I’ve been keeping a journal fairly consistently (as in short entries twice a week…maybe?) for over a year now. It came as a product of my counseling sessions with J. She said writing down my thoughts and struggles would be essential to my recovery. I don’t like it. Never have.
The biggest thing I’ve learned from journaling is that I am not naturally a contemplative person. I struggle to sit and think over my day. I think this is because it forces me to confront the things that cause me anxiety, and also because I’m critical of what I have to say. I almost never re-read entries after the day they are written. Its just too easy to start editing myself, which isn’t really the purpose of a journal, now is it? I wish. I would feel much better about myself if I could just go back and scratch out a few lines and clean up my sentence structure. You know, make myself sounds little more together, and a little less emotional. But that would completely destroy the integrity of the journal, so I’ve kept myself from reviewing entries (for the most part, some spelling mistakes are just too glaring not to change).
Anyway, despite my general dislike for journaling, ocassionally it helps. Sometimes confronting my anxiety proves especially rewarding and the act of writing really calms me. Other times, I just come up with something really good to write about. A few weeks ago I did just that. Somehow, I don’t know how, I found myself sitting with my journal open (miracle!) composing a list of things I want to do with my life. Normally, I would find such a list anxiety inducing. I would feel inadequate for not having achieved the things on the list, and stressed out at the thought of trying to achieve them. But on this particular day, no anxiety. Only writing.
-travel to Europe
-qualify for and race the Boston Marathon
-practice yoga regularly
-establish a daily prayer + journal time
-wear a bikini
-get a job that scares me
-live in a new city
-maintain my Spanish speaking
-allow God to show me my purpose
So, I’ve been slacking for the past two weeks on posting “facing fears.” But I think running my first marathon can count for two weeks worth of fear facing. I certainly worried about it for two weeks. So, here’s a race recap.
I woke up at 3:00 am with a nervous stomach. I didn’t need to be up until 4:00, so I occupied myself with mundane tasks, like washing my roommates dishes, making coffee, sweeping the kitchen floor, pretty much anything to keep my mind off the race.
At 4:30 M came over and sat with me while I ate my traditional pre-long run breakfast: oatmeal with banana and peanut butter. It was less than appetizing that early, on a knotted stomach, but I got it all down. Then I stretched some more and got on my team jersey, running shorts and new bondi band (worked awesome by the way…more on that in my next post).
My brother S, who was also running, and my mom showed up at 5:30 and we were off to the metro station to ride downtown to the start line. It was still dark, and both Sean and I were definitely freaking out about what we were about to do. We got to the start, no problem, though the metro was jam packed with runners. We used the bathroom (johnny on the spot of course), ate our bananas (actually S sucked down some energy gel, which is nasty stuff), and got in line with the 8 minute pace group.
Here’s a view of the start, actually about a fifth of the start. There were nearly 20,000 runners participating in the half and full marathons. Only 3,000 or so were running the full, which was intimidating to say the least. At exactly 7 am we were off.
Miles 1-9 were a breeze. They went by quickly and I didn’t feel at all fatigued. S and I stuck together and maintained 7:30 pace. At 9 miles, the 15,000 half marathoners turned around to finish their race, and the full marathoners headed out on a large loop around the city. Seeing the half marathoners turn back was surreal. Usually I am in that group. Usually I marvel at the full marathoners and can’t imagine going so far. This time I branched off with them and a wave of fear, excitement, and adrenaline washed over me.
Miles 9-14 went by easily as well. There were some pretty significant hills, but it was manageable. S and I did this section of the race at 7:45 ish pace. At mile 14 we were still looking pretty good, see…
At about 15 miles S decided to drop back to 7:30 pace, but I knew that if I was going to make it all the way I would have to stay at 8:00 miles. S went on and I was on my own. I was nervous to be running alone (S keeps us on pace with his Garmin), bu I have a pretty good sense of pace, so I started cranking off the miles at 8:00. I thought for sure that by 18 miles or so I would crash, but I held on. From miles 15-21 I held consistently to 8:00 pace. I was shocked. I started to hurt at mile 21, as evidenced by the grimace on my face, but the pain wasn’t bad enough to slow me down and I was able to push through for the next few miles.
Lest I fool you, the marathon was not all sunshine and rainbows. At mile 23 I caught up with S. He was starting to struggle. I was really hurting and my pace by 23 had slowed to just under 9 minute miles, but I was holding up a bit better than S at this point. I slowed a bit while S and I got ready for a final push. Then we hauled our asses through the last three miles together. It was all hills and beating sun. It was one of the more painful moments of my life, but I’m really proud that we pushed through. No walking and nothing slower than 9:00 pace. I stuck with S and we crossed the finish at exactly the same time. 3 hours 30 minutes 3 seconds. It was amazing, and so fun to finish with my brother. I don’t have any great photos of the finish. It was super crowded, but here a photo of the two of us, virgin marathoners no more!
I’m so proud of how I finished. The icing on the cake…? I qualified for the Boston Marathon! It was sort of my secret goal to qualify, but I didn’t really think it would happen. I finished 10 minutes under the cut off, inthe top 20 women and the top 200 runners overall! I’m already looking for my next marathon.