phenomenal.  My parents always try to remember my race schedule so that they can ask me how it went. 

I completed a half marathon last September and just couldn’t catch my breath no matter what I did (I got diagnosed with bronchitis and a sinus infection two days after the race).  I did the whole race with a friend of mine and even though she could have gone on and kept running, she stayed by my side the whole time.  When I needed to walk, she walked.  I told her to go ahead, and she refused.  2 hours and 45 minutes later we crossed the finish line.  It was not nearly the race I wanted but that 2 hours and 45 minutes would have felt a lot longer by myself.  Support like that is incredible and I am incredibly grateful for it.   

Breaking an hour on ice
I ran my 4th 10k of the GLRS 6 series on December 31st and it was 6 miles of straight ice in 5 degree weather.  I felt like I spent more time trying to keep myself on my feet than actual running.  The original course was to be two loops of a 5k but because the courses were so icy, they had us do five loops of a shorter course that wasn’t icy on only a little stretch on the beginning part.  A coworker of mine was at the same race and ran ahead of me in a zigzag, pointing out the least icy/semi slushy spots for me to follow.  He had already run the 5k earlier with his fiancé but stayed to cheer on another friend in the 10k and ended up running part of it with me instead.  That support got me to my 2013 goal of completing a 10k in under an hour…on the last day of the year. 

Ragnar, Van 2, day 1, pre-race
My first leg of Ragnar last month was 7.3 miles in brutal sun, trail, and heat.  It was almost 90 degrees and most of the route was through a trail the allowed almost no breeze.  When I finally finished the trail portion around mile 6, I saw my team at the top of a brutal hill and they refilled my water bottles, sprayed me with cool water and empathized with the heat and brutal sun.  Keep in mind that while I had been talking with these girls for a while, I had really only met them a few hours before.  I won’t go into too much detail because I want to save that for my Ragnar recap…  my teammate’s husband (who was not on our team) drove back from the next exchange to give me more water to dump over me – as a runner himself, I could see that he knew what to do.  He had met me twice, we hadn’t really talked, and yet he continued the team support.  My team’s support mentally carried me across the finish line.  To this day, I’m pretty sure that without them, I would have ended up crawling across that exchange line.  That run was tough, but it could have been a lot worse without that support.  Ragnar is a tough race.  However, support is what gets you through those tough miles when the brutal heat and extreme lack of sleep is beating you down.  The reason you are on a team with 11 other people (and stuck in a van with 5 of them) is because you can’t do a race like that without amazing support.  I loved Ragnar but I think my experience could have been a lot different had I not had the support and the awesome team that I did.

Support.  There are races where it literally carries you across the finish line. 

That being said, for this first time ever, I am dedicating a blog post.  This post is for everyone that has been next to me during a mid-race struggle:  from the kid on the side of the road hi fiving me at mile 12 of my 3rd half to my friend that did the half with me last September to my Ragnar team.

Ragnar, Van 2, at the finish

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