I just completed my fourth marathon. I was feeling pretty good about my accomplishment until I talked to my chiropractor. She must be doing her marathon research because she told me:
"The average person can run two marathons in their lifetime before they start to do permanent damage to their body."
Let's just hope I'm not average.
I'm not really sure how I even got into marathon running. Every year as I lay dying on my couch, taking inventory of every sore fiber of my being, I have this dichotomy of thoughts swelling in my mind. It's a streaming consciousness of "what in the world was I thinking...I could totally beat my time."
It's sick. I realize that.
The 26.2 miles of a marathon are painful. But somehow invigorating. It's maddening yet freeing. And slow, slow, slow.
I think there comes a point where you lose all sense of dignity. It happens right around the time you loosen your grip on reality.
You're so thirsty, you'll pick up an abandoned water bottle of a stranger for a sip of fluid - any kind of fluid. (I may or may not have done that).
At some point, running downhill is more excruciating than running uphill.
Every fiber of every muscle screams at you to stop going, stop moving. Just stop.
But stopping is not an option until the finish line is crossed.
My 2010 marathon experience was at the California International Marathon in Sacramento, Calif. (my hometown). The race winds it's way out of the Folsom, yes, the home of Folsom Prison, and into the River City.
December weather in Northern California is about as perfect as climate gets so it's almost always a perfect running day by the time the CIM rolls around.
The starting line is a sea of bodies waiting in a cloud of anticipation. 7,000 marathon runners, the vast majority are like me - biomechanical deficiency cloaked in wicked awesome running shoes. Months of training are test the second the gun sounds. So it begins.
3 miles in: Good pace. I'm running with Chad (my fiance) who is ready to complete his very first 26.2.
5 miles in: Why are there no hills in Minnesota? Training without hill makes racing on hills slightly traumatic for my calf muscles.
10 miles in: Downtown Fair Oaks. The biggest hill is ahead.
13.1: Half-marathon done. Time is good, but my legs are tight. Let the self talk begin.
15 miles in: You can do this. it's 11 miles to go. You can run 11 miles in your sleep.
18 miles in: Why am I doing this again? There is a fine line between resilience and insanity and you are dancing with the insanity part.
20 miles in: The Wall. I'm so tired of eating gooey sugary sweet caffeinated crap. I just want a hamburger.
23 miles in: Getting into downtown Sacramento. I'm so ready to be done.
25 miles in: only 1.2 to go...maybe it I run harder it will hurt less. Or at least for a less amount of time.
26.2: Runner 5080, Sarah Nelson. Finish time 5:19:36 min.
What did I get as a reward for my fourth marathon? Let's see...
- My new (S)PR...that's slowest personal record. (I think it was the hills...maybe jet lag)
- A big fat silver brushed copper medal
- An aluminum blanket
- To cross the finish line with my little brother and my fiance
- A big California style cheeseburger
- The satisfaction of knowing that despite the elements, the fatigue, and the pain...I still have it. I am part of the one-percent of the human population that can finish a marathon. FOUR marathons.
Three days later, I'm still icing my joints and supplementing pain relievers with my meals, but besides every other muscle in my body that still hates me, my heart feels pretty good.
Even with ice-packs attached to my knees, I'm thinking about getting back out there. The next race. I gotta beat my time. Who knows...maybe a Minnesota marathon is in my future.