Marathon Completed.Exhaustion fits me like a bodysuit. Every muscle cell cries out for attention and breathing feels like a voluntary activity. Interwoven between and through the exhastion is an exhiliration that accompanies those rare times in life when I accomplish what I once considered impossible.
Under a dark sky and near freezing temperatures, at 7:30 this morning, I found myself in Corral D of the Columbus Marathon. My invitation to this corral was due to my estimation of a 4 hour and 30 minute marathon at the point I registered a couple of months ago. At that time, I sincerely doubted I could finish or at least finish without walking an event that 6 months earlier I would have never even considered attempting.
My heel wounded due to a lawn mowing accident in 1994, arthritis in my left knee, and my heart saddled with a bicuspid (instead of tri-cuspid) aortic valve at my birth and diagnosed as leaking and weakening two years ago, I was convinced a lifetime of running was about to end.
5 days before memorial day, I determined to run through everything and run 100 times in 100 days prior to my team's cross country camp. Running slow but steady in mid summer, I decided to set a higher bar and enter in the Columbus marathon. I begin to train with long runs and gradually started to run easier and faster.
The cannon went off for the wheelchair race, followed by fireworks starting Corral A. In corral D, we waited impatiently for the 12 minutes before it was our turn. Finally, my chip and I crossed the starting line and I soon realized the mistake I made in entering a slow time. I had to weave in and out of a very crowded group of slower runners, arriving at the mile mark at 9:03 and then finally settling in with sub 8 miles for the first 10. Eventually the field thinned and I moved up 2,000 runners to go through the 10 mile mark at 82 minutes.. I maintained that level and finished the next 10 in 83 minutes, passing the half marathon in 1:47.
On the 23rd mile, I felt my chest tightening significantly and I slowed down to a crawl, waiting nearly 3/4 of a mile before it passed and I was able to pick it up. In the 24th mile, I had both hamstrings spasm and once again, I was slowed to a crawl.. fortunately, after the 24, the spasms ceased and I begin to feel better.. my 25th mile was 9 minutes and my last mile was an 8:05. I crossed the line in 3 hours; 46 minutes and 20 seconds and for the first time in 30 years, I completed a marathon.
Just during the writing, my suit of exhaustion seems to be fitting better and I am anxious to wake up tomorrow morning, ready for a week off of running and a lot to do at work as I switch all of my energy to helping my team win our league championship and qualify for nationals.
The exhaustion will evaporate as will the exhiliration, but tonight I wear both with a satisfied smile.
I wrote this story last fall after one of the most significant accomplishments of my life. I am now faced with arhythmia that appears to be benign, but makes running very challenging. I plan to overcome it and I am realizing that God may be giving me a second opportunity to do something that I should not be able to do. I hope that in so doing, my young athletes will be inspired and have reason to soar..